We all have been there.  That isolating moment when no one around you understands what you are saying, or seems to share the same urgency around things that you see as clearly on fire.  Then comes the moment where you start a conversation, and the spark of recognition occurs.  The conversation can start on an airplane, in a café, waiting for an elevator, or at a professional meeting when a voice across the room suddenly sounds strangely like your own. 

This experience of finding one’s tribe happens again and again in different sectors.  Our cancer communications group has done it.  Our formation group is emerging.  Our medical education group does it.  Our consumer-based approach to translational research does it.  What is it that crosses each of these groups and feels essential to our being and our work?  In each case, the spark and balm of connecting with like-minded souls feels like an essential catalyst to the work that can happen next.  In each case:

  • We feel like we are shouting into the wind in our usual daily practices or circles or institutions
  • We feel like we have something new to say, that feels somehow threatening to the status quo
  • We feel like the insights we have somehow unlock the practices in question and are what can help shift the practices to a whole new level
  • We feel the conversation finally advance and grow when we can stop defending or explaining and start living and exploring.  

And in each case, that new level is one in which the whole person matters.  Where attending to process and the how we work is as important as the what we do. 

These are my tribes.  From Seth Godin we know that tribes can form around anything.  There can be a tribe that plays Farmville, or watches Dr. Who.  Why are they important?  You understand.  You get me.  You get my passions.  And I do not have to explain myself.  We can start the conversation at a completely new level so we can actually advance to work than defend territory. 

The question before us now is not – who is my tribe and where are they? – but rather – how do we move into the work before us?  How do I?  I already know what I need my tribe for is strength and reminding me what is possible and true.  Now, what can we – can I – do from this place?

Conversation Credit: Anthony Back, Kemp Battle, and Kathleen Farrell

08/28/2013 8:24am

I love this description of how conversation at its best--especially when it reaches into what makes us tick--is not just passing time. Genuine engagement takes a kind of work. Well, it doesn't feel like work, in the sense 'oh, i've got to keep going'; there's a different kind of energy behind it, and that energy doesn't happen just by chance. I'm not exactly sure how it all happens but i'm looking forward to more of these posts to talk about this!

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