Mandy Nicholson

The Creative Genius Corner

Lessons, musings and advice from the author of ‘The Life I Won’

It takes a village to raise a child AND to build a castle!

They say it takes a village to raise a child and I truly believe it does. The more positive influences you can have in a child’s life, the richer their experience. 

What I am finding right now on my Scottish adventure is that it also takes a community to build a ‘mini’ castle. The more positive influences and local knowledge the better the outcome!

I know that my house is not a castle, but it is my stepping stone towards my vision of owning one, so it will always be my ‘mini castle.’ Go and have a look at the comparison pics on my website if you haven’t already seen them. You will find them here

I am currently two months into the renovation, and I have made some amazing new friends with and through the local contractors, whom I chose to help me with my project. Before I even moved to Dalbeattie I knew I wanted to keep the work and the money within the local community. When you are entering a new place, it is important to let people know what you stand for. This means being a great communicator and demonstrating your values through what you say and do. People are going to judge you no matter what you do, so there is never a more important time to be yourself. 

This all comes down to values and identity. It also works both ways! I have chosen the contractors for my project based on their values and identity. I discovered this through local referral and by networking and asking questions. Remember that this was totally new territory for me and when I moved here, I knew nobody. It is your responsibility to find your people and communicate with them.

If this doesn’t come naturally to you then it can seem daunting. Just how do you make the contacts and build up a community around you quickly?

Your first step is to assume the position of leader and make sure that everything you do is about others not yourself. To put that into context, note that I said it was important for me to use local contractors and keep the money in the village. My renovation project itself may be somewhere for me to live but I am creating the space to provide a wonderful space for others to enjoy and to create local jobs. I am merely the ‘creator’ of this space, the inventor, and by following my dreams I bring others along with me.

This works for anything you create, be it a group on Facebook, a shop on the high street or a website. You are the leader, and you need others to make it work, to do that you must always make it about them. It takes a village to raise anything.

It begins, and ends, with people.

Your success and progress towards your goals and dreams will never be achieved alone. The more you try to ‘go it alone’ the lonelier and more difficult it can seem. Successful people build communities and inspire people.

Find your people.

Those people who push you to become a better version of yourself and stretch you towards your goals. The more you try to fix things without involving people, the harder your journey will become.

Turn outwards.

What I mean by this is that your success will come from looking outside yourself. Talk to people and listen to what they have to say. The more you involve those around you in your journey by encouraging them to feel a part of it the better you will perform personally. Drop the ego and involve yourself in others lives. I am currently building lasting relationships with the contractors renovating my house, with my new cleaner, with my hairdresser and beautician, with shop owners, dog walkers, local councillors, you name it!

The truth I share with them is about how the house will serve the community in its construction and in its business function. NOT as a means of income for me. Wealth is always a lag indicator of everything else you do.

Create hope and real understanding.

People generally think in terms of problems. Creating a vision of hope with positive outcomes helps to bring people together for the common cause. Creating a ‘can-do’ approach by acknowledging the problems whilst brainstorming and agreeing solutions helps to foster understanding. It also allows you, as the leader, to understand the community and their functional needs. This is powerful without the need for power.

They say knowledge is power, so get to ‘KNOW’ people and their hopes and dreams so that you can align them with yours.

Build momentum.

It is important to have vision, but if there is not tangible progress toward that vision it can feel out of reach. By encouraging people to work together and acknowledging their progress the vision becomes less out of reach and more real. I am playing out my house renovation through social media using photos and video and tagging people to make sure that the world sees my project evolving and who is helping. I have a massive vision of a Castle, but it feels a lot closer now we are creating a mini version. The community is helping to create something that will continue to serve them for many years and may create something even bigger. It is important that everyone sees the steps towards the goal at every stage. It keeps things moving.


Storytelling has become a positive tool in helping to create ‘can-do’ narratives. When you are building anything, it is vital that people understand why and how they are impacted. Even if you are building a group on Facebook to sell cosmetics, I want to know why I should buy from you and how I fit into the community. Your job is to create the story which will engage me, motivate me, and make me feel valued. It is just a bigger job when you have a bigger project. Lead by example always, even if you have a team of one! Create vision, set goals, make decisions, involve people, communicate progress, praise success and do it all through storytelling and people will follow in your wake.

Whatever your level of skill, whatever your domain, history shows us that success has always been built around community. It really does take a village, and when this lands for you and you decide to act as the leader, you will have the ability to build anything your heart desires. I am living proof of this, and I am on the journey to a castle which will be built by and for my community.

You’ve got this, collectively!

Love & Colour

Mandy x

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