Volume 4, Issue 10

October 2015

Blue Ridge Conference

Blue Ridge Conference on Leadership

Black Mountain, NC

The Importance of Community

At the time of this writing, I am here in Black Mountain, North Carolina at this year’s leadership conference. We have over 300 people from all parts of the world participating  and it is an exciting time together.

There is a saying that we have at Blue Ridge. It’s the phrase, “See You on the Mountain.” Yet, it’s much deeper than just a phrase, because once you have experienced the community that forms during the conference you understand what it means. Being on the mountain, even for the mere 72 hours, is a time where you leave the stress of work and life and travel away to be part of a community of people many different companies. Together, we get to experience the beauty of the mountains, the refreshing perspective of the speakers, and the quaintness of Black Mountain. It is all wrapped up in the simple phrase that people say to each other after they have personally experienced it, “See You on the Mountain”.

The truth is, we need community. In fact, we are slowly losing the art of being a part of a community because we live in a world that is constantly pulling us in so many directions. We should never underestimate the power of being a part of a community. So, why is community important? Here is the one reason why:


Never ever underestimate the power of interacting and engaging people person to person. Experts are only now beginning to see and learn the effects of this iDevice driven world. One of the negatives among so many positives is that our constant addiction to personal smart phones is causing a growing sense of isolation and one dimensional interacting where our thumbs get tired before our mouths do (texting instead of talking). I read an article this week that said 10 years ago, 7% of adults were on social media. Today it is 65% and growing, which means that more and more people are socially interacting on the web. This only begs the question of whether this is to the detriment of real ‘person to person’ interaction.

One example of this occurred recently with my pre-teenage daughter.  She has a dream of one day going through the Disney College Program. So, whenever we go to the ‘mouse house’ on vacation, I am constantly asking the folks I see there about the program. One evening while we were at the pool, the lifeguard and I started talking about it. My daughter was with us and had been talking to him previously. When she left us, I asked him about the chances of my daughter being in the program. He said, “Ah, she would be a no brainer for them. The one thing she does that they are looking for is confidently communicate with you and express herself. The issue they are running into is that so many kids are so focused on their iDevices, they know more about talking through those than actual person to person communication.”  Of course, now my daughter is at the stage where she has an iDevice and I am currently one of those parents that is in the tug-o-war over helping her not be dominated by it.  Telling her this story is my leverage to get her to think about her social media time.  Ah, the power of Disney. (ha)

See, when we personally interact and engage one another, we begin to learn about our strengths and our weaknesses; and others do as well. Doing this makes us all stronger and better able to achieve goals (in a work environment, or family), and do what we’ve set out to do.  

I was reminded of the significance of interacting  and engaging this year while serving on the board of directors of the Blue Ridge Conference on Leadership. In the past year, we started holding some of our meetings virtually where we can either tune in on our computers or by telephone. And whereas it is mighty convenient to have a virtual meeting from wherever our members are located in the southeast, there is something always missing. It just doesn’t replace the physical presence of working together and the personal engagement of personalities when we have physical meetings together.

I know you have read or seen pictures of the new campus Apple is building for the company. I was intrigued to see that the building is structured in a circle. It is like they are building this ‘people’ ecosystem that has green space for its staff to get together in the middle of the building. For a company that I’m sure uses online meetings with people around the world, when they decided to build a building for their company they must have believed it important to build it in such a way that promotes personal interaction and engagement of their people.

Where are the communities in your life that provide you interaction and engagement with others? In your work environments? Home life? Faith Communities? Let me challenge you, if you don’t have that community, find one. If you have one or have had one in the past that you have gotten away from, go back to it.  The encouragement and growth you receive from the interaction and engagement will make you and the other folks in it all around better people. It might also give your thumbs a much needed rest.

Have a great October!

And oh, by the way, the view this week from the mountain? AWESOME.

Jeff Heath


The contributor for this month's newsletter is Dr. Jeff Heath

Board Member of the Blue Ridge Conference on Leadership

High Point Resources, LLC


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