I am a very lucky person in very many ways. I am aware of that and I thank my lucky stars every single day. Not only was I born into a very loving and large and connected family, but I have, in my 40+ years on this earth, gathered up a goodly amount of amazing friends. And believe me when I say that this network of family and friends is definitely not something I take for granted. Ever.
The fact that I continuously meet remarkable new people on this life's journey is one of the biggest surprises of my adult experience -- and the very thing I tell young adults when asked about life's great surprises. Really? Incredible people just keep showing up? Yup.
One weekend this past year was a great example of that. A couple of hundred women all gathered in one room to listen, learn and share ideas at the bi-annual MomCom Austin event. I was invited to share the stage with my dear friend Carrie Contey and together, we spoke on the subject of 'building your tribe.' We told the story of how our group of seven women came together -- to work, share, learn, inspire and support each other through this thing called life. Though we initially came together in the name of work to find more ways to stay in our creative flow in the midst of early parenting, what we've become to each other over the past eight years has been more than we could ever have imagined. And though we came together intentionally, we had no idea we were forming a group that would still be together this many years later. And we had no idea we were forming a group that has been and continues to be so instrumental to all of us, personally and professionally, and that we see now will likely last our whole lives long. This group is our mindspring, our think tank, our wall for bouncing off ideas and our safety net when it's time to make a big leap.
This group makes us all think, lucky us, for sure.
With hindsight as our guide, Carrie and I prepared for our talk by pondering the things that made the group work. The things that continuously bond and inspire us, not only as a connected group, but individually, the things that bring us to our very best selves. Every day. And the things that make us feel fortunate. Every day. And the things that have made it work and last and be the very essence of goodness that we all have come to count on and dive into when we need a good kick.
So, here, in 10 easy steps, are some ideas for creating your own tribe. To inspire you, comfort you and make your life even luckier than it currently is...
10 Ways to Create Your Own Tribe...
- Start small and stay small. Add too many people and you won't feel obliged to show up because you'll feel you won't be missed if you're not there. Though it feels strange to keep it tight, if you open it too big, it won't be sustainable. This isn't a play group, this is a think tank. So, more isn't necessarily merrier. This might be the hardest part to explain to people, but truly, the thing we all think has kept it going all these years.
- When forming your group, find a couple of women you love and ask them each to find one more person. This creates an immediate circle of women who will probably get along and who most likely will start off with a shared mindset.
- Find a common thread and work from there. Maybe you're all mamas or artists or marathon runners or inventors or some such. A common ground is a great starting point.
- Start with a clear intention and a shared desire -- a writing workshop,an entrepreneurial guide, a retreat, etc. And start off with something that you pay for which will make you more likely to commit fully to it. Somehow when we pay, we feel more committed to show up. Like it has more value somehow.
- Keep it purposeful. The social aspect is fun and of course crucial to it continuing year after year, but the commitment to a book or writing exercises or something definitively productive makes it more likely that you will show up fully and regularly.
- Make a regular meeting time. Rather than having to discuss it each week or each month, make it the same -- Tuesday nights or First Thursday or something to give it it's rightful place.
- Find a sustainable time slot -- something that won't be easily pre-empted by some other meeting or commitment or family need. For us it was Tuesday nights at 9:15 p.m.. Since we all had littles at the time and full plates otherwise, we knew this time slot was one we could make available week after week after week.
- Once you've formed and your group has been going a while, hire someone every now and again to bring you to the next level -- when the group needs a bump up, hire out to reignite the commitment.
- Name it. By naming it, you can call it by its name and by calling it you are acknowledging it's powerful existence. And giving your family something to call it too that feels more powerful than just, "Mom's group of women." We call ours Goodness. Because that's what it is to us: pure, unadulterated goodness.
- Ask your family for support and encouragement in making it work. Even your kids. Ask them to joyfully give you the space and ask them too to help you get yourself out the door so that you can meet up regularly. If they moan or beg you to stay, remind them of all you get from it, which in turn will mean they, too, will get something from it.
So, go on. Make your own tribe. Your mind, your work, your family and the world will be better off for it. That I guarantee.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post in conjunction with our women's conference, "The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power," which took place in New York on June 6, 2013. To read all of the posts in the series and learn more about the conference, click here. Join the conversation on Twitter #ThirdMetric.