Wanderers are always exploring what is out over the next ridge.
Looking to the horizon to see what is next, or sometimes just to see what is out there.
Our curiosity often leads us to work in isolation.
That isolation can be self-imposed, due to the nature of our passions, or community imposed.
The perception of community imposed isolation can rise out of a wanderer's spirit that is always trying to catch the wind and follow it where it is going.
This tendency makes a wanderer disruptive to those around them who are just trying to stay the course.
While we may do our best exploration alone, fundamentally, we can start to feel that we are just that, alone.
Even in the circumstance where we seek out a tribe, sometimes there aren't any available to us.
So we are left to either continue to journey in isolation, stumbling upon amazing views with no one to share them with, or found a tribe and create a place of belonging for others.
What does it take to create a space for yourself and others?
1) A clearly defined vision and mission for the tribe.Without a vision, the tribe will perish.
Originally written millennia ago in the Hebrew's collection of proverbs, the truth remains relevant.
Without a clearly defined vision for what you are trying to create, the tribe you are seeking to provide a place for will be lost.
When creating j3eight, I asked what it was I was hoping to accomplish and wrote the following:
"j3eight is a platform for like-minded wanderers to explore ideas, thoughts, and stories while providing a platform to try out content for speaking, teaching, writing, and storytelling."
The vision was not profound, but it did outline my goal of connecting with others who are also explorers.
What's more, it gave me a defined space within which I could create content.
Not too defined mind you.
But as the platform evolves, it will take on an identity.
Founding a tribe starts with a vision that defines what something is and is not, then it has a mission to carry out that vision.
Right now, j3eight leans heavily into short-form writing, with a touch of storytelling.
As j3eight grows, more forms of content will be introduced, and it will accomplish more aspects of its mission.
If you are looking to found a tribe, give voice to the vision you have, then set about a mission to accomplish that vision.
2) An understanding of what values your tribe holds.The values of the tribe you will found rise out of your DNA as a founder.
Do you value inclusivity, honesty, respect, lively disagreement, honesty, transparency, and the free flow of ideas and thoughts?
Then your tribe will likely begin with these values.
Do you put boundaries on your values?
For instance, if you value the free flow of ideas and thoughts, does that apply to all kinds of thoughts, or do you draw the line at discriminatory, harmful, or belligerent views?
If so, then those boundaries need to be expressed and not just assumed.
Undefined values can give bad actors excuse try and "rule lawyer" you into allowing their bad behavior because it is technically encompassed in your core values.
Understanding the values important to you and the boundaries of those values will allow your tribe to attract the kind of people who are looking for a place to belong.
3) A willingness to ask others to become a part of the tribe.
Such a simple idea that raises up some of the most complex anxiety.
Being a founder of a tribe means willingly exposing your creation to analysis and scrutiny from strangers.
Some of which will be toxic and seek to tear down.
Some of which will be apathetic and not care.
And some of which have been waiting for someone to ask them to be a part of something.
But before you get to any of those people, you have to overcome the fear of "the ask."
I spent years throwing my time and energy in one direction.
After putting myself in a position of almost breaking, I gave myself permission to do other things that I wanted to try.
Things like playing role-playing games.
Imagine being an almost 40-year-old owner of a law firm in the middle of a very conservative and religious community seeking to play games that the community had deemed part of the "satanic panic" of the '80s.
There was a lot of perceived external pressure not to make "the ask."
But I did, stomach in knots, make the ask.
Had I not, I would have missed out on a year of some of the best storytelling, friendships, and laughter.
Being the catalyst to create a place for others takes bravery, the willingness to get told no, and the belief to allow you to withstand potential ridicule.
But there are those out there waiting for the tribe you are going to create.
Someyimes we look for and find a place that reminds us we aren't alone.
Sometimes we have to make that place.
See you over the next ridge!