Saturday, 7:01 pm
What is a tribe, exactly? Let’s ask the Internet.
a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader.
Seth Godin talks a lot about tribes – why they are important, how they form and how you can lead one.
If you really care about something – it’s very like that there are others like you out there.
But, should you give a damn? Or are you better off spending your time working on your own? What is the benefit of belonging to a group?
There seem to be three broad reasons when you look into it.
You can change from what you are now to what you really are
We spend a large part of our lives learning to conform. From being told what to do as kids to signing contracts to do work as adults.
We learn there is a right way to act, to be, to think. The people around us act and behave in this way and anything outside the norm is odd or uncertain.
Along the way, we may have forgotten what we really are at the core.
If you’ve watched Sherlock Holmes, the one with Benedict Cumberbatch, there is a scene where a villain urinates in the fireplace to show that he can ignore any rules that others think is in place.
That’s probably not a wise approach to follow but the principle – one where we start to trust ourselves more and don’t try so hard to fit in – may help us move in the right direction.
And that’s one where you realise that most of the things that stop us from doing things are barriers that we have put up ourselves, barriers in our heads.
We may have stories about why we don’t fit in, why we’re different, why we’re not going to be accepted. We may have issues about gender, race, nationality among others.
But, these are stories we tell ourselves. And, if we want to change, we can find people with similar experiences and stories of change. People like us – and that’s one kind of tribe.
You can be part of a movement for change
If you believe in something – believe enough in it that you’re ready to change the world, then having a tribe will help.
Let’s say you want to stop fracking, change the law on cycling without a helmet or stop parents smacking their children – there is probably a group of people out there working very hard on the issue.
People will have different views – and so you will find multiple groups that will welcome you in. The price of entry, however, is that you have shared values and beliefs.
This kind of tribe is simply an emergent property of human society. It’s not good or bad – it just is.
Climate change activists and far right campaigners are simply different kinds of tribes. Society in general decides whether one tribe is good and another is bad – whether some can be allowed and other s controlled or banned.
If a well-defined tribe doesn’t exist around your area of interest, then you have the chance to be a leader, to bring together scattered people around your vision for a better (in your opinion) future.
You can be part of a group that has a common commercial interest
This final tribe is something that is so common that many of us just don’t realise how important it is.
Business – commerce – is an activity that happens because people trust each other. The easier you make it to trust someone, then more likely it is that your business activity and sector will do well.
That’s why every city has a Chamber of Commerce – a tribe that brings together local businesses. That’s why there are guilds and associations.
Imagine you’re setting up a market – should you put people that do the same thing close together or far away?
Should you group florists, food joints and book sellers close by or mix them up?
It turns out that having your competition close to you is better for customers.
When they can quickly compare between competing offerings, they make decisions more quickly.
When you can see what the competition is doing, you can become better at what you do.
A tribe isn’t a group of people that hang on your every word…
Some people think that finding a tribe is the same as finding a following – a group of people who idolize you and will buy everything you put out.
The people who have that kind of following, however, almost never seem to have set out with that in mind.
It looks like the ones that succeeded cared first – believed first, and the success followed later.
If you want to find your tribe – perhaps you should start by being clear on what you believe in.