No matter who you are; no matter what you aspire to do; and no matter where you are in life, you need a tribe. Yes, you. All of us do. That even includes those of us who are loners and introverts. So why is a tribe so important? There is an African proverb believed to have originated with the N’gambai people that I love (and repeat often), and this quote to me provides the perfect answer to why a tribe is so important:
“If you want to travel fast, go alone.
If you want to travel far, go together.”
No matter how self-sufficient we all believe ourselves to be, the truth is we all need a good support system, especially when pursuing a dream, purpose, vision, or calling in life. It’s only when we have “traveling companions” as we journey towards our goals that we’re able to reach our full potential–to go farther in life.
Anaïs Nin seems to subscribe to a similar philosophy: “Each friend represents a world in us, a world not possible until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting a new world is born.” That’s such a beautiful statement when you really think about it. It means that there will be special people who have the ability to come into our lives for the purpose of opening us up to ourselves so that we can blossom like a vibrant flower; so that we can be born to new possibilities that we may never have believed existed for us.
You can’t possibly need more convincing than that as to why having a tribe is crucial.
I will admit that building a tribe is not necessarily “snap your fingers” easy though; it does take effort and commitment. But that’s no reason to be deterred: anything worthwhile takes effort, and in this instance your efforts could pay life changing dividends.
This post is meant to serve as a road map to help you along this kindred spirits building journey. I’ve listed some inspirational quotes, along with my corresponding game plan in commentary form, to help you create, build, and sustain your very own amazing tribe.
CREATE: WHO TO HAVE IN YOUR TRIBE
Before we get into who to have in your tribe, knowing who not to have in your tribe is just as important! I wrote this quote in a previous blog post a while back: “People will have an indignant ‘how dare you’ attitude when they are afraid to try–or have already failed at–what it is you have the courage to do. Keep that in mind as you hear what they have to say about you and your dream…then ignore accordingly.”
Let’s have a honesty moment. Our dreams and visions aren’t meant to be shared with everyone, even if “everyone” might sometimes include a few that are close to you. Some folks won’t understand, or just can’t handle, the out-of-the-ordinary, paradigm-shifting aspirations you have for yourself. Those individuals are not your tribe members, so don’t allow their negativity and chaos to enter.
As for who to seek out to create your tribe? I think writer and blogger Jo Hilder summed it up so perfectly as to how to identify your tribe members: “They’ll be the ones who, when confronted with your independence, confidence, growth, courage, creativity and success, will say ‘I knew you had it in you;’ instead of ‘and just who do you think you are?’” Surround yourself with those dreamers; doers; believers; and thinkers who not only see all that you have to offer but also encourage you to share it with the world.
BUILD: YOU GOTTA GIVE TO GET
Once you lay the tribe ground work it’s time to build! You know the old saying “If you want a friend, be a friend?” Hello! The same applies when you are building a tribe. If you want to build a great tribe, try being a strong member of someone else’s. Be supportive. Encourage. Constructively criticize. Commiserate with them in disappointments for a moment before kickin’ ‘em in the pants to propel them forward in the pursuit of their purpose.
Remember, the seeds you plant are what you’ll end up harvesting.
SUSTAIN: TREAT THOSE “WEIRDOS” RIGHT
When you finally find your people–those special individuals who believe in, and celebrate, you in all of your unique wonderfulness–you’ve need to do what it takes to get them to stick around. Make them feel appreciated (see “You Got Give to Get” above) and cherished. Hmmm, “cherished.” Let’s look at what that word means, shall we?
1.) protect and care for (someone) lovingly. “He cared for me beyond measure and cherished me in his heart.”
synonyms: adore, hold dear, love, dote on, be devoted to, revere, esteem, admire;
2.) hold (something) dear. “I cherish the letters she wrote.”
synonyms: treasure, prize, value highly, hold dear
3.) keep (a hope or ambition) in one’s mind. “He had long cherished a secret fantasy about his future”
synonyms: harbor, entertain, possess, hold (on to), cling to, keep in one’s mind, foster, nurture
I was a tribe member before for someone who seriously took my support for granted. This person was constantly seeking encouragement, assistance, advice, and guidance but frequently failed to willingly give meaningful support in return. Despite the fact that I was one of this person’s biggest champions, all they did in return is selfishly ask for more and more. It gets worse. I began to discover evidence that there were times this person knew I could have used assistance or support with some things they had the ability to help me with and didn’t! I’m sure you can guess what happened: I called “Scene!;”exited stage right; and the lights faded to black on my membership in that counterproductive tribe.
Your tribe members should be protected; cared for; embraced; and appreciated. Treat them like a valuable prized possession–because in truth that’s exactly what they are. Just think about it: your tribe members expend their precious time, energy and resources in an effort to help push you forward. There are tons of other things they could be doing with that time, including things to advance their own dreams, but instead they willingly spend that time on you because they believe in you. That, in no uncertain terms, is a gift. Never forget to regard and treat it as such.
Tribe membership may not always be exactly equal, but it should definitely always be reciprocal. Real tribe members always try to protect one another.
IN THE FINAL ANALYSIS
In the final analysis, you know who the best tribe begins with? You! It doesn’t end there, but it definitely all starts with believing, trusting, and embracing the unique voice, talents, and gifts you were bestowed with to share with the world. And you know what? When you build, sustain, and love you, it’s not hard for other to follow the precedent you set by treating you in the exact same manner you treat yourself.
So, what’s it going to be: travel faster or farther? Having a tribe can make the difference in which one you will do.