Mind Your Tribe: Examining Your Social World

Jim Rohn said, "You are the average of the 5 people you spend most of your time with."

Amy Poehler said, "Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them – it will change your life.

Rumi said, "Set your life on fire. Find people who will fan your flames."

That's quite a pattern. The "Show me who your friends are" sentiment is a universal and age-old standby for a good reason.

The modern concept of the "tribe" is no new discovery, though the buzzphrase has lately found its renaissance. But the tribe isn't quite the simple "gaggle of friends" people make it out to be. It's not the people that you most hang out with or the people with whom you share a beer. Your tribe is about curating the best of the best — people who will support you and understand where you're headed. It could be as specific as people in the same industry as you or as general as people who share a passion for the same hobbies.

Whatever the theme of your personal tribe, you've got to pick the right people. I'd like to pause here — I don't mean to imply that you push friends away in favor of people who are supportive of your dreams. Sometimes, good friends don't fit into the tribe mold simply because you've got different goals.

Maybe they share your sense of humor or love of coffee but the passion-specific details don't quite line up with yours. That doesn't mean you have to eschew them in favor of people who are better suited to support you (that's just crazy!)

What it does mean is that you have an opportunity to build a separate network of people that are in line with your dreams and goals. People who can hold you accountable for your aspirations and comrades who will kick your ass when you're slacking.

The tribe is more than just a group that gets together. It's made up of individual parts — ones that are each strong on their own but create a support net when they work together.

If you feel like you're not being supported or just can't get things done with your current social group, maybe it's time to build a tribe you can go to when you need support or help with your goals. Here are a few tricks to analyze and rebuild a stronger network of fellow go-getters.

Rethinking and Rebuilding Relationships

Analyze your tribe

Analyze those in your circle of friends/circle of influence. Consider the following question: are you in a relationship of mutual success? Are they contributing to your success and are you contributing to theirs?

People can bring you joy without directly contributing to your success, so this is a tricky question. But the rule of thumb is: if they ain't a good friend and they ain't supporting you, chances are you won't miss 'em. Don't hang onto relationships "just because."

It can end up sapping your energy to spread yourself too thin amongst a large network of people you "should" talk to instead of a tighter-knit community of people who energize you.

Invest Your Time

Invest your time in building these strong relationship and solidifying them as much as possible. This is a particulary hard step as it never actually ends. And you shouldn't want the process to end. Meaningful relationships constantly evolve in win/win ways.

People are like gardens — beautiful, complex, and desperate for maintenance. Never be shy about reaching out to someone you haven't spoken to in a while. If you work well together, it's better to keep in touch and nourish the connection to keep your network strong.

As long as you're being positive and giving as much support as you're getting, you're contributing. So all you have to do is be there and you're doing it right.

Identify the negativity

There's inevitably some cold-spots in your circle of friends. People that you either never meshed with in the beginning or have stopped relating to over time.

Think about people or situations that drain you. Never blame the people! Resentment builds into anger, and that gets us nowhere, so be mindful of your perspective on the situation.

If people have a negative or energy-sapping effect on you, consider rethinking your tribe. It's not about being a cold-hearted son of a gun and dropping certain people altogether — it's about re-evaluating and spending time with people who provide more joy.

Like I said, situations and settings can also have an effect on you. Maybe you don't work well in large groups or in certain settings. If it's not conducive to your happiness, you're allowed to avoid it to a certain degree. I'm all about escaping your comfort zone, but that doesn't mean you have to enjoy everything. Don't let the fear of a certain situation override you, but be sure you're not forcing yourself to do something that you know makes you miserable.

Spend time with good people

What is your definition of a good person? This is a personal and subjective thing, so be sure to give yourself the details. Could you say that you surround yourself with people you consider good?

Start going through your current list of friends and acquaintances and consider which ones line up with your definition and which ones just don't blend in. This is not about judging people for being "bad" or "not good." You're simply seeing who lines up with your personal definitions and making decisions about using your time.

There's a lot more involved in making a tribe, of course. People are unique and complex, and everyone can bring something to the table. I would never recommend outright avoiding people simply because you don't "like" them. Be kind and open-minded and you'd be surprised what others can teach you. But when it comes to your tribe and who you choose to spend time with, give yourself control and agency.

You're allowed to make choices that improve your life — imagine that!

Thanks for reading!

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