Power of Tribe

May 7, 2011

Do you have soulful friendships?  Can you go years without seeing certain friends yet connect immediately when reunited?  What makes your bond of friendship strong with your best friends?

Aaron Johnson and i after completing our 10+ hour 50 mile trail run on Mount Hood last summer. What a Belief Energy day!

I ran for more than three hours up and down Mount Tam with Tucker Maclean and Chuck Dietrich, soulful friends of mine, this morning.  Since they are ridiculously fit I spend most of time together on the mountain chasing them.  :)  Their being quicker by a few seconds per mile allows me to run in solitude quite a bit.  This is a great thing for me.  I feel more when I talk less.  This morning I used my time to feel how important friendship is.

This post will apply friendship to my Belief Energy and Core4+2 values in an attempt to determine how the friendship part of Tribe is so incredibly powerful.  The qualities discussed below apply to all my close friendships.

Soul: Solid friendships are rooted in and fueled primarily by Soul.  For me, the soulful roots of a relationship are made of:  loyalty, honesty, compassion,  authenticity, empathy, humor/fun, etc.  Mainly, they are easy to be in.  The magnetism  you have to your closest friends is extremely powerful.  The bond is non judging.  Our instinct to bond with people begins early, maybe even before birth.  We live in the present when with friends.  With them we feel what Tara Brach would call “home”.  We offer one another inspiration and safe haven.  We stoke the heat and intensity of our aliveness when together.  All of this soulful rooting is why it’s so easy to catch up immediately when reuniting with true friends after longs stretches apart.

On our run today- We all three had a soulful desire to wake up at 5:30am to hang together for several hours of “perfect living” on Tam.

My daughter and her best pal after months of not seeing one another. True friendships start early.

Tribe: Our true friends are like kin.  We offer our close friends undying Support and a sense of Home. Relatedness or connection is the goal of most spiritual beings.  It’s a higher calling that we all aspire to…especially when distraction, fear, doubt, anxiety, etc are presenting themselves.  Tara Brach (www.tarabrach.com) has some brilliant things to say about this in her podcasts.  We might not always draw a shared conclusion on big issues with our close friends, however our compassion and empathy for one another allows us to speak the same language…at least long enough achieve shared context.  Even if we land on different sides of an issue or decision, we shared a perspective long enough to arrive at a clear agreement to disagree.  This flexibility and acceptance helps us sustain our bonds for life…even as we and our world change and evolve through time.  Friends of mine are willing to share their honest perspective with me (even if it’s critical).  These are the friends I admire most.  Friends willing to share their genuine “feelings” as well as their “stories” inspire the most loyalty from me.

On our run today- My slightly faster friends were willing to wait up a few seconds at certain places allowing me to catch up.  We celebrated one another’s recent work and life victories openly.  We celebrated our great friendship while taking in the most epic views on the west coast.

My place of Rest in the Keys since 1981. Colorin' chill with Maya.

Health: Close friendships can bring out your best.  The friends that I hang out with the most are always activating my curious mind.  When friendship is real, your most genuine curiosity is engaged when speaking with them:  “oh, yeah…what did you do then?   or “sweet, what was that like?”   or “Tell me more about how your folks are doing”  or “How’s the new job going?” or even “I’m sorry to hear about the breakup.  How are you holding up on the inside?” These are the questions we ask our closest pals.  Curiosity comes naturally with true friends.  We let our guard down and let love lead.  We shelve our story-self for the moment.  Our mind and ego-self can be quite devious.  It asks questions with an ulterior, self-serving motive.  This approach has no place in close friendships.  Save that for “networking” events.  Yikes.

My close friends inspire me to be a better athlete, father, professional, etc etc.  I surround myself with world-class people, change agents, people with soul-shine, people that choose honesty and heart over ego, over-achievers in a hugely diverse range of environments.  My close friends understand the importance of the Surge and Rest in all life areas .  Many of my close friends are true inspirations.  They’re the great athletes, dads, business leaders, thinkers, artists, social change agents, etc. of this world.  This inspires me to Surge harder in my Core4+2 living areas.  I find that most of my close friends also respect the Restful moments in life:  Grabbing a beer and a game, camping away from the grid, hiding out at their vacation places, mellowing out for a day of yardwork now and then, meditating regularly, etc.  This quality of my friends reminds me to get away to my relaxing paradise in the Florida Keys as much as I can. Every surge requires a corresponding rest.

On our run today- We allowed our inspired curiosity to carry us into some good discussions and stories.  We surged up hours of steep hills, but paused or stopped at every incredible summit for a rest.  Breathtaking summit examples:  The top of Coastal Trail overlooking Stinson Beach, the Mill Valley from Mountain Home in, the view of the entire area from the East Peak (see my post called “BeEnergy Running” http://beliefenergy.com/?p=126 to see a picture from what we call “the pulpit” located near the East Peak summit.  This view is a visual that people I know attach to their version of Belief Energy so that they can feel a surge everytime they see it or summon it to their mind’s eye.  Perfect Living on Marin mountains.

Men of Action (Me, Tuck, Ced, Tom) in Yosemite. What a trip.

Action: The Man of Action approach pursued by many of my close friends is inspiring and motivating.   It’s a great thing to have in common with them.

The Roles in friendship are every shifting.  This flexibility is made possible by the Soul aspects of your closest friendships.  This aspect of a friendship has to be build on bedrock.  I’ve been a father figure to several of my best friends in challenging times.  I’ve also needed complete acceptance and care-taking from my friends before.  Whether you’re the comedian in a friendship, the counselor, the brother, the coach, the trainer, etc just know that being mindful of what that role is can benefit your friendships greatly.  The part comes easily in friendships because it’s naturally inspired.  You embody what’s needed in the friendship on instinct as much as anything else.  Spending a few seconds thinking consciously about the role you play in relationship or addressing that role if you know it’s drifting away from your shared values can be very helpful.  It tightens the bonds with the friends we love.

Lots of my friends’ values (their version of Belief Energy and Core4+2) are compatible with mine.  The older I get the more I magnetize to people with a similar life approach.  I’m a “word-straddler” (thanks for this phrase, Steve Wright), so the manifestation of my friend’s values take very diverse forms.  My friend group spans all orientations, ethnicities, geographic, socio-economic categories and ages, but the core of all of them is rooted in what’s discussed in this post.  One of my friend’s version of Belief Energy is “Mission” & “Family”.  We don’t agree on everything and our personalities are quite different, but I completely honor and understand his values.  Another friend’s version of Belief Energy is “Growth” and “Love”.  I love the fact that he’s a hot-shot technology executive, but keeps things rooted in an unselfish and enlightened code of values.  I especially love that I’ve been able have a conversation with these friends to know what their top and happiness & success creating values are.

I find that I’ve bonded the most with friends that I’m teaming with on a Mission. Missions go deeper into soul then mind or action-only pursuits that most of the world is satisfied basing their agendas and Goals on.   For example, building out the salesforce.com Foundation with 20 intelligent colleagues from around the world was more then a business mission, it was a family.  A family mission that is creating enabling significant social change in the world today.  Many true friendships were formed during that Soul and Action informed endeavor.  We’ll build the same thing at Linkedin.  Something tells me their culture has an authentic for a Belief Energy mindset.  Enabling transformation for their clients and staff seems very important to them from to C-suite down.  I know for a fact that the nonprofit sector is mission-driven and is fueled by it’s own version of Belief Energy and collaboration, not just pleasure or recognition seeking (ego-based) Action.

On the run today: We had a mission to run to the most beautiful summits on the best trails on Tam for several hours.  Our role was to support and entertain one another and catch up on everyone’s amazing life progress.  We were men of action covering 16 steep miles of trail.  We’re now back with the families we love, still buzzing from a morning or friendship and perfect (slightly painful) living.

In conclusion, we get to chose who our friends are.  How exciting is that.  Being mindful of the power of friendship and the shared values it’s rooted in is a good thing to be.  It’s friendships that got me into trail-running.  It’s friendships that have brought me most of my career opportunity (especially the best ones).  Thanks Tucker.  Thanks Glenn.  Thanks Nate Bride.  Don’t underestimate the importance of respecting and investing in friendship.  They offer and serve a very important purpose.

Assignment: Journal about a few your closest friends (formed in the distant or recent past).  What makes the relationships special?  What would you guess your friend’s version of Belief Energy would be?  What would their Core4+2 be?  Are their values similar to yours?  What roles do you serve for them?  What roles do they serve for you?  Wipe one thing off your calendar this week and host a heartfelt call or bite to eat with with a close friend.  Celebrate the unbelievable power source your tribe provides!

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