A Group of Like-Minded People

Published by Thriving Erin on

What I learned about leadership from reading “Tribes” by Seth Godin

 

“Human beings can’t help it: we need to belong. One of the most powerful of our survival mechanisms is to be part of a tribe, to contribute to (and take from) a group of like-minded people.”

Seth Godin

 

When I first read this statement, I instinctively agreed. Of course we want to belong, even those who rebel and reject mainstream norms often come together and create new norms where they can belong. Why does the image of a child sitting alone in the lunchroom evoke such sympathy from us? Because it means they don’t belong and as adults, we understand the devastation it can wreak on your life if you don’t find a place to belong. But looking at the above statement, even though I instinctively agree, I didn’t fully understand all of it. I understand belonging, but what is a tribe?

 

Seth Godin defines a tribe as, “a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea.” So this isn’t just a random group of people, the aspects of a leader and an idea speak to intentionality, so a tribe is something we’re invited into and something we choose to join.

 

Tribes can exist anywhere. They can exist in the workplace, in schools, neighbourhoods, clubs, or even online. They are everywhere, and they all need leaders. They don’t need leaders who are well-educated, good-looking, rich, or experienced, they need leaders who are committed. Leaders who care about the ideas, about creating change, and about motivating those following them to create change.

 

This isn’t about management. It’s not directing people to do established tasks with measured resources, it’s about creating change that you, and everyone in the tribe, believes in.

 

Recently, I joined a tribe that I’ll call the Choose FI tribe. It’s a subset of the FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) movement and was created when two guys named Brad and Jonathan decided to start a podcast and called it ChooseFI. The podcast has thousands of followers and their closed Facebook group has almost 40,000 members. The thing is, this tribe isn’t just a group of people who listen to a podcast. It’s a tribe of people who have been inspired to take action. There are multiple posts an hour on the facebook homepage and a typical post will get over 100 comments. Group members are asking questions and getting educated and well-informed answers. People are sharing their experiences and cheering each other on.

 

 

Brad and Jonathan are not experts, but they share their personal experiences, and bring experts on the show. They’re humble, keen to learn, open to change, and above all, they’re committed. They’re not trying to lead the entire world, they are choosing to lead the people who have chosen to follow them. The rest of the world is free to ignore them, this information isn’t for them, it’s for the tribe.

 

I didn’t join this tribe because Brad and Jonathan are amazing speakers (though I do enjoy the podcast), I joined because they are fully committed, they live with hope and optimism, but match it with a clear and real vision for the future, and then, they’re committed to showing us the actual way to get there.

 

This is what leading a tribe is about. As Seth Godin writes, “If no one cares, then you have no tribe. If you don’t care – really and deeply – then you can’t possibly lead.”

 

What do you care about? What are you committed to?

 

Are people waiting for you to lead them?

 

 


3 Comments

Rachel · April 2, 2019 at 1:22 pm

Hi Erin,

Thanks for this. I haven’t read Tribes yet, although I’ve read some of Seth’s articles where he talks about tribes. I really enjoyed this article. Two lines in particular jumped out at me:

“They’re humble, keen to learn, open to change, and above all, they’re committed.”

Yes! So often, we think it has to be polished. Or that people have all the answers. Or ‘why would people listen to me?’ But as you’ve summed up, if we go into things with good intentions, are open and willing to learn and support others, then people will take inspiration and leadership from that.

ChooseFI sounds like an amazing community!

“They’re not trying to lead the entire world, they are choosing to lead the people who have chosen to follow them. The rest of the world is free to ignore them, this information isn’t for them, it’s for the tribe.”

We often forget this too. Not everything is for us. And we can’t be for everyone. There are many different flavours of icecream. We don’t all have to pick the same one.

Angus · April 1, 2019 at 5:57 am

Hi Erin. I haven’t yet read Tribes — it’s on the list. (The list is long.) Like you, my first thought is yes of course. We don’t want to be the kid on their own in the lunch room. But then there’s a bit of hesitation (though I have just signed up to ChooseFI — my partner’s been following the Mad Fientist et al for a while, so we’re probably in that tribe already). Still, though, I hesitate. How can we be part of a tribe without drinking the coolaid? One of the things I bridle at in the things that feel like tribes are when the guru — call him Seth — gets invoked as a way to close things down. How do we stop tribes becoming cliques? How do we make sure the tribe stays open? More than this, too, I worry, a bit egghead-y, about accountability. Tribalism is on the ride — little Brexitlanders are everywhere, though thankfully not as evident in London — and it’s ugly. How do we keep people connected to the world beyond the tribe? I guess I’m going to have to read the book.

Kelli Mohr · March 30, 2019 at 5:09 pm

It’s like that old saying, if you’re trying to create art for everyone, then you’ll reach no one… or something along those lines. Tribes a niche groups marching toward a common goal or belief. I think you hit the point clearly with a tribe is “a group of people who have been inspired to take action.” You gave me chills.

I think we’ve been seeing a lot of this lately, for instance, the women’s march. But there’s also the flip side where tribe is becoming commercialized and overused like “bride tribe.” I guess the inspired action there is to get one married.

I’m curious what steps you’d take if you cared truly and deeply about something but the world does not care… yet. Do you march on alone, or give up?

Thanks for sharing the Podcast, I’m definitely checking that out!

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