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PRODUCT.|PHILOSOPHY.|LIFE.

The importance of the tribe


When humans were still hunter-gatherers, more than ten thousand years ago, we lived in tribes. A tribe was a group of people that lived together. Some members of the group were responsible for hunting and bringing in food, others were responsible for gathering food and stones and wood and some others were responsible for caring for and protecting the young.

Everyone in the tribe had a role. Something was expected of everyone in terms of what their contribution to the tribe would be. It could be anything from the wisdom of the terrain and predators that the old contributed to the athleticism and energy of the alpha males that led the hunts and brought in food.

If an alpha male didn't feel like hunting and wanted to try his hand at growing crops instead, even though that would be later discovered to be more beneficial for the tribe, such a male would cease being alpha as the tribe would scoff at any crazy ideas about sowing and watering seeds. So the alpha males would hunt.

Even today, the actions we take are determined almost entirely by our tribe. While it is perfectly normal for two people of different religions to marry each other in many parts of the world, it is still not a commonly accepted thing in many parts of India.

It isn't right or wrong, it's just what the tribe values. And any member of the tribe that doesn't value what the tribe values will be an outcast.

At work, it could be ideas on how teams should be structured and how much responsibility and autonomy should be given to individuals and teams. While some companies find it perfectly normal to give teams and individuals complete autonomy to do their work the way they want, some others find it perfectly normal to mandate work hours and have employees punch in and out of the office to clock their hours.

It isn't right or wrong, it's just what the tribe values. And any member of the tribe that doesn't value what the tribe values will be an outcast.

The best part about today, however, is that each of us have the freedom to choose what tribes we wish to belong to. And to even have a go at starting our own new tribes with our own set of values. It is a lot easier to do today than it was twenty, fifty and hundred years ago, no matter where you are in the world.

As Peter Parker's uncle tells him, "With great power comes great responsibility."

While we have the great power to decide what tribes we belong to and what values we wish to have, we have to exercise great responsibility in choosing the right set of values and the right tribes to belong to.

Because what we are is determined by what our tribe is.

(Thoughts in my head after watching Hotel Mumbai - a movie based on the attacks in Mumbai on November 26, 2008)

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