While I was being included and felt welcome, it was a guest speaker at our school who inspired me to be proactive in forming community. He offered us advice: “Always be kind because you never know what others are going through. There are probably classmates of yours who walk down these halls and don’t talk to a single person in a day.” I recall that moment vividly, thinking of a boy in our class who didn’t talk to anyone. I invited him to sit with us for lunch starting that day.While it was a small gesture, he reached out to me years later to thank me for creating that space for him. It’s so easy for us to extend kindness, and that moment helped me realize just how much connection has the power to shape our lives.
The Grand, our group coaching platform, is a manifestation of all that I’ve learned in community building. Our guiding principles and rituals lay the foundation for our members. The first principle is ‘We come together as humans’. It sets the tone of our community and establishes that we don’t care about titles or roles. Rather, we care about you and your stories. Because of this, people can show up how they want to. This ties closely to one of our other principles: ‘Vulnerability is a superpower’. People want to share their experiences, but so often feel like they don’t have permission to do so or that they won’t be accepted. In some ways, the pandemic has enabled us to be more vulnerable because we’ve all been through a collective trauma that established a deep sense of understanding. While we’ve developed empathy from this shared experience, we encourage our community to continue practicing empathy through one of our rituals called “red, yellow, green”. This ritual helps people express where they are in a given moment. Green means “I’m here and fully present”, yellow means “I’m here but there’s a couple other things on my mind” and red means “I’m physically here but my head is completely elsewhere”. It’s a great way to open up conversations because we often assume that when we’re meeting with a group of people that everyone is green. By starting with a check in, we can better meet people where they are and ensure that nothing gets lost.
We started The Grand with a mission to make the world a less lonely place. We can feel most alone when going through a big work or life transition or challenge. My hope and dream for The Grand is that no one will have to walk alone when they're going through the hard stuff, that they have a group of confidants and a community, so they can not just work through it, but also become the grandest version of themselves in the process.