Build Your Personal Tribe

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As social creatures, human beings kept, and many still keep, to their ‘tribes’ for several benefits such as identity, protection, self-sufficiency and opportunity for growth. Overtime, trade, wars and politics have forced different levels of evolution to different tribal groups across the world. We are now living at a time we call the earth a ‘global village’. And this description is apt. We could be in one part of the world now and almost anywhere else within the next twenty four hours. Communication across the globe is almost instantaneous.

Environment, situations and circumstances change over time. Similarly, the challenges to groups and individuals continue to compound. The key components to success are however timeless. The demands on the intellectual, emotional and physical capabilities of the entrepreneur are enormous. Like the ethnic tribal groups, creating your ‘personal tribe’ will go along way in helping you succeed by offering physical, emotional, intellectual and social benefits. 

‘Personal tribe’: Your ‘personal tribe’ refers to a group of people that offer you informal support and guide in your pursuit of business and life objectives. Different members of your personal tribe could offer different support and guide in different spheres of your life. Your personal tribe are a group of people that have genuine desire for your growth and success. 

For our purposes here, your personal tribe is not a group of people necessarily from the same ethnic stock as you. Rather, it is group of people, even preferably, from different demographics, but with the requisite information, knowledge, skills and experiences that will make it possible for them to support and guide you as you and your businesses evolve and grow. What should be common in them is their sincere desire for your success. 

Features of a personal tribe:

  • They are an informal group around you,
  • They know, understand and trust you,
  • They identify with your vision, mission and values,
  • They know your business and life objectives,
  • They may not always agree with you but they will always be with you,
  • They are not a group of ‘yes’ men and women. They will always tell you the truth as they see it,
  • They are patient with you as you develop,
  • They are desirous of, and happy with your successes,
  • They keep your confidence and do not disclose your discussions to others,
  • Different members may play different roles in your life,
  • They strive to keep you aligned to your ‘core north’, etc.

Even as your personal and business circumstances change with time, at least a ‘core’ of your personal tribe will remain with you. Obviously, you will need to pick up a few more as replacements. No matter, the competence, integrity and desire for your success should be the determining factors in adopting anyone into this, ‘elite’, group.

Benefits of your tribe: Your tribe will offer you several benefits such as:

  • Providing alternative intellectual arguments, making it possible for you to see things holistically,
  • Serving as a moral compass in times of confusion,
  • Providing emotional support in difficult times,
  • Keeping your feet firmly to the ground in times of successes, etc.

Areas of intervention: Different members of your personal tribe can help and support you in different ways. You need to identify the areas of competence of each member and engage them appropriately.

  • Physical development: A member could be a person who understands the importance of your physical fitness to your ability to discharge your other responsibilities. He therefore joins and encourage you in regular exercises even when you don’t feel like going to the gym. The members of this circle help keep you physically fit.
  • Intellectual engagement: Some other brilliant person, who is able to offer constructive criticism about what you are doing or planning to do, can also be a member of your tribe. Such persons are able to make you see the risks of what you are doing as well as how you can mitigate them. Those of them out of your organisation can help you consider different business models, otherwise not suggested by your staff. They are key to keeping you intellectually alert at all times.
  • Emotional support: This can be provided by other tribe members who know your internal strengths, fears and apprehensions, and can detect when you want to ‘bite more than you can chew’. They offer a shoulder you can lean on in difficult times; encouraging and helping you see ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ you had always talked about! They are key to keeping emotionally stable.
  • Social engagement: You also need a few other people that can take you away from your demanding routine from time to time. You socialise with them and they accompany you to other social events and gatherings. They are key to your networking and de-stressing strategy.   

Composition of your tribe: Your personal tribe will typically include people drawn from various circles. These may include:

  • Family: Our families have the most stake in reaping the benefits or bearing the consequences of our successes and failures. It is therefore very important that they, at least in the nuclear sense, understand what we are trying to do and get their blessings and support. Our spouses are particularly important and must be carried along. Think of the most successful businessmen and politicians. From Warren Buffet to Richard Branson and Bill Clinton to Barack Obama, they all have spouses that have supported their effort. 
  • Colleagues at work: Amongst the people you work with, there will be at least a few, hopefully, who feel a personal need for your success over and above their call to duty. Such people will be candidates for your personal tribe. But selection must be diligent and thorough. Such people must also be technically competent in their respective functions.
  • Friends: Amongst our friends are always those who put extra interest in how well we are doing in our endeavours. Such friends who are sincere are very good candidates for our personal tribe. They are usually outside your immediate formal business circle and can offer intelligent second opinions that only people ‘out of the kitchen’ can. From such friends, select a very few for this role. 
  • Professionals: Professionals in other business circles and industry can also offer a varying view point from yours. This helps you understand other business and life dimensions that you may not have considered hitherto. In the course of your business life, you will pick up such people who are also desirous of your success having identified some superlative qualities in you. Choose from amongst them and engage them.
  • Seniors: We all have very senior professionals or businessmen around us who have ‘been there done that’. Adopting at least one of them as a mentor helps provide a reliable platform for advice, support and guidance.  Such a person will be like the informal ‘chairman’ of the tribe. They are normally the last contact we make on an issue having gotten information from other tribesmen and women before making a decision.

There is no ‘ideal number’ of ‘tribesmen and women’ one should keep. Really, it depends on your situation. At initial stages of your business life, you are likely to just start with a mentor. Over time, you will need to have a few of your colleagues in your business who share similar passions and values with you. As you grow further, you will see your family, professionals and a few friends coming into this close circle of yours. You have to make sense of what you need at each stage. Trust, competence, confidence, integrity, and their desire for your success should be your guiding principles in choosing members of this select group.

Overall, the composition of your tribe should be rounded, with different people from different genders, trainings and backgrounds as well as age and experience. This is very important. Nonetheless, you should take your time in building your personal tribe. How you are able to build and keep your tribe for decades will have a lot of bearing on your longterm success.

How do you attract and keep the right people? Building a personal tribe should be a very deliberate process. It takes time, observation and engagement. Shortlist a number of individuals that you think fit your requirements from within and outside your current circles. Sometimes, acquaintances can actually suggest other people we may not have considered on our own. Observe them for a reasonable time and start engaging them. With time, some will stick and others will falter, or you will drop them. Over a reasonable time, you will build a core group.

It is one thing to identify and engage the people that will compose of your tribe, and quite another to keep them. To keep your tribe loyal to you, 

  • Be yourself, genuine and personal always,
  • Integrity should be key in dealing with them,
  • Strive to develop by willing to learn,
  • Deliver results,
  • Accept your limitations and vulnerability even as you are determined to surmount them,
  • Dont allineate them when they don’t agree with you. There is wisdom in diversity of opinions,
  • Don’t hold them responsible when things do not go right on acting on their input. Remember, you are the decision maker and their roles are only advisory,
  • Communicate even when everything is right!
  • Be available by creating time for them,
  • Appreciate and be thankful for their inputs whether or not you get the desired results, etc.

Our next post will be on building your business tribe.

About Me

My name is Musbahu El Yakub. I am an entrepreneur, a consultant and an author. I desire to help, guide and support start-up and growing entrepreneurs. I try to do this by providing them with information, tools and guidance..

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