Belonging & Aloneness

According to Brene Brown, our level of belonging requires times when we are willing to stand up and be our most authentic self, even if that means saying the hard thing, and being willing to be the lone wolf setting a new path or clarifying a truth. It takes a wild heart, a Yes-& heart — tough and tender, brave and vulnerable. One that requires us to, sometimes, stand alone.

“True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.” This is based in a spiritual practice or belief that we are all connected. In her new book, Braving the Wilderness, she takes her work on vulnerability and shows us how we need openness — and each other — in order to cultivate true belonging in our communities, organizations, and culture.

As we look at our world today, we keep defaulting to information, activities, entertainment and even live/work choices that keep isolating us from each other — especially those who are the least like us. Research continually demonstrates how much we self-select our own echo-chambers of like-minded people, continuously sorting ourselves into neighborhoods and work that match our own world view I get this. I live in Santa Cruz CA, work for an agency that is centered on purpose and spend my days helping corporations find, live and tell their purpose-beyond-profit, their contribution to society. Many of these companies are waking up to the reality that the world is literally on fire and all of us have a collective responsibility to action.

Which puts visionary executives and consultants in a lonely place of being the voice in the room that speaks for something other than profit. For saying the hard truth about the need to step up even further. To be bold in setting a course that accepts responsibility for the creative destruction needed to reinvent a business line or manufacturing process.

I am still surprised when I find a person inside the corporation who sees the world the way I do. Who really gets that we are at a significant crossroads and all of us need to be all in. It makes me feel less alone in the work.

According to Sebastian Junger in his book, Tribe, we have lost our connection to the deep truth about who we are as a species — tribal. We’re now living in a culture with values that are antithetical to who we really are as members of the human tribe. In reality, humans have survived as a species precisely because, and especially in times or grave danger, we have valued cooperation rather than competition, affinity rather than alienation, and a spirit of sharing rather than one of rugged individualism.

I believe that we are seeing the rise of this realization, as part of the rise of the feminine. The rise of cooperation and collaboration. Of creativity. As we face the challenge of strong-man regimes, climate chaos, the diaspora of displaced environmental refugees, we will need our tribal connection — one that is true across the entire globe and not isolated in countries or villages — to come together with and for each other.