Recently I participated in the annual WIN for KC mini-triathlon. I regularly exercise with my boot camp buddies and I trained for this mini-tri with a group of friends also planning to participate. These women are part of my wellness tribe and many of them were there for the race as participants or supporters. On race day you can feel that excitement in the air, along with a little anxiety and even a touch of fear or uncertainty. No matter the emotion at the beginning there is no mistaking the palpable pride and joy felt by each individual as they complete the challenge. These feelings are visibly and energetically amplified across the collective of fellow racers and all the friends and family meeting at the finish line. I experienced it in my very core and felt connected to everyone there, even those I didn’t know.
In chapter four, Find Your Tribe, of my upcoming book, The E Factor: Engage, Energize, Enrich – 3 Steps to Vibrant Health, I write about the importance of finding a wellness tribe for your journey. I want to share with you just the very beginning of that chapter to set the stage for finding your wellness tribe.
“Spending time taking care of yourself, walking your own path, does not mean you have to do it alone. In fact, it is better if you don’t. You need a tribe. Typically when we think of tribe we picture native or aboriginal peoples, focusing primarily on the ancestral connection. We may assume that definition translates to our tribe being our family and friends. Yes, and beyond. Author, Seth Godin tells us that a tribe is simply “a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader and connected to an idea.” He goes on to say that “A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.”
Beyond your family you are certainly part of a number of tribes: alumni group, book club, PTA, golf buddies, neighborhood, choir, country club, church, Mac (vs. PC people), iPhone (vs. Android people), Comic-con, political party, networking groups, etc. The internet creates a myriad of new ways to form tribes. Think about your social media habits: how you group friends on Facebook, the circles you form within Google+, who you follow on Twitter, blogs you follow, or the groups you join on LinkedIn. In all of these examples you have a shared interest or intention for coming together, being in alignment with one another.
Why do we form tribes and why do we do it the way we do? There are entire fields of study in social, behavioral, natural and complexity sciences to answer those questions. In 1943, Abraham Maslow published an article, “A Theory of Human Motivation,” in Psychological Review, which he later expanded upon in books and detailed what he deemed a hierarchy of needs. Let’s consider Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for insight strictly from the perspective of your wellness tribe. Maslow’s theory surmised that humans had five primary needs: physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. He believed that, in order for one to move towards self-actualization, the other needs must be met and in the order listed.
You can imagine how beneficial it was to be part of a tribe thousands of years ago, even hundreds of years ago. A tribe made it easier to have enough food, secure shelter, as well as have protection from wild animals and other tribes. The tribe was family, intimacy and community. Depending on the tribe and point in history, there may have been a hierarchy in leadership or status to achieve. The evolution of civilization demonstrates levels of self-actualization reached. Fast forward centuries and tribes are the communities we are either born into or choose. While the primary reason for being part of a tribe may no longer be survival, community is still a critical part of reaching self-actualization. That is why a tribe which echoes your quest for wellness is important.”
I go on in the chapter to explain the myriad of ways a wellness tribe can be part of your journey and who those people or groups may be, and how to find them. I look forward to sharing more when you read this chapter in the new book. In the meantime, I challenge you to think about all the people in your life currently that are your biggest health and wellness cheerleaders, those whose wellness lifestyle you admire and from whom you’d want to learn, those who can support you as an expert or as a friend. Be open and willing to be vulnerable.