Recently, a friend told the story of an experience with a co-worker. Reflecting on a client meeting where both were present, my friend was told she needn’t attend any more client meetings, because she wasn’t speaking up and sharing ideas to get more sales from the client. The co-worker suggested my friend should go back to their former role, rather than provide the strategic input of their current job.
That experience was several years and two positions ago. Those words unknowingly shape my friend’s actions and responses. She hesitates when she could be making a big impact. Her ability to contribute is stymied by this unwise feedback.
Many of us have experienced someone who denigrated our capability at some point or another. If your qualifications have never been questioned, you’re not stretching enough! What do you do with this type of feedback? How can you ensure that you’re not derailed by this, both in the short term and the long term?
The tribe you associate with makes all the difference. Choosing those who speak into your life and work shapes your ability to make the biggest difference and to not get stuck in the negative feedback loop of self-sabotage.
What is a tribe?
A tribe is the group of people you surround yourself with. It’s a group you resonate with, who have similar beliefs and goals. They have similar experiences and aspirations, though they may be in very different fields or life stages. There is enough diversity to make it interesting and provide perspectives you may not ordinarily consider.
Warning: a tribe can become a clique. Guard against surrounding yourself with a small group of people who cannot think beyond their own interests and current understanding. Your tribe needs to be a safe place to explore and grow, not just a place to hole up and escape from the world.
Tribe vs. Co-workers
Did you notice who gave the negative feedback to my friend? It was a co-worker. That person may have witnessed a growing edge in my friend’s professional progression. It may have been true that she needed to speak up more in the client meeting. However, the way the message was delivered didn’t provide a path to growth. It squashed any path forward.
Your tribe is most likely going to be made up of people outside your work environment. It may be old co-workers, friends from professional or community organizations, people from your church and maybe one or two family members.
The difference between your tribe and your co-workers is the purpose of the relationship. Tribe members come together to support each other and grow together. Co-workers come together to provide a product or service in the marketplace. In positive situations, your co-workers can be your tribe, but don’t assume this is always the case.
Benefits of Choosing Your Tribe
There are several benefits to choosing your tribe intentionally.
- Impact – Members of your tribe have invested in you, so feedback from them comes from a safe place. You trust the source and hear the input differently. All input is valuable, but not all input e should be taken into our self and accepted as truth. We must discern the validity of feedback, especially from those outside our trusted circle. (This does not mean it’s not true, just that we must weigh it.)
- Imagine the difference it would have made for my friend if the person who denigrated her intentional, deliberate personality style would have found ways to tap her expertise, rather than try to “send her back where she came from”.
- Synergy/Collaboration – Walking together leads to greater impact. The gifts of different members of the group provide greater depth and insight.
- Growth – You grow through input from your tribe members, expanding your skills and understanding. Because this is a reciprocal relationship, you also help others grow into more of their capacity to make a difference.
- Freedom – with the safety of a supportive group, you are free to explore new opportunities, stretch in ways you might not have tried. This can lead to contributing at a higher level.
Within the safe space of your tribe, you can experiment and grow. You count on the members of your tribe for feedback on both your strengths and weaknesses, your opportunities and threats. Because you feel safe with them, you trust them to provide feedback that’s in your best interest.
It takes time and intentionality to find your tribe. Knowing yourself, investing yourself in others and being aware of those who you resonate with will show you who you want in your tribe. Choose wisely and you’ll find yourself going further than you ever thought possible.
Who’s in your tribe? Share with us in the comments.