Ubuntu

The make-up and benefits of a tribe.

“I am because we are.”

Of African origin, “Ubuntu” roughly translates to “I am because we are.” The idea is that a group of people working toward a common goal is more potent than any individual contributor. Tribalism is ingrained in our DNA. For millennia, humans sheltered, hunted, and protected young together. The strength of the tribe dictated how well-resourced and secure it was from threats. 

I learned about Ubuntu as a junior in high school. After a mediocre sophomore season plagued by poor team chemistry, our coach was determined to bond our team as a singular unit. Ubuntu became our core culture tenet. The word was hung in our locker room and it became a frequent talking point throughout the season. I played basketball year-round for multiple teams, and saw time and again how underdog teams with great chemistry could take down more talented, less cohesive ones.

I often think of the San Antonio Spurs. They won three out of four NBA championships in the early 2000’s, punching above their weight against the likes of Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Kevin Garnett, and many other talented players. The Spurs head coach, Greg Popovich, is a master of Ubuntu. He finds role players who stitch together in a beautiful rhythm where everyone thrives within the parameters of their responsibilities. There was no ego on the Spurs – they won together and lost together. 

Sport is a great metaphor for life. Many of the lessons I learned playing basketball have translated into my personal and professional relationships. Concepts like grit, resilience, optimism, and trust were driven into me via the game of basketball. However, no lesson is more obvious than the importance of building and maintaining a tribe. Ubuntu is ingrained in the philosophical framework that underpins Beanie & Blazer.


What is a tribe?

A tribe is a group of people who are bonded together by a common set of goals or ideologies. A family is a tribe. A sports team is a tribe. A customer support department is a tribe. In the context of lifestyle engineering, a tribe is the group of people who guide, support, and motivate you to accomplish your goals in alignment with your core personal values

A high-performance tribe consists of:

  1. Experienced leaders and mentors who teach you how to accomplish your goals. 
  2. Unconditional supporters who carry you through the highs and lows of your journey. 
  3. An absence of negative naysayers who are counterproductive to your growth. 

Let’s unpack each of these subsets.


Leaders & Mentors

To engineer an authentic lifestyle is to live according to your own values and goals instead of those you’re conditioned to prioritize. Forging an authentic path in life is inherently unique to your wants and needs. As a result, ambiguity exists. Mentors help remove some of the ambiguity. They give you the confidence and skills required to press forward in the face of adversity. 

Imagine you have a goal to lose 30 lbs. but you’ve never learned about proper nutrition, exercise, or positive self-talk. To permanently lose 30 lbs requires breaking bad habits and implementing new ones that will propel you forward on your journey. To help alleviate the challenge of habit development, it’s common to hire a personal trainer and a nutritionist.

These experts have studied and received certifications for their knowledge related to weight loss and management. They’re perfect mentors! To best serve you, they’ll design plans for you to execute. The personal trainer will give you a workout regimen that includes cardio, weights, and stretching. The nutritionist will introduce you to a whole food diet with recipes and grocery lists designed to complement your new exercise routine.

Considering the fact that you’ve never learned about proper exercise or nutrition, this should be a breath of fresh air. The ambiguity has been removed. Now all you have to do is execute the plan, and the weight will begin to fall away in due time. 

Had you not enlisted the help of experts in these areas, you would be left to sift through the immense amount of information that exists online. Despite much of that information being valuable, it’s challenging to know which programs and sites you should trust based on your body profile and psychological makeup.

Without experienced people guiding you, it will take much longer to earn the education necessary to accomplish your biggest goals. The steeper the learning curve, the higher the likelihood of quitting. Enlisting people who know how to help and leveraging their advice is the fastest way to accelerate your personal development. 


Unconditional Supporters

Mentors help you accomplish goals. Supporters help you stay positive. Life isn’t all about productivity. High-performance is all about how well you live in alignment with your values. It’s not about how many promotions you’ve gotten or how many marathons you’ve run. This is counterintuitive to what most people believe. Living by standards that you set for yourself can feel lonely. Other people will likely wonder why you think and behave how you do. 

When I quit college basketball, I had a big falling out with my teammates. They were my best friends; we were bound together by the goal of winning and the intensity of our workout regimen. Once I was no longer part of the team, our relationship permanently changed. They couldn’t understand why I would abandon our tribe in pursuit of something different from basketball. 

To cope with the loss of my tribe, I anchored to my family, my then-girlfriend, and the few remaining friends I had. These people served as my unconditional supporters. They didn’t care whether I won a basketball championship or started a massive company. All they cared about was making me feel loved and supported. Without their emotional buoyancy, I would have succumbed to the sadness of losing my core group of friends. With them, I had the confidence required to move to North Carolina in pursuit of entrepreneurship.

The stability offered by supporters is a critical benefit of having mentorship. Without loved ones reminding you of your value, you begin placing your self-worth in your accomplishments. Without mentors driving you toward success, you may never recognize your full potential. A high-performance tribe can’t exist without these two elements. However, there’s a critical third component to a high-performance tribe.

Without loved ones reminding you of your value, you begin placing your self-worth in your accomplishments. Without mentors driving you toward success, you may never recognize your full potential.


Absence of Negative Naysayers

When I think of negative people I conjure an image of a hiker with too much gear. They’re weighed down by extra electronics, cooking equipment, books, clothes, whatever. Because they’re laden down with unnecessary stuff, they’re unable to complete the hike as intended. They give up halfway up the mountain because the physical stress created by the extra bullshit overpowers their will to continue. 

Engineering an authentic lifestyle is a lot like hiking up a mountain. You have to create a map (goals), calibrate a personal compass (values), and pack the correct gear (habits & tribe). Without values and goals, you’ll lose sight of what you want to accomplish and how you want to live. Without a tribe and strong habits, you’ll face more challenges on the path forward. 

Think of negative people as the extra gear you don’t need. They add weight without adding any value. The time you invest listening to gossip, regurgitations of sour headlines, and constant drama would be much better spent on ideas, support, and creative expression. To hold onto negativity is to embrace toxicity. You want your tribe to be free of toxic energy, so be very careful about who you include in your circle, and what topics you allow to cross your boundaries. 


Benefits of Having a Tribe

Without a tribe supporting and guiding you toward your vision, you’re left to fend for yourself. The path is more difficult when you have to learn every lesson firsthand and sift through the mountain of differing opinions offered online. There are five core benefits of building and maintaining a strong tribe:

  1. It helps close the knowledge gap. It’s hard to learn a new skill. It’s even harder when you don’t have someone to lead you in the right direction. Surrounding yourself with experts in the areas you want to grow shrinks the amount of time it takes to adopt new skills. 
  2. It keeps you humble and oriented for learning. Doing your own thing is fun. It can feel personally and professionally rewarding. Dopamine and other feel-good chemicals flood your brain to validate that you’re on the right track. A tribe helps you manage your ego and keep a holistic perspective. 
  3. It removes volatility from the emotional roller coaster of being on your own path. Independent thinkers who spend a lot of time in self-reflection are apt to vary between manic highs and depressive lows. What one day feels like a flaw can feel like a huge benefit in other contexts. When people you trust are transparent about your strengths and weaknesses, it helps smooth the emotional curve you’ll experience when pushing your comfort zone. 
  4. It provides socialization, a critical part of the human experience. Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, it’s important to spend quality time with the people you love. Nobody wants to be a lonely tortured artist. Embrace the connectivity that a tribe offers. Love them and let them love you.
  5. It prevents stupid mistakes. You’re going to fuck up a lot. It’s the nature of the beast. Mitigating the severity of those mistakes is another benefit of having mentorship and guidance. Reduce the number of poor decisions and reap the reward of leveraging other people’s stupidity. 

Conclusion

Rare is the person who finds success and happiness without the support and guidance of other people. Ubuntu isn’t cliche. It’s an important component of what makes humans so special. It’s often the difference between success and failure. Companies with great products and poor teams fail to get off the ground. Talented athletes don’t win championships without a strong supporting cast. Musicians’ music is never heard without a team of people to help promote it. 

Be intentional about the people you choose to be surrounded by. By building a network of mentors and supporters you’ll set yourself up for a much more pleasant journey. Dissociate yourself from people who drain you. We’re only guaranteed one life, so make it one worth living. Strong relationships with amazing people make it so much more beautiful. 


What is Beanie & Blazer?

Beanie & Blazer trains creators to differentiate themselves from competition by leveraging their unique values and talents. We call this process Lifestyle Engineering.

We can help you evolve with intent in just 6-weeks. Join the Mindset Accelerator waitlist to find out how.

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