Back in May, Tina Roth Eisenberg of SwissMiss fame, shared a quote by Adrienne Rich that struck a chord:
“The possibilities that exist between two people, or among a group of people, are a kind of alchemy. They are the most interesting thing in life.”
In order for alchemy to occur – in order to turn some dull metal into gold – it’s necessary to combine several ingredients. One just won’t do the trick.
Likewise, in order to create anything new and innovative, it’s helpful to have several unique perspectives. Despite all the old myths about the lonely artist, the most prolific creatives are those who have the insight to recognize the value of other people.
WHAT IS THE VALUE OF A TRIBE?
According to recent research, loneliness poses a greater health risk than either smoking or lack of exercise. Being a part of a community is good for you; it boosts your immune system in addition to boosting your brainpower.
A sense of security
Early farmers recognized the danger is being entirely self-reliant, and so they developed insurance programs. By investing in one another, communities of farmers protected one another and themselves from fires, lost crops, and other disasters. Likewise, investing in a community of creatives protects you from fatigue, idea droughts, and other creative problems.
In his 2012 TedTalk, Scott Dinsmore said, “There is no bigger life hack in the history of the world from getting where you are today to where you want to be than the people you choose to put in your corner.” When you surround yourself with other talented, thoughtful, supportive creatives, you are accessing living, breathing inspiration.
WHAT’S PREVENTING YOU FROM CREATING A TRIBE?
We all know that there are benefits from engaging with other like-minded individuals, and yet we still find ourselves all too often indulging our solitary artist-selves with late night Netflix marathons or bending to our inner micromanager who insists we do all the work ourselves. We’ve got plenty of excuses when we’re pressed to commit to a community, from lack of time to lack of human resources, but we’re only harming ourselves when we avoid making time for community.
WHERE CAN YOU FIND YOUR TRIBE?
In all likelihood, they’re right there in front of you already. The tribe gurus at Being Boss cite your blog readers and social media followers as tribe members, your blogger buddies and internet friends, other creatives in your community, real-life friends and acquaintances, co-workers and collaborators, and your very best friends and family members as potential tribe members.
WHAT’S THE SECRET TO AN IDEAL TRIBE?
If a tribe is too small, it’s easy to fall prey to the bookclub dilemma. That is, you’ve got a few like-minded people who enjoy one another’s company, and after an initial, tentative foray into meaningful discussion, things get tangential and wine-soaked. Not much is accomplished.
If a tribe is too large, you’ll find it difficult to develop the intimate relationships that lead to genuine collaboration and support.
Most experts agree that the ideal size for a creative community is between 5 and 8 people. If you’re building your tribe from scratch, identify six other people who share similar interests and goals. You might decide to bring in seasoned veterans to offer experienced wisdom as well as novices who bring in fresh insight. Whatever their experience or expertise, bring in people who are willing to both give and receive feedback graciously.
Heed that old adage: To have a friend, be a friend.
If you want to cultivate a tribe, find ways to take action with and on behalf of your tribe members. I’ve fostered my own tribe of creatives through endeavors like The Fabricant Way, which allows me to offer support to other creatives I admire. You might take time to share or comment on their posts on social media. Schedule regular meetings to share triumphs and trials. Go out on the town together to absorb local art and culture. Collaborate on projects.
Building a tribe will do wonders for your creative spirit, but it will do much more than that. It’ll make you healthier and happier. It’ll give you fresh insight into your problems and inspiration for your art.