On building and contributing to the community

I truly believe that building and contributing to the community is important. Life feels meaningful when we can contribute our ability to help others.

We as human are not the strongest animals in the world, we cannot run faster than lions, we cannot swim better than fishes, and we cannot even fly like the birds, yet, we dominate the world by our ability as social creatures, Together as a society, we achieve more than an individual.

I would feel guilty if I am not able to contribute to the community because everything I got today is based on the contributions of others. Take the computer in front of me as an example, it takes many generations of people to contribute their knowledge in electricity, semiconductor, and programmers to this MacBook Pro. This laptop is a result of numerous people’s sweat and effort. I should cherish the existence of this masterpiece of art.

There is so much I took from this society since I have grown up, and I should give back to others whenever I have the ability. It is about to give and take, and there is an old saying that it’s more blessed to give than to receive. I am lucky to enjoy all the contributions from others, good food, clean water and knowledge, the list is endless.

Once I realised how much I own, then I have the urge to give back, build and contribute to the community. The pursuit of this is satisfying, because the more I share, the stronger the bond us together.

The opportunities to help are on all sides. Join the student union was one thing I did when I was young. Volunteer to the committee that will require me to the best use of my skillsets. Don’t take a seat back and do nothing. The more I contribute, the more I can find the opportunities as I could understand what are the others need through the interactions. I feel deeply inspired by the ancient Chinese poet, Du Fu. He has great ambition to serve others, despite all the difficulties he faced. He would still willing to sacrifice himself for the benefit of others.

Contributing to the community change the way I see myself because I would become invaluable by doing the useful things no one else is doing. Organise what I can see is dangerously disorganised. Eventually, other people may notice my value, and begin to appreciate my hard-earned merits.

Other parts of my personal life would also change in consequence, because I no longer just thinking about myself, but with a better mental health status to focus on the community. The social world that I largely depend on would change in a few different dimensions.

If I were successful, somebody along the line gave me some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in my life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable system that allowed me to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. It is our community that made all that happen. I would view success differently as I am not solely responsible for my success, but indebted to the community.

It would also change my view on my actions. In the past, I may choose to keep silent, because I was too concern and care how other people’s perspective on myself. Instead, I should think about my speech and actions could contribute to the progress of the overall community instead of focusing on myself as an individual. Instead of thinking about my performance, my point of view changed to consider if I could contribute and help everyone with progress.

My contribution is my responsibility. Even there are better and more senior position in the community, I would not feel the fear anymore as I am contributing from my unique role and position. As long as the others perceive my work as useful, then I could feel my contribution and satisfaction, which lead to overall happiness.

My usefulness could be found at the workplace and in friendships, so even doing my job well could be a good thing for the community. Even though there may be people who disagree with me, as long as I am making a real contribution, I shall worry less about what others think.

The specific thing that I could do to contribute to the community is by writing. The primary reason to read a blog post or a book is that I can formulate and organise an informed, coherent and sophisticated sets of ideas about something important.

I should spend about two hours each day and three times each week in writing. Doing so is no different from thinking, and by thinking carefully and clarifying important issues, I would be able to contribute my ideas with productivity.

I have to sharpen my capacity to think and to communicate as a consequence of writing, I would be better armed. The pen is mightier than the sword, as the saying goes. This is no cheap cliche. Ideas change the world, particularly if I could write and express my good ideas, intelligently presented. Those who can think and communicate are simply more powerful than those who cannot, and powerful in a good way, the way that means able to build and contribute to community competently and efficiently.

If I can think and communicate, I can also defend myself, and my friends and family, when that becomes necessary, and it will become necessary at various point in my life.

I shall not underestimate the power of words, without them, we would still be living in trees. So when I can write and contribute with my ideas, I am harnessing the full might of culture to my life.

Besides, I would need to spend more time with my friends and colleagues. I need to accept myself, trust others and contribute to others through daily discussions. To build social relationships successfully, the greatness barrier is not from shyness, but the root cause of putting the wrong focus on little things, using a distorted lens to view the world. Whether my contributions are useful or not, they could not be judge by myself, but by others. I would never know if I made a real contribution unless I could understand what are the others’s need. Therefore, I need to spend time in social interactions with the community.

The potential obstacles to my contribution are politics. The human relationship becomes complicated when we have to fight for limited resources. It would be unfortunate to see wars and violence in the community, instead of kindness and sacrifice.

Throughout history, a minority of selfish people would disrupt the positive culture and replace it with unkind governance. A toxic culture would threatening people to share and to love. People would stop helping each other, poorly communicate, in an unsupportive environment. This could be a realistic worst-case scenario, given that I also worked in a big cooperate with bad office politics before, it would be nearly impossible to think about building and contributing to the community, as my survival in my role is always threatened by my incapable boss. Of course, there is always the danger that others will take my extra effort for granted and letting the valuable contributions get unnoticed.

An alternative plan to navigate office politics would be recognizing that knowledge is power. Some people value any information that may help their performance. My answers to specific questions can be a valuable currency in office politics. Knowledge of industry trends, customer concerns, top management’s strategic views, or other departments agendas is valued for its contribution to the planning and managing key tasks. And insider information maybe even more valued. Who is getting ahead and who is in trouble? What are top management’s latest concerns? What are the hottest industry trends or the newest customer developments? I could still contribute to the community by my knowledge no matters how complex the political environment.

Also, quick response to urgent requests can be worth a great deal to others. I shall not accuse the other person of acting passive-aggressively nor assume I can change others behaviour. Instead, I shall take a step back and ask myself if I am contributing to the issue in some way.

I might monitor the progress by counting the number of appreciations. It requires patience but it is rewarding work to build a cohesive, cooperative community. When the community member argues, it’s usually less about the money and more about status and fairness. They feel that their contribution should be valued. In these cases, the money they receive is not appreciated for its intrinsic value, but because it indicates that their contribution to the group is appreciated and that they are being treated equitably.

The ethic would be to work hard, live very simply and contribute as much as I can. The more I could share means the more blessings.

I shall also set a realistic expectation on everyone participation instead of setting everyone up for disappointment. Expecting equity hurts the community, since members who give a lower priority may just contribute to d just what’s minimally required. And it hurts members who treat it as a high priority, as they are not given as much responsibility as they would like, and they may feel they have to scale back their contributions to the lowest common denominator. Instead of looking for equal contribution, expect members to contribute to the best of their abilities. I could then contribute to the community by having the right expectations.

We live in an age of unprecedented opportunity, but with opportunity comes responsibility. To contribute well, I will need to cultivate a deep understanding of myself, not only what my strengths and weakness are but also how I learn, how I work with others, what my values are, and where I can make the greatest contributions.

Because only when I operate from strengths can I achieve true excellence to achieve the goal. I would need to monitor my behaviour daily and using the number of contributions I made as evidence that I am progressing. I have to change my schedule to spare the time for this priority. I can ensure that I am not being too easy on myself by listening to feedback.

By Victor Leung

Experience in software development, consulting services and technical product management. Understanding of business and technology with an MBA in Finance and a Master degree in Computer Science. AWS Certified Solution Architect with experience in building products from scratch and serving as a charismatic leader.

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