There’s something about being in relationship with people that has the power to make or break us. Most of us are taught that by our parents and teachers at a very young age. Illustrations in which one person stands on a chair or a platform and another stands on the ground while each pulls at the others arms proves that it’s easier to drag someone down than to pull them up, because the person on the floor always succeeds over the one in the chair. The visual demonstrates that if we hang out with the wrong crowd we’ll get dragged down, we won’t lift the others up. And, for the most part, this is true.
Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. Prov 13:20
But there’s really much more to relationships than that. Sure, there are good influences and bad influences, but above all that, there are people who are in a position to truly make a difference in our lives and us in theirs. If we want to see growth, if we want to expand our minds and our horizons, if we want to give and be vulnerable, if we want to receive wisdom, we’ve got to surround ourselves with the right people. We’ve got to get ourselves a tribe.
There’s a difference in a tribe and your friend group. Friends are awesome. They’re great for hanging out with and having a good time. The good ones will even be there with you through life’s tougher moments. One or two may last a lifetime, but most friends come and go. A tribe, on the other hand, holds you to a higher level of accountability. It’s a covenant type relationship. It’s built on mutual trust and love, on lifting and holding one another up. These are the people that propel you to a whole new level in life. When you’re around your tribe, you’ll notice your dreams are being realized, and your life is advancing beyond the normal pace. Friends are fun; your tribe is transformative.
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Prov 27:17
So who exactly do you need in your tribe? What makes a good tribe? There’s no formula. It’s not about making sure you’ve got one of each personality type in your group. It’s about surrounding yourself with people that are all in. You need people that are moving the same direction as you. You need people who aren’t just yes men or naysayers. You need people with enough maturity to listen and to be honest. You need people who know how to give and receive advice and encouragement. You need real, raw, people who are ready to take on life, who are past the pretenses. You need other people who are looking for a tribe.
But first and foremost, you need yourself. And you need to decide if you’re ready for this type of relationship. Are you ready to get down and dirty. Are you ready to bear all? Are you ready to be vulnerable, to hear the things you don’t necessarily want to hear? Are you ready to be pushed to do the things you need to do to get to where you want to be? Because as soon as you become the kind of person you want in your tribe, you’ll attract the same kind of people.
Here’s a quick checklist of the qualities that make a good tribe member. But don’t start by looking around to see who measures up. Look inside yourself. Discover the areas you want to grow in, and start there.
- Vulnerability – The most important can often be the most difficult. But to truly create a relationship in which everyone can grow and flourish, we must fist bare our true selves. Set aside the defenses, set aside the facades and the labels, set aside the fear, and open up our most genuine self. This means being completely honest about what’s going on in life and saying what’s on our hearts and minds even when we think it sounds crazy. Vulnerability is the start to genuine relationship, the kind of relationship that propels you forward.
- Trust – Trust goes hand in hand with vulnerability. In order to be vulnerable, we must learn to trust those around us. Trust that the people who are in our tribe believe in us and want the best for us. And be trustworthy. Trust is a two way street. For it to benefit us, we must learn both to trust others and to be trustworthy ourselves.
- Wisdom – In order to be effective, tribe members must use wisdom. The point of a tribe is not to gossip or simply listen to one another’s troubles and move on. A tribe is there to offer guidance, and guidance is best offered in wisdom rather than emotion. Wisdom is the combination of experience, knowledge, and good judgement in action. I wise tribe is the best tribe. Wisdom is the key ingredient in personal progress.
- Vision – A tribe doesn’t just help us out where we are, they help us get to where we want to be. When we put our dreams on the table, our tribe members help stir us up further to make the dream a reality. Vision takes ideas and sees the steps to make them a reality. It is vision that drives us to the next level. A good tribe member doesn’t just offer up vision for their own dreams, they also offer up vision for the other members. When everyone combines their vision, dreams are realized, and the group as a whole takes leaps forward together.
- Supportiveness – The baseline of a successful tribe is support. When all members of a tribe offer one another full support, no member can fail. On the bad days, there is someone to lift us up. On our best days, there is someone cheering us on. Mutual supportiveness in a tribe means that, ultimately, each member of the tribe only moves forward; no one ever moves backwards, because the others are always there to catch us. It is the support of the group that prevents burnout, that encourages us, that inspires us to try new things, and that provides a safety net for each of us to be ourselves completely. And from that place, we all move forward tremendously both individually and together.
Check back here next week for Part 2 of Get Yourself a Tribe where we’ll talk about the why behind the tribe!
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