Finding my Theme, again. Part 3 – find your tribe
- For as long as I can remember I’ve felt that something is exciting at the intersection of _______ and _______
- I sincerely believe that the world needs _______
- Never in history has there been a better time for _______
- My whole life I’ve been fascinated by what happens when you mix _______ and _______
So I did this once before, it’s an exercise from the book “Entrepreneur Revolution” by Daniel Priestley. The idea is that you can use the four questions to try and find what your theme or passion is in your life.
Last year my business was crushed under by the global pandemic of COVID, leaving me with nothing but debts and angry creditors who once were friends. In contrast, I am lucky enough to have some work. I am taking this time to find out where I want to be before starting again.
So here is part 3 of 4, trying to answer the questions above and maybe from there, I’ll move onto a plan and finally a business venture.
Never in history has there been a better time for finding or creating your tribe.
The first time I heard about the context of modern tribes was back in 2009 (holy crap where did 12 years go) when Seth Godin gave his TED talk on the subject. It’s such a great talk I’ll link it here so you can watch it now.
It’s a remarkably uplifting talk showing how many businesses are interested in tackling problems that will raise the standard of living, education, and the human condition to greater heights. Also, as it clearly says in yellow, it’s about Tribes. We all have, or at least want to have a tribe. A place where we belong and those around us support and reaffirm our place in the world. As he states in the talk above:
The Internet was supposed to homogenize everyone by connecting us all. Instead what it’s allowed is silos of interest. So you’ve got the red-hat ladies over here. You’ve got the red-hat triathletes over there. You’ve got the organized armies over here. You’ve got the disorganized rebels over here. You’ve got people in white hats making food. And people in white hats sailing boats. The point is that you can find Ukrainian folk dancers and connect with them because you want to be connected. That people on the fringes can find each other, connect and go somewhere.Seth Godin: The tribes we lead TED
Of course, this has a dark side, a glance at the Qanon community, anti-vaccine sentiment, and far right groups also can find each other and feed each other to fuel their hate. The exact force for good envisioned by Godin here is equally good at creating silos of extremism. With humans at the whim of such effects as cognitive-dissonance 1, Dunning-Kreuger 2 and confirmation bias 3 the Internet is a place where our inner prejudices can be refined and sharpened as easily as our values and humanity.
However, despite the risks, finding your tribe has a lot of benefits, if you’re surrounded by optimistic, forward-thinking people, you tend to take on that mindset. If you have regular discussions with others about ways to improve the world around you and how things have improved that can be a real boost. If you cannot find people already in groups that share your ideas and goals, then the internet has made it an incredibly simple task to reach out to them. If your Tribe has a bonding goal whether it is running a better company or building mars colonies there is no harm in seeking out that group and leaving if it’s not for you.
Side note: Not all your Tribe will agree
While it would be great if you could find a group of ideal people to talk with you need to be prepared to understand that not everyone will share your point of view. In any group, you’ll have conspiracy theorists, crackpots, and trolls, who won’t follow your line. As Seth says about the schism in the Balloon Animal community. Don’t expect any group over the size of 1 to agree on all points. Even if everyone in a group is in agreement that GMOs are good, or that God doesn’t exist, that doesn’t mean you won’t have racists, homophobes, and bigots as well.
People are more nuanced than their tribe and even if everyone agrees on a broad topic “let’s save the planet” you’ll have a million different ideas on how to do that. So in light of all that, what do we do with the tribes we are building?
Making tribes, not tribalism
One of the greatest threats to the progress of humanity is one of its greatest strengths. We seek out a tribe but then we get caught in an “Us vs Them” mindset. We see it clearest in politics these days, where we vilify and demonize our “enemy” or hero-worship our “spokesperson” to the point where the group cannot accept anything said by the other as true or right. We dig deeper and trenches and then refuse to notice or consider them. These chasms of understanding are not always rational, many are based on prior convictions or worse outright manipulations by fundamentalists in any given tribe. If you feel that you don’t have any preconvictions or prejudices, I have some bad news for you, it’s almost impossible as a human being to not have them. It takes considerable effort to take a step back from something and really consider it, particularly if you have a long-standing belief to the contrary.
So while I deeply believe that we can all find our tribe out there I worry that without an accompanying caution of our nature and a study of critical personal reflection we may cause as many problems as we solve.