Even if you are not a sports fan, this story may help you understand what it means to build a truly great community (online and off).
Two nights ago, the Boston Celtics lost to the Miami Heat in an NBA playoff basketball game. The loss merely evened the series at 3 games apiece, setting up a final game in the series for tonight, with the winner moving on to the NBA Finals. However, it was a humiliating, blow-out loss on for the Celtics on their home court.
But an amazing thing happened at the end of the game. While you might expect fans to leave early or sit dejectedly, perhaps even boo their team for such a poor effort in a game that could have clinched a trip to the finals, the Celtics' fans reacted quite differently. Watch this video of the end of the game to see what happened:
Yes, for four minutes the Celtics' fans cheered their team on with a "Let's Go Celtics" chant, despite a poor effort in a potentially series-clinching game. The fans of course understood the complete backstory of the team.. a team that lost not one but two players to serious heart ailments that required season-ending heart surgery. A team with three aging future Hall Of Fame players looking for one last swing for the fences. A team that lost another starter to injury early in the playoffs.
Watching this, though, made me think of how these fans were reflecting the power of "community", how an engaged collective can truly inspire and take a group to a higher place.
It is this power that inspired us to start our company.. and the reason I get irritated when potential customers ask us more questions about whether we are VC-funded than the success stories we have helped cultivate over our many years as a community technology company.
I think of great people like Lynda Mitchell, who took her personal struggles dealing with a child food allergies and started the amazing Kids with Food Allergies community. Or even in the corporate world, a person like Colleen O'Connell, who gave fans of the WarriorCats book series an incredible place to hang out together online.
How you cultivate your community, the way you treat the people in your community, and the more open you are with giving everyone a voice.. all of these things can lead to greatness, whether you a team trying to win a championship or the fans cheering them on.
Who knows how the Celtics' story will end this season. Perhaps they will lose in Miami tonight, or perhaps they will overcome the odds again, inspired by their community of fans, and go once more unto the breach, ready to raise one more championship flag.
Either way, the forceful cheering of their fans was an inspiring reminder of the power of community. It's a message for all of us in the trenches trying to mobilize our own troops, trying to stick together for a common cause. And that is really what "community" is all about.