Death in a Silo
Last week I talked about holding yourself accountable. I talked about how excellence happens in the decisions we make in the hours when no one is around to see us make the right decisions or do the right things.
While that still holds true, it’s not the whole story. Part of your journey toward excellence will include very lonely hours, but the other must be full of very intentional relationships.
While working alone is part of the journey, operating in a silo is deadly. No one knows you’re in there and it’s easy to put blinders on and try to grind out the work, not seeing the pending danger and end up buried.
You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know
I got the opportunity last night to participate in a rite of passage dinner for a young man who recently turned 21. Rather than do the typical thing a 21 year old does, his father decided to make this moment intentional and set his son up for success, responsibility, and excellence.
He did this by calling together a handful of the men in his son’s life that held influence. Each of us took a turn speaking into his life and future as a man. As I listened to each of these men speak, it occured to me that something like this needs to be more than just a one-off occasion.
When we seek excellence, there will inevitably be things along the way we don’t know or understand. At that moment, if we are wise, we will seek council. But what about the things we don’t know we don’t know? What about the things to which we are totally blind. How do we pursue excellence in the midst of those?
The answer is simple; we have to have a tribe.
Building Your Tribe
The “why” of a tribe, to me, is obvious. Operating alone is a dangerous and potentially deadly proposition. If you can’t see your blind spots, you don’t know they exist and they can kill you. Not literally (ok, sometime literally), but they can kill your progress. They can kill your spirit, your relationships, your dreams.
So, the “why” is obvious. But the how is sometimes difficult. As I’ve worked on building my own tribe, here’s what I’ve learned about the types of people you’ll want in your group:
- Someone who is 2 life-stations ahead of you. Meaning if you’re newly married, you need someone who is about to be an empty nester. Or, maybe you’re the empty nester, you want someone who’s just retired and perhaps a new grandparent. They have experience and knowledge (aka wisdom) that is vital to your direction as you grow. As they teach you, they get wiser, which means you’ll both continue to benefit from the relationship.
- Someone who is at your same station in life. Someone who can commiserate with your current struggles and victories. Also, this will be someone who can call you on the things you’re falling short on because they’re in the moment with you. They are a peer and understand more than a mentor or mentee will.
- Someone 2 life-stations behind you. This is someone you can teach. As you teach, you gain a deeper understanding of lessons you have already learned. Now though, you get to analyze them and extract more from them. Much like the first relationship, you’ll both continue to benefit. Also, as you pursue excellence you have an obligation to pass on your knowledge and bring someone along with you.
It doesn’t need to be only 1 of each type of person. It also doesn’t need to be even numbers of each. You can 2-3 mentors, 1 close friend, and 4 mentees. Or whatever combination shakes out, but each avatar should be represented.
Putting it Together
By building a tribe like this you can always ensure you are moving forward. You have someone guiding you, someone along side of you and someone to lead. There is constant movement. Constant pursuit.
There is an old African proverb that says “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Sometime you will have to do some solo work on things you have learned. But in order to keep going, you going to need a tribe around you to make sure you don’t get stuck in a silo.
Until next week; God bless, work hard, and be Excellent!