Sometimes little glittering bits of Goodness begin to appear after a tragic loss or crushing heartbreak – like morning dew settling on the charred remains of a fire ravaged forest. These little glimmers of possibility make you remember why life is worth living well. A couple of weeks ago a childhood friend passed away unexpectedly. In the process of corresponding with his family, his sister shared some information that I think is critical to pass on to you. This friend was the youngest of a large and tightknit family. He wore a perpetual smile and courted mischief and mayhem. His passing rent a hole in many lives, most of all the lives of his family, his tribe.
A tribe is a group of people who are connected to one another. They share kinship, have a common leader, and hold to a central ideal. Tribes have a clearly defined identity which unifies them. They share a culture and a belief system. Tribes are inherently strong because they have a common goal and typically share a common enemy. They think as one.
Our modern culture suffers from a lack of connectedness. We hunger to belong to something significant and meaningful. We yearn to feel a part of a strong and bonded community. We fail to realize that it is still within our grasp to function as a tribe. One single family or a band of friends can begin to create a tribe. My friend was fortunate enough to belong to one of these rare tribes. His sister reminded me of what a modern day tribe looks like and she shared a peek inside their culture.
To create a modern day tribe you need several things. First, you must spend time together working and playing. You need to consider each other carefully and know each other – likes and dislikes, character and qualities, hopes and aspirations. You must see yourselves in an “us against the world” sort of way so that members of the tribe unite to protect each other. Each individual is valued and respected, but the overall survival of the tribe is primary. You commit to each other. Within the tribe there must be an identified leader, a chief, and this person must be wise and willing to take on this important role. Without a clear and willing leader there will be weakness in the tribe. Without a leader who is wise and has the best interest of the tribe at heart, you will have rebellion.
Let me speak a moment to the chiefs – the tribal leaders. You know who you are. The role of chief is paramount to the tribe. You have an opportunity to rise up and lead. This is a chance for you to come through for your whole family AND the generations to follow. Be Brave and Take the Initiative. It is your right and privilege as tribal leader.
Beyond that, here are three ideas that can help solidify and reinforce your modern tribe.
Create a Motto: The following is a quote from the sister I mentioned above. “I am so grateful our parents instilled in us a great sense of loyalty to family. Our family motto is “let’s stick together“. I am not sure I ever knew another family who had a motto. I’m sure it came from a “boy scout” concept that my dad adopted for our family” She went on to mention that with the untimely loss of her brother, she is now, more than ever, thankful that they truly lived by this motto. It was put to the test on many occasions I am sure – but it held.
Create a motto for your tribe that encapsulates your deep desire for your family. Make it count. My family motto would be, “your heart matters most.” What would yours be?
Have a Cheer: No doubt most Americans can visualize a scene from an old western in their minds… a loud Indian cry is heard as the tribal leaders ride off to battle. A cry or a cheer is an important part of identifying and unifying any group – so why not a family? Here again is an awesome example of how this can work, shared by the same family:
“The craziest thing we’ve ever done as a family (and the first time my friends would experience this they would think we were crazy) is whenever mom would fix a really big meal, or have people over, or we would be celebrating a special occasion, my dad would say let’s give her “three howls and an uggggg..” it sounds crazy but we kind of do a fist pump for the howl, howl, howl, and at the uggg, you lower your arm and direct it at the recipient. What a hoot! Now, he does it for any of the nieces, or daughters-in-law who help prepare etc., I have so many friends now, who when they come over, ask “are we doing the howl, howl, howl, ugggg, tonight?” ha,ha… crazy, big, fun family.”
What a great idea! Having a family cheer is a fun way to unite your family and celebrate an event or another member of the tribe. It does so many good things – it helps create a sense of belonging, it enriches the identity of the tribe, it fosters the importance of celebrating each other, and it strengthens the bond between you, PLUS, it’s fun.
Know Your Family’s Mission:
Your life has purpose. The life of your family does too. Many families completely miss that they are able to live TOGETHER with purpose. Our obsession with individuality can cause us to think only of ourselves, but a tribe can have a goal and a purpose – a tribe needs a goal and a purpose to stay united and focused.
Several years ago my family began to develop our own mission statement. Not only is it important to create a focused statement for your family, but it is also tribe building to walk through the process together. We used a wonderful resource to help us through the process and it made it so much easier. I want to recommend the Franklin Covey Mission Statement Builder. When you click through to this link, notice at the bottom that they have a specific option for families. Before you begin, you might want to check out the “Get Inspired” link and watch the videos you will find there. If your children are young, you and your spouse can create this statement together. If the kids are older, be sure you include them in this process.
These three simple steps can help you begin to turn your family into a tribe. Remember that to have the kind of tribe you really want you must begin with the end in mind. Think about what kind of family you want to be and where you want to end up in the years to come. Start to create the tribe you want with a motto, a mission statement, and most of all… a cheer!!
“The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.” -Confucius
Strengthen your family. Try these three great ideas to create your own tribe!