Last week I talked about how the connections you have in life have a big effect on your life, your happiness and your odds of successfully achieving any goals you have for yourself. I talked about how the attitudes of those around you affect you, and about understanding when it’s time to disconnect from relationships that are detrimental to you. Today, we’re going to get into the flip side of this and talk about the positive impact your connections can have, and I’m going to give you all the details on building your tribe; a mutually supportive group of people that help each other to become all that they were meant to be.
Why you need a tribe
If you’ve decided to finally make the commitment to make your dreams happen and do something awesome with your life, congratulations! All I can say is that whatever happens, it will be worth it. Also, you’re in for a wild ride and there will be ups and downs along the way, so it will be easier for you and you’ll be far more likely to be successful if you have some support. If you can surround yourself will others who are travelling similar paths to yours, who will uplift and encourage you to keep going, then you’ll find the journey so much more fulfilling and enjoyable, too. So you need to start building your tribe; your support system for encouragement and assistance as you travel.
What the heck is a tribe, anyway?
For the purposes of this article, let’s define your tribe as a group of people who accept you exactly as you are; people who will support you through thick and thin and spur you on to ever greater heights. Your tribe is your posse, your “people”, your network of kindred spirits who really “get” you and respect you for who you are. Your tribe is genuinely happy for you when good things start happening for you and will keep you honest should you ever start to lose sight of yourself. Your tribe is there to bounce ideas around with, to help you understand the things you’re struggling with, and to keep you motivated and inspired to achieve the things you’ve always wanted to. Your tribe will celebrate with you when you’re successful and keep you from giving up in despair when you hit those inevitable bumps in the road. Your tribe is where you belong. It’s your community, your foundation and your spiritual home.
Strategies for building your tribe
Jim Rohn tells us that we’re an average of the five people we spend the most time with. So when you start building your tribe, you want to start by thinking about what kind of person you want to be. Do you want to be optimistic? Funny? Creative? An uber-successful, savvy business tycoon? What is that vision that you have for yourself? Figure out what you want out of life and who you want to be, because this will tell you what kinds of people you want in your tribe; start looking for people who are already like that.
Here are a couple of ideas to help you start thinking about your ideal tribe:
Personal Characteristics. When you think of your tribe, what kind of people do you want to be a part of it? What kind of personal characteristics do you want to cultivate within yourself, and what qualities would you want each member of your community to have (e.g. loyalty, trust, kindness, optimism, sense of humour, etc.)? Look for people who already display the kinds of personality and character traits that you admire and want to see in yourself. Remember that the attitudes of those around you will rub off on you, so choose wisely.
The “Stretch” Factor. Richard Tirendi said that “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” I love this quote because it’s a great reminder that you often learn best from people who are more advanced than you. There are definitely benefits in being able to mentor people who don’t have as much experience as you do so you want to include a great mix of people in your tribe, but you also want to make sure that you include people who are further ahead in their journey than you are because being around these people will inspire you and stretch you to go further and try harder than you ever thought you could. Find people who are smarter than you, more experienced than you, and better at what you want to do than you are. Being around these people will give you a constant reminder that what you want is possible, and this will condition you to start thinking that the successful achievement of your goals is inevitable.
Where to find tribe members
Once you know what kind of people you want in your tribe, the next thing to do is to actually go out and find them! Here are some ideas on how and where to find the ideal members for building your tribe:
Common Interests. If you want to build a tribe of people who are as fired up about wood-carving as you are, then start by looking for groups within your city that share this common interest. Ask the owner of the shop where you get your tools and supplies if there are clubs or workshops already in existence that you can check out. If you’re a budding author, find a small indie bookstore that carries self-published authors and see if there are local writing circles or book clubs that you can get involved in.
Social Media. One of the things I really love about the Internet is how it lets people from opposite ends of the planet connect, forming networks, and even friendships, across distances that twenty years ago would have been unthinkable. It allows people to find networks of like-minded individuals, no matter where they happen to be. So if you’re in a really small town or otherwise isolated, then try doing some keyword searches on Google and Twitter to help you find people who are interested in and passionate about the same things you are. You can find lots of online virtual groups this way, and if you add the name of your city to your search terms you might even be able to find a live meet-up group that’s not too far away from you. (Obviously, just be careful when reaching out to people you don’t know and make sure that any arrangements you make to meet in person are done in public places with lots of people… stay safe and always trust your instincts!)
Existing Connections. Do you already know people with whom you’d like to have stronger connections? Perhaps you could suggest meeting up someplace for coffee to discuss interests, hobbies or projects that you have in common. If it was fun for everyone, then maybe it could become a regular thing for all of you!
Be a giver, not a taker
Finally, when you start building your tribe, it’s so important to remember to give more than you take. Don’t try to create a tribe with the sole purpose of extracting every ounce of personal benefit you can out of the arrangement; nobody likes a leech. The whole point of a tribe is that it’s meant to be mutually beneficial for all involved. You help and support each other; yes you want to look for people who will inspire you, support you and help you to grow, but you absolutely must be that person for others, as well. It goes without saying that approaching others with any kind of arrogance is never going to work. Be nice. Be kind. Be helpful. Be friendly. Be honest. Be yourself. Be for your tribe members what you would like them to be for you.
Building your tribe takes a little bit of time and effort, but if you get the right kind of mix it can spark an awesome synergy where everyone involved is inspired, motivated and propelled to do and become more than they ever could have on their own.
photo credit: (c) Can Stock Photo