RECENTLY I HAD COFFEE with a friend who leads a great business. They’re a powerful part of this community, always looking to support others and make a difference.

He happened to leave a very generous tip for the coffee shop owner, but it was our conversation afterward which made it memorable.  He said to me, “I feel that it’s important to support all these other businesses in town.  They help me and I help them, and it makes for a great community.”

You might think that I’m making too much out of a small act of kindness, but this really is about the way he thinks.

We all want to live in wonderful communities, right?  Yet it can be hard to realize that each of us is a member of the collective, with far more impact than we give ourselves credit for.

If I walk into a shop and greet the person by name, I’ve made a more personable community.

If I give to others who are struggling, I’ve made a more generous community.

If I give help and ask for help, I’ve made a more interdependent and trusting community.

My point is that I have the opportunity to think of “my partners” as much more than just the few companies I’ve written contracts with.  Partners include the customers who are likely to talk about me with their colleagues.  A partner can be the lady who delivers my mail.

A partner may even be that person I left a generous tip with.

We do this because we all have times we need to ask for help from others.  Or we need help but are too proud to ask.

Partners sustain us.  And if anybody can be a partner (in the broad sense) then that’s our community.

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