• Sean Lewis

It's Only Half


It takes a village to raise a child is such a well-known and oft-appropriated maxim. I’ve used it hundreds of times myself. On this occasion, it came across my path, it spun around my head for bit, and for whatever reason I began to think there’s something missing from it.


I spent some time rifling through search results and permutations of interpretations. Turns out that there is quite the can to be opened over the subject. There were the predominant, feel-good kinds, where the combined strength of a village helps to ensure the child receives the broadest of foundations and the parents, the broadest of supports. There were also many of the kinds that were about mis-attributions to either origins or, like this article, intent.


Whatever the reason, I left the internet still feeling that there was a darker half missing from the proverb’s point. Moreover, that the missing part is an essential key to best defining the size of that village, and a likely ‘why’ our news seems to be consistently revolving around conflict of inclusion.


What’s missing is being raised by the whole village allows both a child and the parents the best of opportunities to become *attached* to THE WHOLE VILLAGE. When the village helps in raising a child, the parents have better support, energy, and the time that they need to attend to the all the other, equally important responsibilities that go back to benefiting the village (contribution to work, household, and community). Moreover, as any one component of the village is less likely to have an over-proportional, negative impact the lesser the possibility of inclination to destroy the village. By not raising as the village only attachment to the immediate surroundings is encouraged, which allows for seeds of contempt or distrust to grow for other parts of the village—through perceptions of lack of supports or opportunities, or simply through ignorance of the other parts, and so on. It is also important to highlight here that any destruction to the village is only partially a cause from violence, and most frequently from misjudgment, apathy, or even willful neglect.


If this article were also a mathematical equation, here would be the part where the first variable would be inserted. “X” is the notion that “I’m not required to have a greater responsibility for something because there are whole institutions dedicated to the taking care of this responsibility. However, the significant challenge today is that many institutions, like education, mental health, healthcare in general, governmental services, and more are now simply overwhelmed because the scale within these institutions is often not matched to the scale of the problems. The other challenge is that we ALL have components of “X, as we simply could not accumulate anything if it weren’t so and, like all else human, the proportions will vary person to person.


In business-oriented culture the notion also manifests as the hyper-elevation of the individual accomplishment from our general culture, and the misconception of the self-made “individual.” In my opinion, no such thing can actually exist. Dig deep enough into any individual’s story, you WILL find examples of someone providing aid in one form or another—even if it were as simple as the spark to push harder, be better. When we hold the individual accomplishment in higher esteem than the collective achievement, it is easier to fail to see (or accept the responsibility of) the opportunities to lend assistance as they arise. Acknowledging the responsibility frequently becomes defining points in time that will collectively over a career be incredibly meaningful for professional growth, contribution, and advancement, as well as personal compensation.


Of significant importance in our emergence from Covid and the success of our global village’s recovery is widespread access to these defining points. It is through alignment of our business cultures that we can cast the broadest net—by prioritizing the combination of meaningful work and purchasing power, and not only for our nation’s workforces. So, the best we can as a country, a culture, or a business community give to our recovery for the best chance of success, is to remember three rules:


First, our successes in life can always find a contribution from someone in some way, so it’s our village-responsibility to pay it forward.


Second, always be mindful that we, our workforces, and their families all come from somewhere in the global village.


Third, our businesses are also villages, and if we want our workforces to become attached to our villages, return to the first rule!