Wilson from Cast Away - community for personal sustainability

Why community is important for personal sustainability

You might be wondering why the image for this week’s blog is Wilson from the beloved Hollywood movie Cast Away. For anyone who doesn’t know, Wilson is an imaginary companion created by the shipwrecked Chuck Noland, played by Tom Hanks. But he didn’t just didn’t just talk to this friendly-faced football. Throughout the film, Wilson evolves as a character from which Noland derives hope and companionship whilst living in extreme isolation.

But why am I showing you this today?

It starts with personal sustainability

We know not only from watching Chuck Noland’s experience, but also from times in our own lives, that we don’t do very well without things like human connection; community; and social relationships. They are all essential components of a healthy lifestyle. Now, if you’ve been following this series, you’ll be aware I’ve been developing my ideas around personal sustainability. It’s what I consider part of the broader ESG movement: thinking about sustainability on a macro, global scale. But I don’t believe we’re going to be able to tackle the wider world’s problems around sustainability if we don’t start with our own.

How can we expect to tackle the big issues if we don’t have personal sustainability; if we don’t have the energy, vitality, and motivation to do so? It’s important that we’re well connected and have good values if we’re to deal with these challenges effectively. So far in this series, we’ve discussed identity and integrity. This week is all about social relationships and community in terms of personal sustainability.

One of the most important things that keeps us well, and that we’ll need to harness when addressing larger problems, is social relationships. I’m going to share with you a specific example of the importance of community…

Blue Zones

On the Japanese island of Okinawa, you’ll find one of the highest proportions of centenarians. These are simply people over the age of 100. And this makes it one of five communities, known as the Blue Zones, scattered around the world. Okinawa earned this status as a result of research by Dan Buettner, who set out over 20 years ago to find out where, and why people live longest. So, the most people live to 100 in these areas, and they’re extremely healthy, too. And Buettner has made it his mission to find out what makes them so vibrant in their old age. One of the things he found all Blue Zones have in common is their people maintain a strong sense of community. 

Specifically in Okinawa, however, exists something called a moai. It’s a group of around five people, typically established at a young age. Therefore, they mostly grew up in the same community, and, with this in common, became lifelong companions. Occasionally they’re formed at an older age, too. And within that moai, they meet up, they laugh, exchange gossip. They support each other emotionally, mentally, sometimes physically, and even financially. For instance, if someone is struggling to afford something, they’ll raise the funds to help. But it’s mostly having an emotional support network through community; and connectivity. 

I think that is so important for personal sustainability, don’t you?

Who’s in your moai?

So, my question to you today is, who’s in your moai? It could be one person; it could be many. But it’s essential to have that sense of community. And if you don’t think you have one, who could you perhaps recruit? Often, the people that are going to offer you that connectivity; that real emotional support, are right under your nose – it’s just a case of knowing where to look! Maybe it’s an old friend you simply haven’t seen for a while. Or perhaps it’s an acquaintance who you’re interested in getting to know better. 

BOND with your people

Are you interested in sharing this message with your team? In her fun and interactive keynotes, Leanne uses the power of storytelling to improve trust, belonging and connection across organisations using her unique BOND Approach.

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