“In life, there are people who will ultimately add to you, and people who will ultimately take away from you.” -My late father

What is a “tribe?” Whether you need to enhance your environment to help you get out of a difficult situation, or you’re looking to get to the next level toward your ideal career, your tribe is a non-negotiable, critical component of the journey. Your tribe is the group of people who will support you no matter what crazy idea you present to them, be there for you when you’re having rough days to remind you of your value, and reliably lend a helping hand to get you where you need to be. They know who you are at your best, and they help you see it, too.

How can you generate a list of the members of your tribe? Consider the following question:

If you called in the middle of the night with a ridiculous idea – such as going after your secret dream job of becoming a professional circus trainer – who would pick up the phone and, after rubbing their eyes and wondering if you’ve lost your mind, would respond with some combination of excitement for you and asking how they could help you?

Make an exhaustive list of as many people as you can think of who come to mind. To make sure your list is complete, it may help to consider all the areas of your life: people from any schools you’ve attended (including childhood friends), current and former colleagues, mentors, friends, family, extended family, those who follow you on social media, people to whom you’ve recently sent text messages, people from religious or neighborhood communities, those you’ve volunteered with, etc. 

What about those whose names do not appear on the list? Just because someone isn’t in your tribe doesn’t mean they are actively unsupportive of you (those people exist, of course). People in your inner circles – including immediate family members – may not appear on your list, and that’s completely fine. They may simply not be interested in your industry, feel insecure about their own situation, or be otherwise occupied with something that is consuming their time. Unfortunately, what tends to happen is that when you share ideas with them, they can put their own challenges onto you in the form of doubt, fear, or bad advice. On the days when these other voices try to prevail, your tribe will remind you of your value and truth, so it’s important to be clear who they are.

What should you do with the list of tribe members? 

  1. Allocate more of your time from people who drain your energy to people on this list. It doesn’t mean you have to cut people out of your life necessarily, just that you prioritize spending time with those who believe in you versus those who drain you.
  2. Have a list of them readily visible and reach out to them when you need a boost. If you’ve had a bad day, have forgotten your value, or need encouragement to keep going, these are your people to call or text. 
  3. Actively grow your list of tribe members. One way to do this is to ask the members of your tribe to introduce you to the people in their life who lift them up. Who are their mentors, supporters, encouragers? Your tribe will happily connect you to members of their tribe, because they love and support you. 

In his brilliant little book, Together is Better, author Simon Sinek sums up the idea with one of my favorite quotes: “You can’t do it alone, so don’t pretend you can.” We need each other to get through life’s journey – period. Your tribe will be there for you so that you can thrive. Why wait? Reach out to one of them now and tell them how grateful you are to have them in your life, and I bet you’ll have the courage to make a positive step on your journey today.

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