A few years ago, when Twitter was new and addicting, a tweet popped up that caught my eye. It asked, “If you were standing in front of your tribe, what would you say?” I immediately imagined myself standing in front of my Jewish ancestors. They stared at me blankly. Finally I said, “I am really, really sorry, but I don’t like Temple and I thoroughly enjoy pork.”
But the novel and intended meaning of the word tribe revealed itself quickly enough, and I understood that instead of “a group of people linked by social, economic, religious and familial ties,” it meant a group of people Linked In to your blog, Twitter account and Facebook page. Your tribe is made up of those who follow you online and learn from what you espouse. Your tribe wants to hear what you have to say, and you are its leader.
I thought about my virtual tribe, unsure if I could accurately coin those dear folks who follow me, and who have read, liked, commented on, or retweeted something I have posted as “my tribe.” I understand the leadership and economic advantages of having a tribe: but the concept of being at the helm of a movement unnerves me.
For example, I there is a tribe I would call my local community, a strong network of amazing people with whom I share concerns about the wellbeing of each other, our land, and the economic sustainability of the region. When a beloved local business recently went through a rough patch, we all chipped in to keep them going.
Then there is my online community; some of which I have met in person, and others I likely never will, but we support each other and share daily updates, successes and tragedies just the same. I love that social media allows for the connection of like minds across county lines and continents, beyond race and religion.
And then there is my heart community; a tight-knit circle of family and family-like friends, including the beloved man I live with and our dog. We show up for each other. We play hard. We love deeply. We occasionally fight. Some members of this tribe come and go. Modern life, locale, vocation and children are always factors bringing us closer or farther apart. We do our best to stay in touch through these passages.
And finally, there is my soul community; made up of my clients, students, and my dear, dear teachers, without whom I would not exist, and I say that without exaggeration. My soul community brings out the best of my being, the best I have to offer this world. It teaches me how to be, and demands that I become, a better teacher, trainer, writer. My clients especially evoke deep respect in me as I witness them flow from the lighthearted chitchat at the top of a session, into the deep work of self-discovery. Their level of commitment to transformation is awe-inspiring, and I marvel at watching their relationships, their workplaces and their very being, take new shape.
I cannot put into words my gratitude for each one of my communities, or tribes.
Big or small, online or off, business building or not at all, it does feels good to have some tribes. And I didn’t always have them.
What are the circles of connection in your world? Share, if you care to, below.
And if at first you don’t succeed, tribe, tribe again.