Archive for June 2014

Do you know how you affect your tribe?

Have you ever thought about how you affect your tribe?

Did you even know you have a tribe?

Everyone has a tribe whether you think you do or not. It might be large or it might be small, but everyone has a tribe. The best description of your tribe includes all those you influence or impact. So with that simple definition, you might again say, “I really don’t have a tribe.” But again, I will disagree with you. Everyone has a tribe. Let’s explore the thought and how you influence.

Some personal examples of tribes

I know I have a significant tribe. It waxes and wanes from time to time, but at one point it numbered in the tens of thousands or more. Not because of my own doing necessarily, but because of the positions I held in the military. For three years, I was the senior medical observer-controller at the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) at Fort Polk, Louisiana. Nearly tribe, jrtc, medical, training60,000 soldiers a year trained at that facility in preparation for duties in combat should the need arise, and it did. During my tour there, we prepared units for entry into the Bosnia/Kosovo peacekeeping missions.

Most of the soldiers going through the training remember me as E06. That’s the call sign I used for three years. But E06 influenced medical support and medical training that soldiers learned to save lives in both peacekeeping missions and later in Iraq and Afghanistan. I remember a few of those 60,000 soldiers that came through each year, but many more of them remember me.

The same is true of my time at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. I served my last seven years in the military there. Five of those seven years included responsibility for training a large portion of the officers in all the leadership courses the Army Medical Department teaches and my last three years as Chief of Staff for the entire Center and School. At the time, we graduated some 57,000 students from 227 different courses each year. I remember some of those students, but many more of them remember me. My picture ended up on the wall of many of the training facilities because one of the requirements for military members has always been to know your chain of command. Since I was in it, my picture ended up on the walls everywhere.

Influence can be subtle

Did I influence and impact the students and soldiers? In more ways that I can count. But often in very subtle ways. When they watched me walk through the pavilions or walk across the fields to the parking lot, I influenced them. If I slouched, or stepped over trash, or worse, threw something on the ground, I set a new standard for the organization. If it was okay or me, it was okay for them. If my uniform didn’t meet standards or my hair needed cut, I just set new standards for the unit. I influenced all the people within the organization who saw me, whether I said a word to them or not.

I used to tell the other leaders within the organization, we cannot afford to have a bad day. Every day MUST be a good day for us as leaders. You see if as a senior leader we have a bad day, our executive assistant has a bad day. Then our subordinates have a bad day. Their bad day is passed down to their subordinates and on and on until everyone in the organization has a bad day. So the senior leaders, you see, cannot have a bad day. Some days may be better than others, but they are all good. Why, because of the impact we have on our tribe.

You might still say, “But I’m not a senior leader. I don’t have a tribe.”

Everyone has a tribe

In answer, I would tell you that you influence in some way everyone who sees you and talks to you. You might encourage the checkout clerk with a smile and a kind word instead of the normal crabby comments the clerk hears all day. You might raise the dress code a little in a part of town known for its shabby, ill-kept appearance. You might influence some youngster to walk taller and raise their head higher because they see you doing it as you walk by. It might be just the thing to change the course of their life from gangland to college. You don’t know how you influence or affect people’s lives. But I guarantee that you have a tribe.

The only way you do not have a tribe is if you live absolutely alone. Order everything through the internet. Have everything delivered to an anonymous address that mysteriously moves the packages from their to your house without human intervention. You never use the phone. Never write a letter. Never pay a bill (or taxes). You never have any human contact – ever. Only then can you say you don’t have a tribe. Even then, someone will probably pass by your house and you’ll influence them with their questions of “I wonder who lives there?” And, “I wonder what they do and how they live?” Even questions about you without answers impacts others in some way.

What legacy do you leave your tribe

You influence people. So the topic for you to think about is are you deliberate in what you do to influence others? Do you think about the legacy you want to leave and how your actions influence and impact your tribe? Do you act in a way, all the time, that when others see you, you build on the legacy you want to leave behind? Your tribe is part of your network. Don’t forget them.