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Did you know that communities made us survive?

There’re one evolutionary reason why you can read these lines: You’re part of humanity – a highly developed species, which successfully adjusted to changing environments for thousands of years. How did we do this? Through collaboration. Let’s explore how it worked in the stone age and which role human interactions play in the modern world. The ExperienceZone way: Short and actionable.

You’re designed to engage

If we reflect upon human history, we always gathered together in groups. Clans and big families were the most prevalent type of community. They moved as nomads through ancient Africa in order to survive. Through the division of labor, we took care of food, clothing and shelter. Women often formed groups of gatherers and men went on the hunt. Both teams wouldn’t have been successful if they wouldn’t have collaborated. It ensured women to find the best spots for gathering fruit and men to make a prey. As we fast-forward through the history of inventions, such as fire, the wheel and thus first vehicles as well as agriculture, ideas of many got mashed into something, which represented a quantum leap for humanity.

Together we’re legion. This still applies to our modern world, in which everybody still wants to make a living. Covering basic needs is still priority one. In addition, we identified higher means (think Maslow’s pyramid), which we want to accomplish. How do we do this? By reaching out. You want to go places? Great! Then you need a host to let you crunch on her couch. You want to make the next career step? Way to go! Then you need your boss to step up for you in the steal-cage-death-match meeting. You want to change the world? Wow! Then you better reach out to do-gooder communities to get your ideas shaped and implemented.

How do you collaborate effectively?

Take ExperienceZone: It’s a social network. One of the most complex endavours one can launch nowadays. Without my development folks and my brother overlooking the technical stuff, we wouldn’t be able to come this far. Whatever you’re up to, you need the support of others:

  1. Make up your mind. What do you want to accomplish? On individual level, this falls back to your mission and aims in life. Once you gained clarity about your goals, you need to come up with a plan.
  2. Brainstorm resources. For each action in your plan, assign others who help you to follow through. This might be your partner remembering you to stick to your low-carb diet. This might be your peers supporting you in delivering the project in time and quality.
  3. Reach out. Once you know whom you can leverage, fill them in. Let folks know what you want to do, have or be by when. Let alone spreading the word brings you closer to achieving your objectives. Bear in mind, that people are more willing to support you if you give before you take, i.e. offer your support in achieving their mission and aims in life.

Why have you been born as a human being?

A philosophical question to which usually no objective answer exists. Instead, you need to search it inside yourself. That’s what religious people say. My take is this: Questions beginning with “why” are backward looking. Rather look forward and ask “what” you want to do with your life and “how” it needs to be designed. That’s the reason why I founded ExperienceZone.

You are part of a community

It is called humanity. That’s a big one. So, let’s slice and dice the elephant:

First, you want to understand what human beings are: The highest developed species on our planet (maybe in the universe). If Darwin would be reborn today and walk across the Times Square in New York, he would be surprised by way humans have manipulated natural laws to accommodate our own needs (assuming he remembered his past famous life). We developed medicine to cure diseases, yet created new ones by detaching from nature – especially in terms of our diet (think food allergies and intolerances). We fly thousands of miles on jet planes in only a few hours and have even been to the moon. Yet we invented drones to surveil each other and build nuclear bombs, which can kill thousands of human beings in seconds.

Secondly, maturity brings responsibility. The more we know and can do, the more options we’ve to design our lives and the world around us. That’s exactly the problem. The more choices you’ve, the harder to choose. Consequently, many are nowadays lost; in terms of how they should live, i.e. which standards they should follow (in terms of value, moral and ethics). All of us want to be happy. Happiness is an inner state. An expression of you being in your flow. What is your flow? It’s the stream you create by following your heart. In other words: By leveraging your passions to create something sustainable. Bottom line, happiness is a result of successfully building something that lasts. In fact, we want to leave a legacy. We long to be regarded as good human beings – during our lifetime and even thereafter.

Everyone wants to be happy. We just take different measures.

Funny how nature wrote the blueprint of life in such a way that highly developed species by default develop a sense of responsibility, which is based on a value framework. Latter requires that happiness is aligned to doing good deeds with a long term perspective. That’s the theory. Yet, why do many human beings actually harm others, torture animals and exploit our planet? Reason being, their incentive schemes encourage destructive behavior. As long as we can earn money with selling animal meat and skin, we’ll hunt and kill them. As long as religious leaders preach that everyone not believing in their god, is a bad human being, we embark in religious fights. As long as there’s a market for natural resources, we engage in fragging.

How do you step up your game?

Keep your head up though. You can make a difference and thus impact the behavior of everybody else. How? By creating a plan and executing it relentlessly.

  1. Appreciation: Recognize the fact that you’re equipped with the most powerful tools in the universe. Your brain, heart and gut are intelligence centers, which can move mountains if you only believe in yourself and your mission. Don’t sell yourself short. You’re as important as any other human being and can win everyone over with enthusiasm. Latter is no genetic disposition but can be developed by diving deep into topic areas. The more you know about something, the more interested and thus enthusiastic you get.
  2. Planning: Next you want to engage in an activity, which helps you to create enthusiasm. Just sit or lay down at a quite place, close your eyes and think about the status quo of our world. Put yourself in the shoes of an extraterrestrial being observing us from outer space: How’s the planet doing? How is humanity behaving on it? How do we treat each other, animals and earth? I’m sure you find some areas of improvement. Then think about how your dream world would look like. How do the human beings behave in it? Take a bath in these beautiful pictures. The power of visualization and imagination makes you feel these two worlds. After you’ve taken the decision to live in latter, it’s time to open your eyes, take a pen and paper and write down what you’ve seen. Draw three columns: The header of the left column is called “current state”, on top of the middle one write “actions” and the one on the right goes by the name of “target state”. 3-5 bullets per column to recollect the current and target state enough. Being mentally fully aware, you can now build the bridge between them by writing down specific actions human beings can engage in to improve the situation.
  3. Action: Finally, hold yourself accountable for making the first step. You know the actions we need to engage in. You can start with some straightaway like picking up trash at busy city centers. Others will see you and follow your example. In parallel, you want to leverage powerful levers to have a bigger impact immediately. Those are called communities. Just do some research in the internet. You want to save the black jaguar? Great, then WWF might be an organization to join. You want to stop wale fishing in Japan? Then Greenpeace might be an option. Come up with creative ideas and then switch into action mode by connecting with people in power-positions. Many people are passive consumers nowadays. That’s your chance to become an active producer and make our world a better place. You cannot imagine how large your impact is once you’ve a plan and start to execute it.

Do digital friendships soon replace real life ones?

Remember the first personal computers and consoles creeping into our living rooms in the 80s? People used to play video games alone and latter with some friends. I still remember the Street Fighter, Mario Kart and Secret of Mana sessions on the good old Super Nintendo  Nowadays, digital interactions are an integral part of our lives. Yet which value do they add and which risks are associated with them? Let’s look at this phenomenon in an ExperienceZone manner.

Opportunities of digital networks

Quo vadis digitalization? If you’re born before Y2K, you might be equally stunned about the speed digital infused our lives. Today, we´re using online communities to connect, communicate (duh, guess why the words are similar), and interact. Mind LinkedIn’s success story. Also, we’re spending a large amount of time on these platforms. I read that every human being is in average 20 times and in total 20 minutes on Facebook. Recently more than 1 billion people have been on Facebook at the same time. The servers must have been running hot! Great traction stats for Mark Zuckerberg and his gang. By the way: ExperienceZone is an online network too. We’re not striving for the same results though. More below.

So, let’s summarize the advantages of digital platforms:

  1. Information at your fingertips: Online networks give me a lot of information just in time. Facebook tells me that Bob has his birthday tomorrow. Thanks to modern technology, I can draft a personal note beforehand and schedule it to be send out tomorrow. Also, I might be able to copy the event to my calendar and be reminded next year in advance that I can even buy him a present. This feature doesn’t exist yet? Mark, that’s today’s gift for you. My pleasure. Also, I know where Tina is and what she has for lunch (although I might not be sincerely interested).
  2. Efficiency of interaction: If I don’t know or like Bob that much or if I just don’t have time (which is of course never an excuse), I can write “Happy B-Day” on his wall. If some of my other “friends” have birthday on that same day, I can even copy the note and post it on their walls too. That’s the gold standard of time-efficiency. Now, if Bob is impressed by my note (against all odds), he might invite me to his birthday dinner with his spouse Tina. Since I’m living really far away from these guys, I’ll dial in via Skype to the menage a troi and have my own dinner at home during the video conference. Ok, I might exaggerate here, yet these scenario might not be too far off.
  3. Non-binding nature: Yeah, I got 700+ Facebook friends. Quite frankly: I wouldn’t consider most of them as real friends (sorry guys). Most of them I met at places I traveled and we stay in touch since then. Others just added me to their buddy list without ever meeting me. It surely was my handsome profile picture… Joke aside: I accepted requests from strangers just because I was too lazy to ask where we know each other from or feared that I’ve forgotten that we actually met each other yet I just don’t know where and when anymore. Bottom line, it doesn’t hurt to have more or less friends in online networks, since these relationships as well as most content you’re posting is of non-binding nature.

Don’t believe the hype!

But where there’s light, there’s shadow. Online networking can make you addicted without adding any value. Like a rocket-chair it keeps you busy but leads to nowhere. Worst case, you spend too much time in the digital world and get socially isolated in the real one. Hence, here’re my recommendations to manage digital networks effectively:

  1. Which digital networks add value? Think twice about which digital networks you want to be part of. Do you really need a Twitter, Facebook, G+, Pinterest, Instagram etc. account? Think about which ones are aligned to your mission and aims in life? Where are your friends? Which networks represent communities you want to contribute to?
  2. Which people do you want to engage with? Also, think about with whom you want to engage with. Learn from my experiences: Don’t accept all friend requests (of course a picture of a beautiful girl might flatter you and make you press the “accept” button, yet this might be a fake profile). Strive to have a narrow and deep rather than a broad and shallow social network. At ExperienceZone we considered to limit the amount of travel mates (or friends in Facebook lingo) to 30, as we believe that this is the maximum amount of true friends you can have. We might pick this one up again. Also, we strive to have a rather small yet active community of people who really want to make a difference.
  3. How much time you want to spend in the digital world? Writing each other is the most efficient yet ineffective form of communication, whilst face-to-face is the most effective whilst admittedly most inefficient type. But communication is all about effectiveness. Don’t sacrifice it on the altar of efficiency. Set a daily time limit for digital interactions. At ExperienceZone (formerly known as GodBoy), we started with a 30 minutes time limitation for users. Why? We wanted them to spend their time in the real world rather than in the digital life.

Why is selfless proactive giving such a powerful tool?

Communities consist of members with similar interests and goals. I know, your fellows in the gym want to get either ripped or bulky. Yet both are actually results on the same scale: Physical exercises. So, why should you care about the guys you’re sharing barbells with? Let’s shed some light on it the ExperienceZone way.

Why are you part of communities?

We’re social beings rather than islands. This ExperienceZone truism makes you go to the church or spend your Saturday afternoon at the political party counter in a busy city center. We need other people to accomplish our goals and receive recognition alike. However, both don’t come naturally just because you’re a part of a community. I used to be a passive member of several NGOs. I donated, yet didn’t contribute actively in any of their activities. Eventually I left most of them. Why? It simply isn’t rewarding if you’re not leaning into something. Ok, I transferred money on a monthly basis and thus covered the giving part. Yet I neither knew what they do with it nor was I sincerely interested (of course, I wanted the last black Jaguars to be saved).

Ergo: Giving just to caress your ego or prevent a bad consciousness, is insufficient. You need to do it with care. This implies interest or even engaged contribution without expecting anything in return (at most the satisfying feeling to fill your karma account or in a social term, your favor bank account). So, how do you do this?

Practice intelligent selfishness

Yep, that’s what I call proactive selfless giving. Did I just commit the crime of creating an Oxymoron? Maybe. Follow me here: Everything everyone does involves self-interest. Period. Reason being, we all want to be happy. We just take different measures. Hence, everything we do shoots for this selfish target. The issue is that the more you let your ego shine through, the harder it will be to give freely, build relationships and thus leverage others to get there. But that’s exactly what you need to do to become contented! So, how do you get the keys to the kingdom?

  1. Run a status-quo community check. Which communities do you belong to? Any time-wasters which are not aligned to your mission or aims in life among them? If yes, leave them rigorously! Only stay in those 3-5 communities, which you really feel committed to. Take the sniper rifle rather than the shot gun approach.
  2. Get to know the key members. Communities, like any other organizations, are run by humans. So, you want to find out who’s in power positions. Get to know the people calling the shots. Attend yearly gatherings. Come up with ideas. Share them with enthusiasm. The more you care and show the leaders that you do, the bigger your impact.
  3. Take immediate action. Developing ideas is great. Yet they’re not worth investing any mental CPUs if you don’t follow through. Ideas are only the raw material of actions. Latter will get you from A to B. So think about what you can contribute instead of what you want to get out. Don’t worry: You’ll be at least rewarded with a good feeling. Plus come closer to the collective goal of the community (which is anyway aligned to your mission and aims in life).

Why only you can change the world

Community & Environment used to be buzzwords to me. In other words: I couldn’t care less. Others should work off their butts to defend human rights in China or save the last Snow Leopards in the Himalaya. Yet whilst bringing ExperienceZone to life, I discovered two things:

Firstly, communities are great levers for big time impact

I’m addicted to change. I love to change myself. This starts with cultivating new routines, from daily workout components to life-style transforming moves, like going raw. Also, I’m eager to help others to transforming into super-humans or do-gooders. Yep, I can just spark a fire within you. The door of change can only be opened from the inside. I dropped my hubris illusion that “I can change others”.

Communities represent groups of people. If I want to have an impact, I need to attend and contribute. Which routes do we want to cycle in my bike club? How do we want to reinvest the donations in my charity organization? What is the next ExperienceZone feature? Meantime, I make things happen rather waiting them to happen.

Secondly, planet earth counts on your support

It is high time to save our planet. As global warming progresses, the water level is rising and extreme weather phenomenons become more prevalent. In our ignorance, we fight each other instead hunger and thirst together. In my ignorance I used to rely on others. “Politicians, scientists and executives should fix this”. With that I gave away power and thus the ability to design my life plus the world eventually. Learn from my bad example. Don’t give away control.

Switch into active gear. Become a Social Superstar!

If you sit back and relax, you deny your creative power. Essentially, you behave like a victim. The little ball thrown in the air by the waves of life. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Gain clarity about which communities you belong to. Familiarize yourself with their purposes. Exit those which are neither aligned with your mission and aims in life. Stick to those 3-5 communities, which support your plans. Get to know influential people.
  2. Come up with creative ideas – to impact communities and our planet. Take every day or at least once per week dedicated time to brainstorm. No idea is too wild. Write them down.
  3. Reach out to others. Share your ideas. Enrich them with the view of like-minded people. The more an idea gets massaged, the better it usually becomes.
  4. Take action now. Don’t wait for others to make the first step. Become a forerunner. A lighthouse. The snowball, which causes the avalanche of positive change in this world.

How communities can make you successful

Picking up on the article Why are we happier in company than alone?, being in groups make us feel better yet also more successful. You are part of different communities. They represent groups of human beings established for various reasons. From large ones such as humanity, over society to small ones such as your neighborhood chess club.

Why are communities essential to our lives?

Evolutionary, we are gregarious animals. We found families and are committed to larger groups as well. In stone age, hunters went out together. They joined forces to circle the target and thus increased the probability to kill the animal. Gatherers too teamed  up. Younger members learned from older ones which fruit & vegetables are eatable and how to prepare them. Experiences and wisdom got refined as well as passed on for generations.

Why are you more successful in a group?

In contrast to many other species, human beings are able to learn from the experiences of others. Ok, this ensured survival. Yet is this also a receipt for success? Yes.

If you can build up on others’ experiences, say you learn from your peers that requesting a decision from your boss via mail doesn’t really work, you try to pitch her verbally. Since she’s apparently a listener rather than a reader, your ask might resonate with her and she might be more likely to take action upon it. Hence, building up on what doesn’t work is a great way to accelerate trial-and-error-loops.

Also, having a social network of experts allows you to tap into the common multiple of knowledge. This increases the chance that you get a better answer quicker than via conventional sources, such as your local library or even Google. You might be smarter than me but not smarter as us. The swarm intelligence is certainly a great lever of groups. I just read an article that especially open networks are a great success predictor. Of course, it is risky to engage with a heterogeneous bunch of people as you might be perceived as an outsider to many. On the flip-side the diversity bears huge opportunities of different ideas, viewpoints and knowledge you can utilize to accomplish your goals.

So, how do you best interact in communities?

Know which communities you belong to. Some memberships are for life, like your race (you cannot brush off your skin color). Others you can exit if they don’t support your aims in life. Therefore you want to check which ones are aligned with your mission. Then you can evaluate what you can contribute to their objectives and how they can help you. Engage with people who you admire and can learn from. Surround yourself with inspiring and empowering people. Yet know that you need to first give before you can ask for favors. Your gifts need to be high-quality. Become interesting to others! Finally, be aware that sheep-behavior can be dysfunctional at times where you want to be innovative. Always say what you think and stick to your guns. You are valuable because you and your opinion are unique.

What does ExperienceZone offer you?

ExperienceZone is a social transformation game that makes you learn and grow through experiences. It offers countless benefits. Below are the key ones.

You will be able to design your life as per your own preferences.

In ExperienceZone, you start where you are and you go where you want. There are seven areas of life: Nutrition & Energy, Family & Friends, Community & Environment, Sports & Relaxation, Recreation & Fun, Career & Financials and Self-Development. Which ones are is important to you right now? Gain clarity around your status quo and dive into the adventure!

You will receive actionable tips & tricks to improve your current situation

We are all about triggering change. Once you realized that you want to want to make experiences in certain areas, you can travel the respective continent and countries. Also, you might have knowledge about areas which are white spots on our map. Feel free to write a country yourself!

You will complete quests, which move you into your experience zone

Quests are the practical application of your knowledge gained whilst traveling a country. By putting the stuff you read in to practice, you check whether the topic enriches your life and lay the foundation for new routines.

You will be offered attractive deals with huge discounts for event quests

ExperienceZone partners with institutions, which want to provide you great experiences. Since doing new things, learning and growing makes more fun together, we team up. This also leads to attractive deals.

You will get to know like-minded people who will impact your experiences

We are social beings rather than islands. Hence ExperienceZone is designed as a team  game, which enables you to meet inspiring and empowering people. Make those who are on the same mission your travel mates.

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