How strong is your need for significance and how much of it can you fulfill through belonging? Could this be a weakness or one of your inspiring strengths?
We all need to have a feeling of belonging, don’t we? Starting with being a baby, right through to when our innings is over. Think about all the different groups or clubs or associations or organizations – formal or informal – you have belonged to. And think about how your actions might sometimes (or even often) be driven by your need or sense of belonging. Something bigger than just ourselves.
Belonging – What’s The Big Deal?
I was in Brisbane for a speaking engagement recently and walking very early in the morning in Victoria Point along the beautiful coast on Saturday morning. While being passed by many of joggers, I noticed that a number of them wore the same coloured singlet. When I got to the ferry crossing car-park, there were about 20 of them chatting in a group, all in the same colours, obviously belonging to a group or club. Now each one of them could have run that route themselves, why would they join a group to do that together with others? Belonging.
One of the greatest examples of people needing to belong is the broad religious movement around the world, where people have a need to belong to a church. In Melbourne, the home of Australian Rules football, you could be forgiven for thinking that belonging to the various AFL clubs could be likened to a religion…. Think of all the other groups or organizations or clubs that we all seem to belong to: sports clubs (as a player or a fan), societies, rescue squads, clubs like The Australian Club, golf clubs or garden clubs, community service organizations, institutions or institutes, professional bodies, network organizations, political parties, the list can seem to go on endlessly, can’t it?
Would you agree with me that whilst such memberships provide a range of options and benefits, a large consideration towards joining is to “belong” to something successful, enjoyable, bigger than ourselves?
Isn’t it interesting how much we need to belong? Why might we do that?
Your 6 Human Needs
According to Super-coach Anthony Robbins, “we are all driven by the need to fulfill six human needs basically. These 6 basic human needs are not just desires or wants, but profound needs which serve as the basis of every choice we make”.
1. Certainty. This is the need for security, comfort and consistency
2. Uncertainty. This is need for variety, challenges,
3. Significance. The need to feel important, needed, wanted and worthy of love
4. Love and Connection. The need for feeling connected with and loved by other human beings.
5. Growth. The need for constant development emotionally, intellectually and spiritually
6. Contribution. Giving beyond ourselves and giving to others.
Belonging – The Social And Professional Spectrum
So what does that mean?
For all the above drivers, people need to find acceptance, affinity, association, attachment, inclusion, kinship, loyalty in their interaction with others. For me the concept of “belonging” runs across all or most of them.
Think about your schools days. There was always a perceived informal “social pecking order”, wasn’t there? Groups you were a member of and outgrew, groups you were welcomed into or couldn’t get into; groups you wanted to belong to and others you avoided; groups you had influence in and others you didn’t; groups you aspired to. Think about your business or workplace. Doesn’t the same still happen there? They all provide us the opportunity and the choice of belonging.
Apart from serving a specific professional purpose, like The Project Management Institute serving to set, raise and maintain professional standards for project managers they provide their members the opportunity to interact and network, leveraging their skills and contacts. An important part of belonging. However, there is also an image attached to that belonging. We all want to be part of a successful team; to belong to it; to contribute to it; to draw benefits from it.
I remember joining the young men’s service organisation Round Table (Apex in Australia). It served to help young professional men in their development and networking while contributing their resources and skills to community service. It was a privilege to be invited to join and for me made a huge difference in my leadership skills development. In my job where I was designated “the boss” my people had to carry out what I asked. In a leadership role in the service organisation I was leading volunteers who could (and did) refuse. I had to learn to convince them and influence them towards the outcomes I wanted them and the club to achieve. It was also a great source of fun, friendship and mate ship. Belonging to that group became important and out of the spirit of belonging we were all motivated to undertake some pretty demanding initiatives and drive them through, often at the expense of being with our family. I found that belonging to such a successful undertaking very important to me.
As a leader, it is a major motivational driver to provide and emphasize belonging to and in your team in order for the outcomes you are driving to be good for you, good for them, good for your team and good for the greater good.
One of the biggest success drivers in any sports team is their sense of belonging. The greatest individual star performers placed together in a team without that belonging and mutual will to work together for a collective purpose or outcome usually has no results.
Some Personal Applications
When I need to be walking around the city early in the mornings, I sadly sometimes get to observe homeless people grouped together finding solace for their desperate situation by being together in groups. While their sense of belonging is quite different from the example above, I could imagine it is nonetheless a very powerful “survival bond”.
Parents of teenagers are often concerned about who their adolescent children “hang out with” because the sense of belonging could (and sometimes does) lead to the kind of lesser desirable associations. Whilst each of the youngsters might individually and personally know the longer term futility of some of those associations, their need for belonging can keep them wanting to stay associated anyway, no matter how illegal or irresponsible, can’t it?
Why is it that people often stay in a “bad relationship” or in a job or company they really know isn’t right for them? I have found that it is often the need for belonging that keeps them there. Think back of all the different jobs you have had in your life. How often is it the relationships (good and bad) you developed with the people you worked with that you remember? In hindsight, wasn’t that a form of belonging that might have kept you there longer perhaps than you wanted to or should? I have certainly found that to be the case for me.
Many of you will know about my recent Sabbatical in which I described my working with many different professionals to achieve some great personal breakthroughs. One of those sessions recognized and affirmed the insight that I was at my happiest and most productive whenever I was acknowledged to belong as an integral part of a group (like being in the inner circle). And we were amazed to find how often this was even stronger when I had a strong sponsor (as in feeling to have been “head-hunted”).
I have been able to very positively change a number of situations in my journey as a result of that single, powerful realization. Realizing that working from a home office can be very lonely, it strongly suggested how much better I feel and operate when I put myself amongst people – particularly positive and uplifting ones that like me, are “going somewhere”. I am also much better able to seek and find such powerful relevance’s for and with my clients that enables more significant breakthroughs for their journeys.
So what if such a breakthrough might help you better leverage where you belong, how you belong and getting into the “inner circle” of where you aspire to belong, but don’t yet belong? What if you had a coach alongside you that could help you find such opportunities and guide you and then hold you accountable to achieve such significance of outcome that you really aspire to? What if you could?
Go on, why not contact me and Let’s Talk Coaching?