Growing up in Ohio, with two Ohio State University graduates as parents, it’s no surprise I became an avid Ohio State football fan. My dad even had a Saturday morning ritual that he was kind enough to include my sister and I in (it really was an excuse to roughhouse). He played the fight song and some other recordings from The Best Damn Band in the Land and then we marched out to the front of the house to mount the OSU flag, with some couch throwing (us onto the couch, not us throwing couches), Hang on Sloopy pushing and other crazy games thrown into the mix.
No one really understands the pride and loyalty of OSU fans except Ohio State graduates and Ohio residents. The school has such a big following not only because it’s a massive school with a BIG network, but also because they figured out how to evangelize an entire city – graduates and non-graduates alike – let alone an entire state to don the scarlet and gray.
It’s fun to grow up in that community, but it’s also necessary. It makes us feel like we belong. Like we have people who understand us. No one wants to be the lone Ohio State fan sitting in the stands in Ann Arbor. No one wants to be wearing a Steelers jersey at a Cleveland Browns game. Besides the fact that you might get bottles thrown at you, you feel alone in a sea of orange and brown, like no one understands your passion and what makes you tick.
Sports references aside, that’s how I felt a few years ago. I wasn’t surrounding myself with people who understood what mattered to me. The truth was, I couldn’t find them! My mom always told me when I was getting ready to apply for college that the largest places with the most people can also be the loneliest. Just because you surround yourself with a lot of people, doesn’t mean those people nourish your soul, speak your language and help you become a better person.
When I decided to quit my job last year and start a business, I needed a support network that I could count on to help me get through the inevitable tough times. My family didn’t know how to support me because they never lived in those shoes. My friends were college students or recent graduates just trying to find a job and most of them had no entrepreneurial endeavors in mind. In fact, I found most people were encouraging more because they wanted to live vicariously through me rather than do the work themselves.
I ended up joining a mastermind group called the Good Life Project
with New York Time’s Bestselling author Jonathan Fields at the helm. He brought together 15 people from across the country (and Canada) and taught us business skills, mindset philosophy and group think that was beyond valuable.
All 15 of us walked into a photo loft in New York City last March having never met each other before and walked away after that first weekend together forever changed, scratching our heads and wondering why we hadn’t been able to find “our” people in the world before?
Communities are powerful. My experience in the Good Life Project was not only life-changing from an events-that-happened-to-me perspective but also provided an intense shift in mindset. I was finally able to believe in myself. I was finally able to accept failure. I was finally able to go with the flow (sometimes) and I was finally able to define for myself what it means to live a good life and craft it on my own terms.
The 10-month program came to an end and I gained 16 incredible lifelong friends. I came to understand what it means to have a community in your life and I experienced the power of community firsthand. It wasn’t just about building and growing a business. It was about building and growing a life worth living.
Here are five ways your community can heal you:
1. They’ll help you identify destructive patterns in your life you can’t see
The people in your life who are with you all the time know you for who you are, destructive patterns and all. It throws off the balance of the relationship if they mention you might be doing something wrong or harmful. You’ll get defensive, they’ll get defensive and the whole relationship risks crumbling. When you’re with a group of likeminded people who come from all walks of life, they have the opportunity to see your life objectively, even if they do eventually become great friends. Just by having a structure around the relationship, you’re able to tap into a lot of wisdom that you, your family and your friends would never be able to help you see for yourself. That’s why communities with structure, organization and purpose work so well.
2. They’ll help you find your power
People who come together for a common reason typically want to see all of their peers succeed. The more the others in the group succeed, the more legitimate the group becomes. That legitimacy rubs off on you by nature of being part of the group. So it’s in the group’s best interest to help each person be the best they can be, and sometimes that means having serious heart-to-hearts, emotional conversations and shedding some tears and past lives to move forward and step into your best self. One thing is for sure – you can’t do it alone. You most likely can’t do it without letting go of some old stuff that is keeping you from being the most powerful you can be.
3. They’ll brainstorm ways you can bring your power out into the world
Once your tribe helps you finally realize that your dreams can come true, the tribe is there to brainstorm with you and offer practical ideas and suggestions based on their own broad experiences. You know you’re getting tried-and-true wisdom from people who genuinely care about your success. There is credibility to their words that you would spend a long time finding elsewhere. It was tough enough to understand where your strengths lie, but now the work is only just beginning.
4. They’ll open your mind to new paths and ideas currently unimaginable to you
Not until you meet people who have been-there-done-that can you recognize the possibilities in front of you. I would never have imagined that it was possible to start my own online business had I not seen the lives my fellow tribe-mates created in front of my own eyes. Until you surround yourself with people who have done what you can’t imagine is possible will you ever have the courage to take the first step at making your distant dreams a reality.
5. They’ll provide accountability and inspiration
When you have a tribe that you respect and adore, there is no way you want to let them down. They become your family and your closest confidantes and you feel just as guilty blowing them off as you would toward your own family. For that reason alone, without any effort by your fellow members whatsoever, you become more motivated to make progress on a daily basis. On a more formal playing field, you have a perfect crop from which to pick an accountability partner – someone who you can have weekly conversations with to help clarify goals, brainstorm ideas and get feedback on current projects.
If you don’t have a tribe in your life, whether it’s formal or informal, consider applying for Jonathan Field’s 2013 Good Life Project Immersion. This is a perfect opportunity for someone who has a business or a business idea and is looking to go out into the world and make a big difference. If you do decide to apply, let Jonathan know I referred you (full disclosure, because I’m not into spammy get-rich-quick-by- lying-to-other-people schemes, if you do get into the program, Jonathan has graciously offered a referral fee). If the program doesn’t sound like it’s right for you, start researching one that will work for you and your goals.
Have you benefitted from a tribe of supporters in your life? Let us know about them in the comments below!