Looking at the picture above, you might not arrive to the conclusion that I’m necessarily happy. Just to be clear, I’m the homicide detective on the right (not the suspect 😊). In fact, I’m completely ecstatic and elated with joy in this moment! Why? Because I belonged to a group consisting of 20 individuals, who relied upon and needed each other, and was collectively facing challenge, risk, danger, etc. Result; a tribe that was thriving and provided substantive purpose and meaning in my life.
We were the Robbery/Homicide Unit (aka Major Felony) and we were hunting dangerous humans, armed and dangerous to be exact. In my experience, humans are at their best when they are operating in small tight-knit groups, all are contributors to the group and they are bonded by certain conditions (danger, challenge, hardship, etc. – This is what sparks the camaraderie). I’ve seen this play out over and over throughout my 30+ year career. A platoon member in a Marine Unit, a police officer in a special unit, or a team member in a private company (using the right formula of course), this is where the magic happened.
Actually, It’s not magic and it’s no accident. This is how humans lived before modern civilization challenged and suppressed our tribe-like instincts. The key to tapping into this powerful dynamic in business is not so complicated. However, we see a modern society that consist of many people who are unfulfilled and joyless. Even with impressive corporate titles, accolades and finances to boot, some are yearning for that meaning and purpose that only the aforementioned conditions can satisfy. But how do you apply it long-term to a team or group within your business?
1. Adopt techniques that foster and mimic these conditions
2. Create a culture that is genuine, where members feel like they are essential to mission success.
3. Work in groups and give them identity and purpose.
4. Ensure your leaders are selfless and demonstrate ownership of every decision, good and bad.
5. Then unleash the dogs of war! Or… just go out and do great things while having joy and meaning.
P.S. My time as a homicide detective was truly one of the most profound duties I’ve ever had the honor to do. Despite all the wickedness, darkness and tragedy, the opportunity to serve your fellow species in this manner felt like your maker had personally touched your soul out of repletion for your acts.