People have a persistent yearning for community, association, and belonging. We satisfy this yearning not by looking for people that are different from us, but by seeking out people who are like us. We have a natural desire to be around people who understand our situations, our emotions, and our dreams. Like the warm glow of a crackling fire, there’s a sense of comfort in common identity. People form tribes around intersecting interests. There’s nothing inherently bad about tribal identity unless you fall into the tribal trap.
Associations exist for every nook and cranny of society. Whether based on ethnicity, trade, political cause, charitable cause, gender, schools attended, emotional experience, religious beliefs, age bracket, or whatever else you can think of, rest assured, there’s an association for it.
The trap is formed from limiting beliefs that can emerge within your chosen tribe. For example, success can’t be achieved because of some external reason. Such beliefs trap the group’s thoughts in fruitless examination of “why” a difficult circumstance exists instead of reaching a common focus on “how” to surmount it. A trapped tribe remains fixated on “why.” Fixation on “why” is enemy centered, victimizing, and negative. Focusing on “how” is success centered, empowering, and positive.
The culture of a “How Tribe” springs from, “How can our tribe help each member become better?” The How Tribe believes that regardless of circumstances each individual has the power to change one’s own situation. The tribe then focuses on how to equip its members for success. The “How Tribe” sees a mountain and focuses on how to scale it. Methods are discussed, skills are developed, and confidence and self-worth bloom with the fervor of a spring day.
In contrast, the culture of a “Why Tribe” dwells on, “Why am I being kept down?” The Why Tribe creates victims by blaming external forces for lack of success. This type of thinking disempowers members and usually results in creating a common enemy who is perceived to be responsible for perpetuating unfavorable conditions. A degree of comfort is achieved through shared misery, but little is ever accomplished in the Why Tribe. The tribe never moves beyond “why” to the life-changing “how.” It remains mired in the swamp of the tribal trap as it bitterly stares upward at the majestic mountain of success. The Why Tribe seems to be more interested in cursing the mountain rather than boldly scaling it.
Great leaders navigate around the tribal trap and take their tribe to previously unimaginable heights. Examine your tribe and make sure you’re a proud member of a How Tribe.