Your ‘Tribes’ Are Important For Your Career Success

What Are Your Tribes?

Broncos, Seahawks.  Democrat, Republican.  Christian, Jew.  We belong to ‘Tribes.’  The correct definition of this is a social group that preceded the “state,” small in size.  The current use of the word is more of an ‘aligned’ group—somewhat informal with common interests and loyalty.  Some of these ‘tribes’ are ok to talk about at work.  Your sports team, unless it is the arch enemy of the prominent group’s team.  Your hobby group, unless it is politically incorrect.  Sometimes your tribe and your company are one—maybe Google is a tribe—but usually your tribes and your company are concentric circles with some overlap.  Sometimes your team/project/department is a tribe within your company.

It is an interesting question why we feel so strongly about the interests of our tribe.  This is probably one of the reasons that we don’t talk about some of this at work very often—religion, politics, gun control, abortion.  If I find out that you are not IN my tribe in one of these areas, it makes it harder for me to work with you.  Why is that?  You are the same person you were before I found out that you have a view that I completely disagree with (outside my tribe).  You are the same person.  If I liked you (or at least was neutral) before, why does knowing that you are in another ‘tribe’ change my opinion so much?

PPP_PRD_158_3D_people-_Business_Community_2

What Do You Do About It?

One of the most important things to acknowledge is that there are tribes and there are tribes.  Each of us has had the experience of thinking badly—ok, if you can’t admit that—not as highly of a group of people because of something.  We applied stereotypes to them.  And then you became close to a single member of that group.  You made that person an exception.  S/he was different from the rest of the group.  S/he was an exception to all the characteristics you didn’t like/objected to.  And so it was ok to like her.  It was ok to think highly of her—because all that stuff didn’t apply to her.  It’s as if we’re hard wired to think like this.

So, take advantage of the fact that we make exceptions when we get to know someone.  Create more tribes.  Create cross-tribe tribes that are based on something else—fun, work, teams, companies, hobbies, interests.  Get to know people.  Make them exceptions.  Get to know people you admire. I once went out of my way to meet the two women who wrote a book, Success and Betrayal, that changed my life.  Who do you admire?  Who do you want to learn from?  Who do you want to be like?  Inside and outside of work—seek them out.  Make them your tribe.

Eventually, you’ll see that the stereotypes you believe about certain groups are just that—stereotypes—not reality.  People are individuals.  They fall on a continuum.  They are like others in their tribes in some ways and not like them in others.  I’m talking about ALL kinds of tribes:  religious ones, political ones, gang ones, 1% ones, creative, etc.  It is insane to write off a person because they disagree with you on one continuum (or four).  Find something to agree with them on.  Get to know them.

Why?

We’ve moved past our caveman days.  We need to interact with all kinds of people.   If you want to have career success—I mean career SUCCESS then all kinds of people have to want you to succeed.  Success doesn’t just come from the quality of your work.  Sure, you have to have that, too, but someone has to want to move you up the organization.  Someone has to want to buy your product.  People have to help you succeed.  Your tribe.

Some great books about Tribes:

The Dark Side of Tribes

Tribes are the way we interact, but there are some tribes that can get in the way of effectiveness, and therefore get in the way of your career.  Be on the lookout for these.  Sometimes a department is a tribe—a silo—and it is in the way of optimizing the whole organization.  This can bring you down as well if you are too closely aligned with the silo.  You can be too closely aligned with the boss, or with the industry or with actions of a group.  You need to pay as much attention to that as to aligning with better tribes.

Understanding tribes and how you interact with them can give you a new set of tools to improve your career.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Career Development, Success, Teams

Do You Want To Start Your Own Business? Then Do It.

Stop Planning.  Start Doing.

I speak to a lot of people who want to start their own business.  I speak to lots of people who don’t start their own business.  There is only one difference between people who want to and people who have their own business.  The ones who have their own business actually DID it.  I know.  I spent six years “planning” my business.  I bought every book.  I thought I hadn’t put together enough money.  I didn’t know how to do all the things that I needed to know how to do.  I didn’t have enough contacts.  I didn’t have enough customers/clients.  Duh.  I didn’t have a business.  Why would there be clients/customers WITHOUT a business?  You just have to step out if faith.  I”m not saying do it with NO planning. You have to think out your opportunities.  You have to think out how you’re going to eat. And then you need to do it.

start

I can relate to not moving on it.   Was I more prepared after six years?  Yes.  I was not six years-worth more prepared, though.  So much of the learning that happens when you start your business happens when the rubber meets the road and you actually have to make it work.  There is nothing that does that except actually doing the work.

Do It Before You Leave Your ‘Real’ Job

What I didn’t do, which I should have, was start my business while I was still working my 9 to 5 job.  It really didn’t occur to me at the time, but I now know that this is a great solution to cushion the risk and to accelerate the learning while you still have an income.  With the current state of the economy and the likelihood that you will lose your job at some point in your work life, this approach of having an income on the side that you can ramp up if something happens makes a lot of sense.  There are a couple of new books that are great guides on how to do this.

Some Books That Might Help.

  • The Economy of You by Kimberly Palmer.  This book has lots of stories about people who actually DID it.  They started small and built their business while still employed.  The book describes when the business owners cut the cord and relied on their business for their income.  It is a great read and is quite motivational.  You don’t have to wait for perfection–step out and see what happens.
  • How to Work for Yourself by Bryan Cohen.  This is a book that addresses all the excuses you have about “no time.”  (That was what you were thinking when you started reading this post, right?)  Again, Cohen is quite motivational.  As I read the book I started noticing all the ways that I waste time.  (As I write this, this book is $0.00 on Kindle–that won’t last long–grab it!!!)

A slightly older, but more comprehensive book:

So . . . I’ve provided you some books to read if you want to put it off a little longer.  I’ve provided you books that can motivate you and challenge you if you REALLY want to do this.  Which ever–read these books.  Make this the year you DO it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Career Goals, Goal Setting, Recession Proof, Start a Business, Success

Lessons From The Oklahoma City Thunder

Thunder

I admit with some embarrassment that I am a total, absolute, over-the-top OKC Thunder fan.  My family and friends are pretty incredulous about this—I’ve never shown any interest in sports that weren’t related to my children.  Ever.  Nevertheless, my move to Oklahoma City closely correlated with the arrival of the new Oklahoma City Thunder (transferred and renamed from Seattle).  The team was young and was definitely an underdog in those days and I quickly became a fan.  They were so energized and persistent.  Some of their members were enthusiastic (at least to our face) about being in Oklahoma City and I embraced them along with the rest of the fans in Oklahoma City.

I don’t know how different the Oklahoma City Thunder is from other teams, since I never was interested enough about other basketball teams to pay attention.  It is likely, therefore, that the lessons I lay out here are true for other sports teams.  I just don’t see and hear the same things about them.

Leadership

Successful teams have several leaders and have people who aren’t traditionally leaders step up into those roles when needed.  Sure Scott Brooks is a great coach/leader, and Kevin Durant is a leader.  But so are Russell Westbrook and Derrick Fisher (the old guy) and Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha.  When the situation calls for it, someone steps up.  They aren’t lost without ‘the’ leader.

Constant, Persistent Hard Work

They REALLY work.  They take their work seriously.  They practice, practice, practice, practice.  Malcolm Gladwell says in Outliers that REALLY good people practice more than the rest of us (in fact he says the number is 10,000 hours—which has been disputed by some).  We know this in our heads.  Most of us don’t want to be great enough to put the work in.  The Thunder is an example of what happens when you do.  (At the moment they have the best record in the West and the second best in the East).  They have risen to Playoff level very quickly for such a young team.  They wouldn’t be there without the hard work.

How many of us approach our work that way?  Or how many of us put in “enough” hours and go home?  How many of us are considered the ‘best’ at what we do?

Teamwork—Support Each Other

They talk a good story about team.  They say all the right things.  When you watch them, you can actually see that they aren’t lying.  In the recent game against the Miami Heat, Kendrick Perkins had only five minutes playing time (his lowest amount of time since 2006).  If you don’t know Perk, he tends to be a bit grumpy (looking, anyway).  So there was discussion among the press of what his reaction would be.  We only had to wait a day.  He tweeted,

“What’s good my peeps? Great teams win. Whatever it takes. Sacrificing is what good teams do. When my name is called I’ll be ready. 9 in a row”

Kevin Durant, the leading scorer on the team, ALWAYS talks about team.  Coach Scott Brooks ALWAYS talks about team.

Teams support each other.  Teams work together.  Teams use each member’s strengths to achieve the team goals.

Do you even talk the “team” talk?  That’s a place to start, especially if you are the leader.  Do you walk the “team” walk?  That’s what it takes for people to believe it.  Teams get better results.  Do you believe that?  Do you see it?  Thunder makes it obvious.

One Day At A Time

As Kevin gets better and better (currently he is the leading scorer in the NBA by quite a margin), and as the Thunder’s record grows, the pressure is mounting to continue the performance.  Can they?  Will they?  These are the questions that get asked of Brooks and Durant and the other players.  Their answer is always the same.  We focus on the next game.  We are thinking about today’s game.  They refuse to engage in the discussion of anything but the very next obstacle ahead of them.

Do you do that?  Or are you thinking about the next three things?  Or are you consumed by the 3,000 things that must get done before the project is done?  Yes, you have to be aware of the things ahead.  Your focus, however, should be on the NEXT thing.  FOCUS on what is next.  Get it done.  Then do it again.

It seems to work for the Thunder.

Roll With The Punches, Figure It Out, Keep Going

Related to taking it one day at a time, when things go wrong—lose a game, lose a player—start again with the next practice, game, emergency.  Get it out of your head.  Get on with what is next.  This is an extremely helpful (and hard to do) tactic.  If you let the loss go, and FOCUS on what is next, you are starting fresh.  You have a much better chance of changing the future with this tactic.

Don’t Freak Out

It is not unusual for the Thunder to be behind by twenty points.  How, you might ask, can they be a great team if they are behind by that much?  They just don’t freak out.  They just keep plugging away.  They keep trying.  They keep playing.  And usually, they catch up and get ahead.  They don’t freak out when they are behind.  They don’t rest and relax when they are ahead.  They keep playing HARD.

So . . . Go For It!  And Watch The Oklahoma City Thunder😉

Leave a comment

Filed under Brand Yourself, Oklahoma City Thunder, Teams

Twenty Years Ago

Twenty years ago tomorrow the worst thing that I could ever imagine happened to me.  My husband died.  Twenty years provides great perspective.  When it happened, I couldn’t imagine surviving one year, let alone twenty years.  I was in shock for the first few months and focused on just surviving.  One foot in front of another.  One day after another.  One week . . .

Now, though, twenty years later,  I can see all the good things that happened because of it.  I know that that sounds weird.  That is the tough paradox of losing someone.  Things can get better.  Things can be good.  Good things can even happen because of the bad things that went before.

When my husband died–he was quite young–I didn’t know who I was anymore.  My identity was being part of a we–a team, both at work and at home.  Co-parents and co-workers.  We’d been together since high school and had done college and graduate school together.  We had ended up working for the same company.  I know that the people around me didn’t think of me as “half” of two, but I did.  I had to struggle with who I was going to be for the rest of my life.  I had family and friends who helped me.  I had an incredible therapist who helped me.  I had four kids who gave me a reason to go on.  Slowly but surely I figured out who I would be.  I figured out what it was that I liked to do at work.  I figured out what it would take to build a life doing that work.

I now have a life and work that I really love.  I can see that it wouldn’t have happened in the same way if I hadn’t gone through what I did.  I can testify that you can survive the worst and you can build the life you want. Give yourself time and space to heal, and then decide what you want and figure out how to do it.

2 Comments

Filed under Personal Change

What If Today Were ‘The First Day’?

iStock_000020315304Small

As a consultant, I’ve had lots of first days.  I start with a company and I have an open mind about what the problems are and about what it will take to solve them.  I am excited and ambitious about what a difference I can make.  I meet people and don’t make judgments–I don’t know them well enough to make judgments.  I listen carefully to what people say and don’t pick which ones I believe.  I’m aware that they each have their own perceptions and there is a reason for each.  I’m not frustrated on the first day, or behind on my “ToDo’s”, or irritated with my coworkers.  I LOVE the first day.

What I’ve learned over time, on days that AREN’T the first, for days when I AM frustrated, or irritated, or overwhelmed by the problems that now seem insurmountable, is to remember what it is like on the first day.  If this were the first day, I tell myself, I wouldn’t be irritated by this, I would be interested.  I would be patient and would ask questions and would listen.  If this were the first day, I would believe that I could figure out a solution and would put my energy into it.  If it were the first day, this problem would look solveable and these people would seem helpful.   So . . . If I think of this as the first day, and if I act like this is the first day, then it will be the same as the first day and I can start again.

Just sayin’ . . .

2 Comments

January 22, 2014 · 9:01 pm

Want To Have Some Fun?

Have some fun with your LinkedIn Network.  Go to http://inmaps.linkedinlabs.com.  Log in with your email and LinkedIn password.  Once your network map has been created, roll your cursor over it.  It will call out a name in your network and show you who all within your network is connected to that contact.  Do it again.  It’s fun to see how all the contacts are connected to each other.

My Linkedin Network Map

My Linkedin Network Map

OneLinkedIn Contact

One LinkedIn Contact

Another Linkedin Contact

Another LinkedIn Contact

And Another LinkedIn Contact

And Another LinkedIn Contact

Leave a comment

Filed under Networking

Do You Take Initiative?

iStock_000028528352XSmall

Duh.  I Know To Take The Initiative.

You’ve heard that you should take initiative. Duh. But do you do it? Do you suggest ideas? Do you seek to improve the situation? Do you take action? Do you do it when it isn’t expected? The FREE Dictionary defines “take the initiative” as “to activate oneself to do something even if one has not been asked to do it.” That last part is the important part–even if one hasn’t been asked to do it.  Do you do things without being asked to do them? Do you surprise the people you work with by taking on things and getting them done?  So many of us wait around to be told to do stuff.  Do you see things that need to be done, problems that need to be solved, and do you take them on and get them done?

Taking the initiative can make the difference between getting noticed and not.  It can get you attention from the right people in your organization.  Part of the reason for that is that it is such a surprise when people actually step out of their ‘wait to be told’ role and think for themselves and take action.  You may think I’m crazy.  You may think that people take the initiative all the time.  But think about the last time someone actually surprised you by doing something that needed to get done that wasn’t clearly in his/her responsibility.

People who are good at their job are good at what their job is–not beyond that.  People who take initiative are beyond good at their job.  They are on their way to being good at the next level job and the one beyond that.  They are thinking (and acting) like their boss.  Whoa, you may say.  My boss won’t like that.  I’ll step on his/her toes.  There is a difference between ‘doing’ your boss’ job and taking iniative.  When you take initiative, you help your boss rather than step on his/her toes.  You lift some of the load.  Remember–SURPRISE is the key.

So How Do You Take Initiative?

We are well trained to do what we are told.  We learned it at home.  It was enforced at school.  (I once did a survey of middle school teachers of how they identified students who were leaders.  Many of them said the leaders were the ones who followed directions, were quiet and did what they were told!)  We learned to succeed at our entry level jobs by learning and following the rules quickly and well.  Our bosses expect us to do the things that are in our job.  They don’t expect much else.  And so we learn.  We modulate our brains and actions to fit without our roles.  We wait to be told to act beyond the day to day-ness of our jobs.

The key to taking the initiative is the way you think about it.  Do you see a problem?  Instead of just seeing it and walking by it, think about what could be done about it.  Think about what YOU could do about it.  Then DO it.  It takes some bravery.  It’s like visiting a new city without a map.  Make creating that surprise your goal.

The first time I did it, I did it by accident.  I created a report of my observations about something just because I was  too full of my own opinions to keep quiet about it.  It didn’t occur to me that anything would happen except that someone might read my report.  Then I just couldn’t stop with the opinions and made some suggestions at the end of the report.  I didn’t see it as taking the initiative.  I saw it as finding a way of expressing my opinions and ideas that were trying to push their way out of me.  Apparently this spontaneous creation of opinion and suggestion (on a problem that had been driving people nuts for a while) from someone at my level was completely unexpected.  It got attention.  It got me called into a meeting with people at the top of the organization to be questioned about my ideas.  It got me assigned to the group to implement some of the ideas (that got funded beyond my imagination).  It started my career on its way.  I recently found a copy of the report I wrote so long ago.  It wasn’t particularly well written.  Today I would know how to ‘sell’ the ideas and I would have pre-sold them to people to make the organization more receptive.  My reaction when I found that report, however, was–that is when my career hit a pivot point.  When someone read that report, he was surprised.  Maybe the surprise itself made him pay attention to the content.  I can see now:  I took the initiative.  That accident taught me the benefit of taking the initiative.

So What Do You Do?

  • Proactively look at problems.
  • Think about what it would take to SOLVE them.
  • Think about what you could do to get the ball rolling.
  • DO IT.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bosses, Career Development, Goal Setting, Success