Blog Inclusion & Diversity Thought Leadership

The Company You Keep – Energizing or Exhausting?

The answer matters. A lot. Here’s why, plus some helpful tips.

Have you reflected recently on which communities really charge you up? We’ve been thinking about how much our energy is impacted by others and wanted to share a few ideas that might help us all. We’ve noticed that certain communities (or teams…or family even!) give us energy, and others…well, you fill in the blank. 

In addition to the baseline condition that we can be ourselves, we want communities where there is no performative bullshit, no shallow conversations, no stress of being judged…instead it’s communities with meaningful conversations, in a space of high trust, and hopefully squinty-eyes smiling if not belly-laughing joy! If you spend a lot of energy in the wrong communities, you’re likely feeling the energy drain. 

At Forshay, we’ve always known that business is personal, now more than ever. Being in the right communities is an essential element to feeling good in both work and our personal lives. In a recent gathering of Chief People Officers, Sally Thornton (Forshay’s CEO) opened the dinner by asking each person 3 simple questions – what’s going well for you (let’s celebrate that), what’s hard, and where can we each help each other? 

By curating a small group of leaders with shared values of trust, authenticity, and support, each person opened up on the full range of what’s real for them, and ended the dinner feeling supported and energized! Which got us thinking…how can we all experience more of that?

Your Community Energy Audit 

Everyone already has at least a few communities. Your family is a core group who interacts with other communities in education, your neighborhood, your sports or hobbies, and possibly a religious community…all before you started work and met professional communities.

If you are feeling drained by your communities but not sure why, take a look at your situation and ask yourself:

  1. What communities am I in?
  2. How do I feel before, during, and after interacting in each one? Energized or…
  3. If a community wears me out, might it be a values or interest mismatch? Or am I simply spread too thin across too many communities (and are those communities shallow or deep)? 

Now on to the fun part – 

  1. If no community stands out as a power source…where can I show up and feel truly energized after?

Communities built around shared values, challenges, or goals are a great place to start. One community that has been instrumental for Sally is a CEO community, where she’s received ideas, tools, learning, emotional support, and a lot of laughter as well while surfing the highs and lows of start-up life. The unusual aspect of this CEO group is it’s a safe space to ask tough questions and reflect on what matters most at work and in life in a holistic way. Sally reflected on how energizing it has been for her to be part of this community, and wants to pay it forward by creating a similar power source for Chief People Officers. 

This leads us to the next point. If you can’t find a power source community, consider creating one.

Create Your Own Energizing Community

While creating community is an outward act, deciding why you want to do so is an inside job.  Gina Bianchini is an author and expert in the power of community. Her book: Purpose: Design a Community and Change Your Life—A Step-by-Step Guide to Finding Your Purpose and Making It Matter is a brilliant resource to spend time with before you take action. There are many resources to find the right community for you…consider Meetup, Eventbrite, or Mighty Networks (which Gina started) who hosts hundreds of communities and has the tools to host your own.  

Practicing What We Preach: Forshay’s CPO Group

At Forshay, we’re practicing what we preach by starting a community for CPOs modeled after key aspects of the CEO group that has been an energizing power source for Sally. If you are a CPO, we are beginning this community in July, because let’s face it, the CPO role has only become *so* much harder and we’ve seen the turnover due to exhaustion. These leaders are  asked to do so much, yet deserve a space of their own that is not “networking” (as in, wide and shallow), but a curated community that is deeply meaningful, with high trust to talk about the salty issues, and power-giving at each turn. If you’re interested, you can learn more here

We’ll be sharing the themes and learnings from this group in future blogs, and no matter what your title, we hope to inspire others to form their own energizing communities (or recognize which ones are not worth their beautiful energy and drop!). 

We would also love to hear from you on your Community Energy Audit – what came up for you? Drop us a line or reach out for a coffee chat today.