It is easier to defer and deflect to others’ shortcomings or failures than to deal with our own. We often defend our attitudes or perspectives based on what we do/don’t do and how we’re different from others to justify our behaviours and beliefs. When this attitude has fully matured, it can become something that causes us to join, or create our own Tribe. Tribes can take the form of social, political, sports, business or religious groups to name a few. Tribes can be a powerful and positive resource group including friends, colleagues and others that share our viewpoint, or at worst, they can isolate us from others.
Social Psychologist, Henri Tajfel, introduced the concept of Social Identity Theory in the 1970’s as a way to describe how we gravitate to other like-minded individuals that share our beliefs, values, social status, financial successes, etc. The modern version of these could be described as tribes. Seth Godin has a great TEDTALK that defines this – click here to watch it. In his book Tribes, Seth Godin encourages us to ask: “How can you unite people within your realm of influence to become a part of your tribe so that you can utilize the power of a team to make amazing things happen?”
Human nature is such that we tend to associate with those most like us because it’s comfortable and easier to function since everyone knows the implicit, or stated, rules and terms of engagement. The inherent risk in this is that we miss opportunities to connect and interact with those different from us who may be able to provide valuable perspective and insights. At worst, when we insulate ourselves, we can come across as being elite, unapproachable or viewed as snobs.
Walking your talk and living your values and beliefs is important; it frames your thinking and actions and lets others know what to expect from you and how to interact. If the basis of your behaviours are generally accepted as the norm, and are founded on the basis of societal ethics and values, it is relatively easy to get along with others. People will accept your idiosyncrasies and even moments of weirdness if they know you are solid for the most part. However, if you find yourself, because of your outlook and attitudes, to be increasingly isolated or even avoided, it may be time for some serious self-reflection and changes.
If you find walking your talk is resulting in you walking alone, it may time to reassess what you are saying.
“A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.” ~ Seth Godin, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us