Tribal Rule is alive and well.
I feel confident saying that you would have experienced it in some form or another over the course of the last day, week or month.
Tribes fascinate me and I am always curious to know what tribes people belong to.
“What?” I hear you say, “a tribe? I don’t belong to a tribe, are you kidding me?”.
No, I am not! And yes you are a fully-fledged, card-carrying member of many tribes – even if you don’t know it.
Tribes today come in many forms – families, friendship groups, sporting teams, corporate entities, sex, race, religious and spiritual groups, ethnic groups, professions and so on. Basically, a tribe is any group of people who are connected to each other and have a set of rules and beliefs in how things “should” be.
Without even knowing it, you have been participating in your tribes and adding value to them, as well as enforcing the rules of the group.
The thing about tribes that is particularly interesting is that there has to be some judgement: you’re either in or you are out. You are following the rules the tribe believe in and if you are not, then you are most probably living with some discomfort. The tribe will (eventually) evict you because you aren’t toe-ing the line, making a change or fitting in. If you don’t then it will make life uncomfortable so that you want to leave and find a new tribe anyway.
Here are some examples:
The Vegan Tribe says it’s wrong to eat animal products.
The Environmentalist Tribe say that if we don’t change, the planet will die.
The Catholic Tribe says no sex before marriage.
The Australian Tribe is not very welcoming of refugees.
The American Tribe says they have a right to carry guns regardless of the deaths they cause.
The Apple Tribe believes that their products are superior to any other brand.
The Police Tribe says you must follow the speed limit.
Don’t get me wrong: tribes have many advantages. In fact, the human spirit requires connection and to be a part of something bigger than itself. This is still hardwired into us from our caveman days – we long to belong.
Tribes create social order, promote connection and community, and most importantly, they are good for your health!
A Harvard University study examined the lives of almost 3,000 people and found that those who gather together to go out for dinner, play cards, go on day trips, holiday with friends, go to the movies, attend sporting events, go to church, or engage in other social activities outlive their reclusive and more disconnected peers by an average of two-and-a-half years. Being part of a tribe is not only fun but it can also extend your life.
Plus, how much easier is it to get things done working as a group rather than attempting to do it all alone? I think of the Amish Community building barns together, and the local church down the road from me who holds a yearly busy bee to tidy up the neighbourhood streets. What about Christmas time where each tribe member brings something to the table to share?
Like most things in life, there is a light component and a dark component. We all want to feel included, to belong, to be a part of something, and yes, our tribes give us that. It’s about being with like-minded people who understand you and your language and who support your ideas and beliefs.
Just beware, however, that the tribe will speak when you are not “toe-ing the tribal line”. My dad started a new relationship very quickly after my mum passed away and his friendship tribe was MOST put out! They had a set of rules around how grief should be done and clearly my dad was not doing it the right way.
I had to field a barrage of calls from his social circle, all expressing their unhappiness around his actions. In the end I told them to stop calling. I didn’t care what the Friendship Tribe thought (nor did my dad, mind you), I just cared about what was best for my father and his partner.
In one of my coaching sessions this week my client was telling me about how her new partner (whom she completely adores!) is from a different religious denomination and that her family is extremely unhappy with her. It started as a gentle rumble but has now escalated into a deep roar. They have asked her to make a choice: him or us.
The Tribe has spoken…