What is a Tribe? (And Why You Need to Find Yours)

March 28, 2014 Spencer Thompson

Don’t you ever regret knowing someone in your life. Good people will give you happiness, bad people will give you experience, while the worst people will give you a lesson, and the best people will give you memories.

When it comes to picking a career, we all know that the first couple of months (or years) will be a learning process. Whether you want to become an athlete, musician, artist, entrepreneur, electrician, culinary chef, therapist, etc… the learning curve is steep when you’re new. This is natural of course. Usually the first step that experts will recommend is for you to find a mentor in your field because you can learn from their mistakes and they can help you out along the way. This is great advice, and you should definitely try to do this. But there is a second item that most people don’t really talk about. The most powerful thing that we can develop while in a career are the relationships that we make.

I’m not talking about networking where you go around and give people your business card. I’m talking about finding a core set of individuals that share your values and drive. People that know what you are going through, day after day. Have you ever watched So You Think You Can Dance? All of those dancers are trying to become the best dancer in America, but the relationships they make with the other competitors are is where the real value comes from. All of those people have the same level of drive, the same purpose and the same work ethic. The show has built in a like-minded network.

A lot of people have coined the phrase “tribe” for a set of like-minded individuals. It makes sense due to the companionship you build within your network. In order to understand how someone can find their passion through companionship, take this an example: Let’s say you are an inherently shy person. You don’t really like public speaking or being the life of the party. But you have always loved the world of acting and movies. In your head, there is no way that you can ever become an actor, because you are terrified of speaking in front of other people. So you decide to major in journalism at university. Becoming a writer in the movie industry is your dream. During university, you decide to work for a company producing commercials to get some experience in the industry. Instead of just writing, though, you find these actors fascinating. They speak the same language as you, laugh at the same jokes and know all the same people as you. You suddenly begin to discover yourself among these people. You have found a set of people who see the world in the same way that you do. Due to this exposure, you decide to not become a writer, but rather, an actor. This is your passion, and you have discovered it through finding your tribe.

The path I just described is actually the path that Meg Ryan took to becoming an actor. It’s pretty interesting to go back and see the influence that certain people have on others. How many of you have seen The Social Network? While a lot of it is made up, Sean Parker did have a tremendous influence on Mark Zuckerberg. They found a like-minded partner in each other, which led to Sean becoming the initial President of Facebook. It is at every level. Sports teams are a collection of like-minded individuals that are working towards the same goal. They see the world in the same way. An orchestra is the same thing.

Many people feel lost until they have found their tribe. Some people never find their tribe. Some people find a tribe that they fit into, but are not necessarily the best influence on them. Drug gangs and terrorist groups are also example of tribes, just on the opposite end of the scale. But for the most part, finding your tribe is one of the most important things you can do. That’s why university is so good for so many people. The education aspect aside, the social element of university is where people get the most amount of value. They go in rarely having a clue of what kind of person they are, and come out with a set of friends that share the same ideals as themselves.

Keep in mind, tribe members can be collaborators or competitors. They can share the same vision or have a completely different one. They can be the same age as you, or from a different generation. What connects a tribe is a common commitment to the thing they feel born to do. This can extremely liberating, especially if you’ve been pursuing your passion alone. Finding the right tribe can be essential to finding your passion in life and translating that into a career.



About the Author

Spencer Thompson

Spencer Thompson is the founder and ceo of Sokanu. His mission is to help every person on the planet understand what makes them tick. He has spoken at Microsoft, SAP, and TiE, and sits on the board of VEF Momentum and other education startups. He is deeply interested in neuroscience, economics, culture, and design.

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