The Pursuit of Life

Menu Close

Live With Intention | Building Your Tribe

Rendezvous Island, British Columbia

I love the idea of building a tribe and collecting people consciously and intentionally. One of the most important life decisions that we can make is who we choose to surround ourselves with.  Several weeks back we spent some time with new friends at their amazing home on a tiny island off the coast of British Columbia.  We were having lots of inspiring and insightful life discussions, my favorite kind of chat, and a few times they mentioned the idea of collecting people along the journey of life.  They sort of rephrased it and said – well not collecting people, as if that somehow sounded strange.  And I thought – what’s wrong with collecting people?  I love it.  It is one of the infinite reasons that traveling is my absolute favorite thing to do.  I collect people I meet when I travel as some people like to collect t-shirts from the places that they visit. It is vitally important to be thoughtful and intentional about collecting the people that you include in your tribe – so how do you do it?  Here are 5 types of people who should be in your tribe.

1.  Those Who Will Lift You Higher

The purposeful Oprah Winfrey said:  Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher. This is one of my favorite pieces of advice and something that we should all put into more practice.  We are all equal to the sum of our various parts, and a big piece of the equation is the people whom we allow to share our lives.

The person that you decide to co-life with as a partner, spouse, husband, wife is one of the most important life decisions that any of us will make. Sheryl Sandberg said in Lean In “…the single most important career decision that a woman makes is whether she will have a life partner and who that partner is.”  I couldn’t agree more.  But it is also important to surround yourself with friends, colleagues, mentors, and business partners who will lift you up, support you, challenge you and most importantly inspire you to strive to be a better person.  The world is full of aphorisms, quotes and proverbs that say we are the company that we keep.  Therefore we must keep company with those people who reflect who we want to be, how we want to feel, what we want to accomplish, and those who make us proud to be a part of their lives.

2.  Those Who Are Family, And Not Just the Biological Kind.

Not all family belongs in your tribe.  This is a difficult one for many people.  Blood ties are supposed to be rock solid; your biological family members are supposed to be those who support you and will be there for you no matter what.  But that isn’t always the case, and it is both important and okay to acknowledge it.  We’ve got to set our expectations around the way that people behave and who they truly are, and it’s okay to adjust expectations when people let us down.  Just because someone shares some of our ancestral history doesn’t mean they are cut from the same cloth that we are and doesn’t mean they belong in our collections.  When we are blessed with DNA-sharing family members who lift us higher, have common interests with us and have our best interests at heart, we are blessed indeed.  And if we aren’t so blessed, we make our own family, unrelated DNA notwithstanding.

3.  Those With Common Interests.

It is essential to surround ourselves with people with whom we share common interests.  An important change when we become adults is that we actually choose our friends because they have a lot in common with us rather than choosing friends based on convenience, proximity or circumstance.  In grade school, we choose our friends based on who was in our class, or on our soccer team, or who lived in our neighborhood.  In college, friends were often those people in our social clubs, dorms, fraternities or other campus organizations.  But when we’ve graduated beyond these formative years, we start to choose our friends based on what we have in common with them, rather than simple proximity to our everyday life. And this makes our relationships deeper and more meaningful.

4.  Those With Whom We Have Shared Experiences.

Shared experiences can forge bonds that last through time, distance, hardships and absences.  Getting to know and forming relationships with those people who have been there in some of  your favorite, most challenging, life-changing or devastating experiences is an important part of building your tribe.  Those relationships can be some of the most worthwhile that you will have.  After all, we can’t expect all of our friends, family or colleagues to be able to relate to every aspect of our lives.  Sometimes we need to turn to those people who have actually gone through a similar experience, been there for the joy or pain, excitement or sadness.

Some of my favorites among my collection of people are those that I’ve met on travels and kept in touch with via email or social media.  There was the Brazilian couple that we met on our last day of hiking the W Trek in Torres Del Paine, Chile – sharing a bottle (or two!) of red wine after an intense 6 day hike through the Patagonian wilderness, chatting about interests that we share like social businesses and eco-tourism.  Or there is the South African couple we summited Kilimanjaro with several years ago – again, bonding over an excruciating and triumphant trek and a real bucket list activity.  I love our new friends from British Columbia who have traveled the world, followed their passions, created their own idea of what it means to live with intention … and become my heroes in the meantime.  And sometimes I think that nobody will truly get me quite like my college besties, who have literally watched  me grow into the woman that I am today, and who love and respect me despite my flaws (especially those college aged flaws!).

5.  Those Who Inspire Us.

We must also surround ourselves with people who inspire us.  People who motivate us to better ourselves, to strive for our goals and continue to reinvent ourselves.  It is crucial to have a tribe of interesting, varied, loyal people who will challenge us.  Who aren’t afraid to be honest and sincere.  And who will be a positive force for change in our lives.  Some of my favorite tribe members are those I’ve worked with, who have interesting and rewarding careers that fulfill them in ways that I aspire to be fulfilled.  They are willing to invest the time to mentor me and teach me and challenge me to dig deep within myself to discover what are my purposes in life.  They are invaluable members of my tribe.

What is most important is that collecting our people and building our tribes are voluntary and intentional acts.  Recognizing that we are infinitely influenced by those around us and that is is vital to think about who we are spending our time with, who we are modeling our behavior after and who we are allowing to imprint upon us and often change the course of our lives.  When I think about my tribe, I am humbled by the friends and family, colleagues and mentors that I have collected along the way.  They are some of the funniest, smartest, hardest working, most inspirational and quirkiest people that I’ve ever met.  They encourage me to continue to evolve, to live the life that I have imagined and broaden my perspectives, to pursue my dreams and to have fun along the way.

Remember though, that inevitably we will change the people who make up our tribes.  Not everyone that comes into our lives is meant to be with us forever.  Our collections should be dynamic.  They should change as we continue to evolve as individuals because our tribes are a reflection of who we are and who we long to become.

BY Jackie
BLOGGED FROM Bozeman, Montana