The Power of Your Tribe: How A Community Makes Us Stronger
On a cool afternoon in December, in the mountains overlooking Castaic Lake in California, my friends and I set out to complete a mission. My humble tribe of middle-aged exemplars of grit were part of a much larger team of 500 Optimize coaches completing a Spartan race event.
Barely a few minutes in and four of us entered the frigid waters of the lake to trudge through waist-high water for a little more than 100 yards. Holding hands high overhead, we supported each other as we attempted to navigate the river bottom with its many logs and low spots. Halfway through we began signing to steady our shaking bodies.
Having completed the water portion of the event we made our way to the first of many walls we needed to traverse. My friend Kim, a short portly woman in her 50’s went ahead of me. Grasping the top edge of the five-foot wall Kim lost her grip and slammed hard to the ground.
Time stood still as I waited to see if she was okay or if I needed to get help. I reached down to give her a hand off the muddy ground and was surprised when she pulled hard on my outstretched arm. She looked me square in the face, eyes as big as cue balls as she declared “get me up, I’m going OVER THAT WALL!” And she did.
There is something in the power of others. Just being with a team elevates you to a new level of possibility. This would not be the last time in the two-hour race that Kim would surprise me with bouts of strength and energy beyond her normal state. She would go on to complete every obstacle and cross the finish line with three other powerful determined women.
I have always performed better when I am on a team compared to when I race alone. I don’t always complete my events faster, but I always feel stronger. I often participate in obstacle course races with people who are recovering from illness or working towards weight loss. Even in the most out-of-shape team members, I see a level of strength and perseverance not seen in any other activities. Being in the company of others truly is a game-changer.
It has been said, you are the average of your 5 closest friends. This can be said about your wealth, your health, and even your relationships. The people you spend the most time with have the greatest influence on you and on every aspect of your life. If your top 5 are exemplars of all you wish to achieve, you are on a good path to fulfillment. If however, your top 5 do more to derail or outright sabotage your work, you may want to re-evaluate who you spend your time with.
Seth Godin, in his great books “Tribes” and “We are all weird”, describes the idea of belonging to a tribe; a group of like-minded people who find unity in a shared purpose or lifestyle. Within your tribe, you bond around your common values and virtues. You still have unique qualities, but your shared qualities contribute most to the success of all members of your tribe.
When it comes to a shared purpose the general sentiment is that no one reaches the summit alone. This is true of all endeavors. Going forward in the company of allies ensures a greater level of success and heighten sense of being alive. Your band of brothers or sisters know that their success and yours depends on mutual support.
How do you join or build a tribe? Start by knowing your own journey and goals. The idea is not to find a group, join, and then embody their goals. Set a clear direction for what you want to accomplish, and then set out to find others who share your desires and interests. A great place to start is with community groups. You can also find great groups of passionate people with your same interests using Meetup.com. Of course, there are also great groups on social media, but it is best to find the groups first and join their social media group once you know they are a good match for what you are looking for.
Watch out for the haters. Not everyone will support you. This can be out of a sense of jealousy, ignorance, or apathy. You need to know none of these are under your control so let it go, and let them go. Or at least do not share your quest for improvement directly with them. They often would prefer you fail so you can be just like them, so don’t let them sabotage your journey.
Most important; be yourself. Celebrate your success. Celebrate your tribe’s success. Go the distance and never give up.
Author and Optimize Coach
David is a writer and coach specialing in awakening human potential. David likes to think of himself as a conscious creator, student of life, Super Dad, chef, Spartan Athlete, and Optimize Performance Coach. Writing for Dr. Kusher and the CFL community is just one of his many joys.