There was no bailiff bellowing, "All rise!"

I had no gavel, no flowing black robe.

Nevertheless, I was a judge for a day. A judge for community members aspiring to attend the inspirational 2019 Annual Harwood Summit from September 19–21, 2019, at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, PA, through The Patterson Foundation's A2A Live! program.

The applicants were nameless on their questionnaires and, although they appeared to be diverse in their backgrounds, some common themes emerged.

Most notable was this: although Rich Harwood and his organization focus on solving community problems and improving public life, many of the applicants – who have studied and engaged in the Harwood method – reported using those very strategies in their personal lives.

At first, those uses struck me as odd. But upon reflection, I recognized the obvious: families and groups of friends are, in many ways, communities. They routinely face challenges and problems, many of which are prevalent in the broader community: financial difficulties, political disagreements, sickness, addictions. I could go on. Although the interpersonal dynamics might differ, the circumstances and conditions in small groups – including families – frequently mimic those in society. As such, it is just as important in our private lives to listen and learn, to look both inward and outward, and to seek to build common bonds based on mutually beneficial outcomes.

So, the verdict is in: the value of constructive leadership and collaboration are as vital in our personal lives as they are in our public lives.

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