Blog | Strength in Numbers: Building a Community of Kindred Spirits
Strength in Numbers: Building a Community of Kindred Spirits
Recently, the movie industry gathered for the 93rd Academy Awards. Many things were quite different from previous ceremonies—including moving the festivities to the iconic Union Train Station in downtown Los Angeles and the fact that very few of the “at home” viewers had seen the nominated films with movie theaters closed for much of the year—but a lot of things remained the same. One of the enduring features of any awards ceremony, not just the Oscars, is winners thanking those who supported them and played a part in the big win! YouTube is filled with touching, funny and, sometimes, just plain strange tributes to those who helped the winner along the way.
Even though these “thanks” often end up as entertaining memes, they speak to an undeniable truth—nearly everyone who has realized their dreams will attribute an aspect of their success to others. Even Einstein was no lone genius, often noting that others, such as his college friend, Michele Besso, and his first wife, Mileva Marić, had helped him transform our understanding of how the universe works by supporting him when he was discouraged and challenging him when he was too complacent. Having a group of like-minded individuals to support our endeavors is critical to reaching our goals.
We call our like-minded network a “community of kindred spirits.” These are the people who make achieving our goals more meaningful and attainable. Success—at any stage of life—is a team sport. Our kindred spirits are the team members who create both the fabric and safety net for our journey.
So, what exactly is a kindred spirit? Kindred spirits are people who “get” you. It is more about having the same approach to life than it is about sharing the same views or interests. In fact, it is more interesting and can help you grow as a person if those around you have a variety of perspectives on a variety of subjects. Being harmonious in your outlook and approach to living your life will allow kindred spirits to be a part of your continued evolution as an interested—and interesting—human being as you live a long life.
Finding those kindred spirits
Finding “your people” can seem like a chore. You can’t just place an ad online for kindred spirits and there’s no question that making new friends at this stage is different than when we were younger. You no longer have the built-in social constructs of school, work, or parenting to bring you in contact with the outside world. Instead, you have to make meeting and building friendships a priority.
We try to embrace opportunities to meet new people. Whenever we attend an event or social gathering, we expect to meet one interesting new person. Being open to letting new people in, makes you more approachable and will increase the likelihood of expanding your network.
Philanthropy often connects like-minded people. But philanthropy is not the only way to meet kindred spirits. Taking a class at a local community college, joining a theater group, volunteering, signing up to travel with a group, joining a golf league, and any number of other activities can put you in contact with people who share your specific interests.
Once you’ve found a few kindred spirits, it is time to deepen the bonds. In looking for ways to strengthen our connections with people who were becoming an important part of our lives, we hit on the idea of hosting an old-fashioned Salon.
Our Salon doesn’t quite reach the intellectual level of the Stein / Toklas Parisian Salon, but it has become a much-anticipated fixture in our lives. Salons require that participants have a willingness to listen, contribute, debate, and discuss in an open and productive fashion. That meant we had to be purposeful in whom we invited. This wasn’t the time to cast a wide net. This was the time to focus on those kindred spirits who wanted to join us in our Resolutionist life.
We have been blown away by how well the Salon works. A Salon is not the only way to build deep and meaningful relationships. Finding activities such as dinner out, hiking, travel, or “game night” can provide a shared experience that can be the foundation of a lasting and productive friendship. Step One: You just need to make the effort, so—- Give it a Try!!!
Give it a try
Building a network of like-minded people takes thought and purposeful actions. One way to go about it is:
- For one month, challenge yourself to meet five new people who might be kindred spirits. To meet them, you need to go to places where people with your interests hang out. Join a book club, a hiking group, a dinner club, or volunteer your time. Say “yes” to every invitation you can. It’s amazing how many people you can meet when you open yourself to doing so.
- The following month, invite your growing kindred-spirit group to a two-hour salon. Choose a topic that will generate opinions and discussion and will allow the group to get to know each other better. Successful Salons take planning, so we’ve provided an outline in our book, “The Resolutionist: Welcome to the Anti-Retirement Movement.”
- Repeat and enjoy your newfound network of exciting, engaging, and challenging friends.