By Jackie Thoms for Enlivening Edge Magazine
Looking at any Community of Practice, I see a large extended network—vibrant, alive, and buzzing with movement. Each node in this network shines with a particular luminosity, a different colour, a unique shape, even if just barely perceptibly. Moving closer, I might hear a certain hum, buzz, or even a tune. Others radiate so much passion and energy that I don’t need to listen closely at all.
When we join a Community of Practice, what is ours to do? How do we engage with this cacophony of sight, sound, and taste—this symphony of senses? It is joyfully simple, immensely accessible, and fundamental to a life worth living. In short, we engage with curiosity. Unabashed, raw curiosity.
For a term that historically was a warning from people in fear of killing the cat, curiosity has had a bad rap. But as I sense into the network of a community of practice, curiosity is the ingredient that enlivens such a community, brings energy and vitality to each node, and attracts more nodes to connect.
Something powerful happens when we become a living question of curiosity. We ignite our profound and innate capability to care. To care for each other, for our differences, and for ourselves. To care for all of Life.
For me, such moments of profound caring can feel almost random. Care for a small, twitchy rodent in my garden, or a fly stuck in the window struggling to be freed. I might feel moved to check on a person on the street in need, instead of walking by. My curiosity is enlivened and life feels more worthwhile.
Expanding this view into a Community of Practice or even a social ecosystem, I see how our collective curiosity and care intertwine and engage in a self-generating pattern. A beautiful pattern that can open us to a boundary-less dance of compassion. Compassion for our humanness, our failings and our learning. Compassion for our world.
For as long as we have lived in groups, communities of practice have existed in one form or another: from guilds focussed on craftsmanship, or informal gatherings around hobbies, sports, or passions to special interest groups in organisations and broader networks. These communities have evolved as a core way of organising ourselves, shaping our identities individually and collectively, and generating social capital. So, what would it take to bring ourselves more consciously to them? How can we do that collectively? And, underneath it all, what are we choosing to serve with our curiosity, care, and compassion?
Jackie Thoms brings powerful intuition and clarity as an organisational consultant and executive coach. She is committed to bringing attention and care to the health of client systems and is on a journey herself of conscious and awake living and working. Some of her most profound learnings and insights come from day-to-day challenges, as well as the joy of motherhood. Contact Jackie via email “firstname.lastname@example.org” or via LinkedIn.