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Posts Tagged ‘tribes

3 Ways to Escape Your Tribe

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I love ya. I gotta go.

You’ve started to entertain the notion that keeping identity with your tribe makes less sense than ever before. And you wonder at your own sanity because the facts before you do not match the story your tribe keeps telling:

  • Maybe your tribe believes one person in your office has nothing good to say, but you think otherwise.
  • Maybe your tribe is willing to look the other way as the elected official—whom the tribe helped elect—continues to lie, goes against the sacred center of your tribe’s beliefs and behaves increasingly erratically.
  • Maybe your tribe shuts down alternate readings of your sacred text because those readings don’t suit the current ideological goals of the people calling the shots.manysigns-2-20170126

For these and any number of other reasons, it may be time to leave your tribe. But how? It’s tricky, because most of your friends and your family friends and friends of your friends are in the tribe. Maybe you spend all your time with these people. Maybe you live with these people. But here are three starting points:

  1. Check in with soul-friends. You know people who are like-minded and are driven less by ideology and more by relationship and caring. Find these folks and build trust with them. Spend time with them and share your concerns. Ask questions together and see if a new story emerges.
  2. Read and talk widely. Get different opinions from diverse people. Look for ways to read books that challenge the orthodoxy. The good news about challenge is that what is true remains while what is false slips away. But reading is best when you share points of interest with others—especially with those soul-friends. Look for opportunities to step outside your tribe: the person at work or in class who is clearly coming from a different perspective. Who knows where friendship and insight might come from? Actively seek others with questions, remember that you are not alone with your questions.
  3. Have Faith and Take Courage. Hold your core your beliefs firmly and ask questions of the periphery. This is the time-honored way of artists, writers, thinkers, activists and leaders. See where the questions lead—this is the way of sanity and art. Turning a blind eye to inconsistencies and discontinuities leads to a very bad place, a place where reality differs from tribal knowledge.

There is a way forward and you will find it.

Good luck and God-speed.


Image: Kirk Livingston

Building Content: Share Your Research—Even if Incomplete

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A few days ago I talked with a company about their research efforts into a growing subset of a particular business process. This firm’s business is all about helping other companies make personal connections with their customers. Over the years this company has built a strong reputation for their expertise even as they continue to grow and adapt. They already know the benefits of being perceived as experts. Now they seek to add to the already strong understanding of the tools, process and attitudes needed to help companies remain connected.

One of the new opportunities before all of us is to provide leadership around a topic and invite others to talk with us about that shared passion. Seth Godin talks about it in Tribes. This company I had been speaking with has already caught the bug for growing themselves and helping others along the way. But one of the things about research is a commitment to doing something new. By definition, research means you are answering questions and finding things out fresh. Naturally we want to apply our new understanding to the problems and opportunities before us. That means we might not get it just right all the time. We may make mistakes. And don’t mistakes force a slip in our perception as experts?

I’ve been arguing all through these articles that what we gain in authenticity more than makes up for momentary slips. Social media is about real time communication, so if we read our research at some future point and realize something happened that changed everything, we’ll understand that we knew what we knew when we knew it. “Now we see things differently,” we might say to ourselves at that future point. I’m arguing for grace. I’m also arguing we’ll understand the nature of social media in this way.

tawft book cover 10242009This topic has a personal application for me. I’m currently writing out a book-length project that develops a theology of communication. But I’m reluctant to chunk it out into a blog format because every part of the book changes as I move forward. What I thought was true in the first three chapters is actually changing as I write chapters four through six. I’m certain change will continue all the way to Chapter 12. Do I have the courage to make mistakes in public?

How do you approach sharing your research? I’d love to hear.


Please, Back Away from the Controller.

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It’s about interest, not control.

It’s about interest, not control.

It’s not like you can just adopt this new channel, buy space and you’re good to go.

It’s more like learning to be a friend again. I described the equivalent of “winning the lottery” in a dialogue-based medical device marketing context, but Seth Godin takes the next step with his Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us. Instead of focusing on the tools of social media we all find so interesting (or not), he posed the provocative question “Who is it we should be leading?” His question presupposes this inward-looking beginning point for any who care to begin dialogue: “What change am I passionate enough about to lead?”

I like that Godin helps me see that the coming dialogical world is much broader than today’s set of bloggy-twittery-searchable tools. The questions we ask when moving from monologue to dialogue have more to do with what we all care about together. Finding what we care about together is a necessary stop on the journey. And knowing what we care about together is a step beyond carefully controlling the conversation with fine-tuned messages.tribeimage-10062009

What we care about together as humans has always been different from the one-dimensional messages with which we’ve surrounded our product messages. The secret to dialogue is what we learned years ago when our first friend showed up that summer day: we look for common interests. We expect give and take, and a willingness to hear and try something new. Friendship is formed when we stop claiming to know all the answers. Inviting marketers to rethink friendship is a step toward dialogue and a step away from monologue. Inviting marketers to find their place of leadership within friendship and within dialogue is a step toward freeing them to be the leaders they secretly want to be. The tribe-formers we need them to be.


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