"The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness."
- Dalai Lama
Appreciation is at the heart of an Open Source community and the basis for living life in general. Appreciation is a motivator, a heart-warmer and the essence to connecting to other humans.
We easily take things for granted and it is our perception of what is good that sometimes needs to be calibrated. At this particular time of writing with the War on Gaza and the downing of MH17 appreciation seems far and in between. It is at times like this we neglect the small things that come to us. A smile from a passer-by, a helping hand from your neighbour or a touch on the shoulder from someone you actually do not even know.
Our own efforts are sometimes so central to the goals we need and want to achieve that someone that is not with us can only be against us. Taking a different perspective can make anyone a helping hand in achieving your goals.
Some things I have learned that can provide a different perspective and open you up to appreciation:
Take a break, a deep breath, a pause. it gives you calm and distance to have a look what actually is going on around you.
Assume best intent. People most often do their best according to their motivation, even though that might not be your motivation
Eat good food in small amounts. Having to digest a lot of food draws away your energy and makes you grumpy.
Start your day with some quiet time. Your dreams can be quite disturbing and will make you get up in a chaotic state at times. These 5 to 10 minutes can be a perfect time to plan your day. If you are on the right track yourself this will leave you with time to appreciate your surroundings.
Workout! Seek competition with yourself not with others.
As a community manager, working for the TYPO3 community, I do talks and presentation at events about communication, innovation. In my daily work I realise how important it is to appreciate people for what they do.
On the one hand the big size of the community makes things go unrecognized and on the other hand the bazaar nature of the community does not always align with the competitive nature of the companies that implement our content management system for big projects that have the most important communication channel, their website, based on our software.
Everyone deserves a towel
Preparing talks, especially long ones, can be a nerve-wrecking experience, going over your notes the night before, getting little sleep and being nervous before your talk.
For last month’s Developer Days of the TYPO3 community I came up with the idea to shower the community with appreciation. I prepared 20 towels with embroidered on it “member of the TYPO3 community” with our orange project logo clearly visible.
For the opening of the Developer Days I hooked up community members that have been in the TYPO3 community for a long time already with totally new comers. Getting the new comers to the front is difficult. They are not new for nothing. With some nice words and to the point questions I was able to get ten pairs together. Their only mission was to connect and act as TYPO3 buddies and tweet pics with the hastag #t3buddies.
I feel very comfortable doing something like this. The payoff is immediately there. People connect, have fun and communicate. Isn’t that what community is about?
For the closing part of the event I came up with a similar idea, but then I made the ceremony even easier. People were just asked to give a towel to someone they appreciate. This started incredibly slow, showing how shy people are to show their appreciation. As momentum built people came up to the front of the audience in rapid succession and I was out of towels in no time.
"Everyone deserves a towel"
- Karsten Dambekalns
Then all of a sudden I heard someone in the back say: ‘Everyone deserves a towel’. I felt a bit embarrassed not having enough towels for everyone. On the other hand it also made me realise that appreciation is not a bulk thing, but something we do on an individual basis. You as an individual let someone else know you appreciate them. There is gerat power in there.
No matter in what community you are, because basically we all are in a community one way or the other, look around you and you will see a lot to be thankful for of despite shit going on around you.
On a daily basis think of something you are grateful for or thank someone you appreciate! It will make life a lot lighter.