One of the world’s longest standing social constructs is the tribe; a group banded together in the pursuit of a common goal. Think hunters and gathers. Monasteries. Pre-tech villages and 20th Century ‘hoods. Church parishes. Scout groups. Sport teams. Even a colony of bees.
Over time our personal goals have had the freedom to evolve and, in response, so too have our collective missions.
We in the startup community are fortunate in not having to fight for survival (at least on a personal level). And yet for others this is still not the case. Take, for example, a camp of refugees or a group of addicts in rehabilitation or a troop of soldiers at war. The ties and the tensions within these tribes are compounded by the gravity of their situations. In times of crisis, we’re forced to acknowledge our need for other people.
Perhaps that explains why we — in our privilege — have become less dependent on tribal bonds; it’s no longer a matter of life or death. So when mortality is removed from the equation, what is it that ties us together?
THE SWEET FEELING OF FINDING YOUR PLACE
In my first week of working remotely, I stayed in a hostel. The place was beautiful, with a healthy restaurant, yoga classes on my doorstep, and a community of down-to-earth people who I instantly connected with.
We were a match made in heaven, I felt totally at ease. Until I started to work.
Now don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t the work itself that disturbed my peace; I love what I do. But when you’re sitting in a cosy lounge, and it’s 10pm on a balmy Bali eve, and people keep walking past you on their way out saying ‘Oh you’re still working, you poor thing!’ it threatens your resolve. I found myself responding with lines like ‘Yeahhh I just have to hit this deadline’ rather than bragging about how cool the project was. Honestly, I didn’t think they’d get it because everyone else was there to escape their jobs.
So the next morning — deadline looming — I dragged myself out to the town’s only coworking space and, before I’d even sussed out my favourite seat in the house, that feeling of peace had returned. It’s awesome to be reminded that no matter where you are in the world, you can slip into a community like Huckletree, Dojo, Mutinerie, Toolboxor AlleyNYC and find some semblance of a comfort zone. A place where you can nerd out about all these ideas and ambitions and fears and people will just get it.
Sounds like heaven, right?
NOW, TIME TO FIND YOUR PEOPLE
In my last coffee break, one of my Dojo desk buddies (a Dutch journalist) asked me why everyone is coming here instead of going to cafes. That story helped her to understand why I — and many others — feel so strongly drawn to coworking but I don’t think it was enough to turn her into a similarly committed advocate of the movement.
That’s the thing. No one can hand you the answer to where you’ll find that same sense of belonging for yourself, but we can raise some questions to help you work it out. Exploring it yourself is way more interesting than having a life plan preached at you from a pedestal anyway.
So, here are four ways to uncover your tribe.
1. EXPERIMENT WITH YOUR ENVIRONMENT
The people around you can reinforce your lifestyle habits and make it easier for you to establish new ones, for better or for worse. Naturally, you’ll want to add positive influences — that doesn’t have to be an objectively good influence, rather someone who (or something that) drives you in the direction you want to go.
- Do you thrive amongst like-minded people, or are you more motivated by being the black sheep?
- Would you gain more from committing yourself fully to one all-inclusive lifestyle, or pooling the positives aspects of multiple communities?
2. TUNE IN TO YOUR OWN WAVELENGTH
Whatever you learn about your lifestyle, believing you can talk to someone who has experienced what you’re going through helps you to feel supported, even if you choose not to lean on that crutch.
This isn’t to suggest that the only people who could possibly understand you are those in the same boat but when you’re looking for your tribe, think about what’s not negotiable.
- What do you need your community to understand and accept about you and your lifestyle in order to feel open and comfortable
- In what ways do you want to grow your understanding of other people?
3. EXPLORE YOUR PERSONAL VALUES
As the world becomes increasingly connected and mobile, we’re improving our ability to find these people who understand us. Beyond having access to the people right in front of us, we can find anyone with an internet connection. We can seek out people who share our values.
The thing is, to do this, you need to know what your personal values are. If you’re not into introspecting this will be more difficult but you’ll still get a good vibe from your potential tribe if you have a similar idea of what’s important in life. Here are some examples of common personal values to get you thinking; see if there are any that resonate or jar.
- Achievement — ambition, status, wealth, respect
- Integrity — honesty, trust, fairness, equality
- Reliability — consistency, commitment, responsibility, accountability
- Growth — learning, change, openness, impact
4. MAKE YOUR MISSION A MOVEMENT
And finally, to bring us full circle, we’re going back to the idea of a shared mission. This runs deeper than shared values; it’s about a group creating some kind of change together. Or fighting it. Be it surviving against all odds, making a success of a startup, freedom, wellbeing or preservation, tribes that grow around a core mission attract members dedicated to furthering it.
- What role do you want to play in changing the world?
If you’ve found something you really believe in, pinpointed the impact you really want to make, seek out all those clever people who want to throw themselves into the same mission and build yourselves a tribe.
“The business world has a long history of conservative tribes, of groups of people who relish the status quo. The big news is that this has changed. People yearn for change, they relish being part of a movement, and they talk about things that are remarkable, not boring.” — Seth Godin, Tribes