It’s hard to say sometimes … who we really are, I mean. It’s hard to say, because I doubt we will ever really know. All of us can empathize with how it feels to be yourself one moment and then the next, have no idea. Some mornings we wake up and want steamy cup of black coffee, and others we kick ourselves for not buying International Delight. Some days we’re runners, others we’re couch potatoes. You see, even when we start to figure ourselves out, we can’t. Our tastes, likes and dislikes are changing all the time. This is irritating to me. Not because I’m frustrated with people’s fickle nature, but because I would really like to understand myself. To have myself completely figured out. But that won’t happen. Why? Tribes.
A group of people with shared interest and an original form of communication. If you’re one of those people who has always bragged and gone on and on about how you’re part Cherokee Indian and that’s why you’ve got such a tan complexion, you’re not who I’m talking about when I speak about tribes. If you’re one of those people who has never really felt like they belong anywhere, never fit in with a specific type of people group, or has rarely felt like they were in the right place (i.e where you live, where you work, who you date) you are exactly who I’m talking about when I say “tribe.”
Longing to be apart of a tribe is something all of us have experienced. If you’re rebellious and hard-headed like me, you’re probably having a really hard time biting your tongue right now while you read this. You’re probably trying to force yourself to believe that you’ve never wanted to “fit in” and join a tribe. But face it, you have. Why am I so certain? Because it’s impossible for any human being to not experience a longing to belong. In this blog specifically I’d like to speak for those of you who have never experienced the benefits of being a part of a tribe. First, let me tell you a brief story so that I can really make sure that you’re on the same page as I am for the rest of my writing endeavor.
When I was 12 years old I decided I wanted to be a musician. The majority of people in my family had a skilled hand in guitar and a smooth, sweet singing voice. So I figured, “sure why not! I’ll give it a go!”. From then on, I developed an ear and a heart for music. I played guitar a lot, sang even more and performed whenever I had the opportunity. I hung out with people who played, ate and breathed music. I bought my first guitar when I entered high school, a beautiful, acoustic Martin. Even more than playing, I listened to music non-stop. Studying, talking on the phone, hanging out with friends, cleaning, eating, running … everything I did revolved around whatever new music I had dug up that week. I became a part of a musical tribe. My identity was rooted in the organic music I listened to and how well I sang and played. And you know what? I’ll tell you a secret. It’s been a long time since I’ve preformed any sort of music and about a year since I wrote my last song. I hardly talk to musical individuals anymore, but I search for new music daily and make listening to it a priority in my day. Whether or not I’m as dedicated as I used to be to becoming a musician, I still consider myself one. I belong to the misfits in the musical tribe.
“One of our most powerful survival mechanisms is to be a part of a tribe; to contribute, and take from, a group of like minded people.” — Seth Godin
Tribes and Leaders
I’m sure now, you can probably think back on some experiences that you’ve had being in or observing a tribe. Whether we like them or not, they’ll always be there. Living, breathing and doing their thing. So, if you struggle to find a tribe to be a part of, or a community to call your own, what do you do about it? You create your own. There are so many people, businesses and corporations out there in the world today. Each one is striving to find it’s voice and its personality. You may even be one of them. But what if what we need is not more people joining a tribe, but more people creating and leading their own tribes?
We live in a world that desperately needs organic leadership. We need more people to take up for those who are not sure what to do, or where to go, and start a tribe of people who can feel secure that they are where they’re supposed to be. We need more small businesses and less monopoly. We need more masterpieces and less photo copies. We need a million, small, intimate, family-like tribes but most importantly….we need the leaders.
This is where those “people who have never fit in” come into play. Maybe you guys are the ones who need to start thinking about becoming leaders instead of followers. Maybe your purpose is not to join a tribe, but to create one. We need you to lead us. So, I’m calling you out! If your work place is suffering because there is no sense of transformation and growth and people are riding round in round on a carousal that only goes up and down, then form a tribe of people who ride roller coasters instead! Then, maybe your place of work will blossom and you’ll actually enjoy what you do. Change starts with you. Chances are, you’ll never understand or be fully comfortable with who you actually are but now you have the chance to lead a tribe of people who feel that exact same way.
At VoiceNation, we want to become a tribe consisting of misfits, outlanders and world changers. Six years ago, we formed a dream. We wanted to see small business flourish and not have to suffer the consequences of being shut down because they couldn’t maintain the needs of their customers. We also wanted to provide more jobs, for all kinds of people, so that they could thrive even in the midst of a struggling economy. So we created our 24hr call center, VoiceNation Live. After that, we decided that in order to provide the same great technology for companies all over the world, we would have to create a newly improved software and then, to top it off, give it away for free. And so, OpenAnswer was born and is now globally open source. Month after month, year after year, we’re birthing new dreams. We don’t always succeed in figuring out how to make them full grown, but we approach each one with a spirit of tenderness, care and excellence.
And that, is what makes us different. That is what forms…