I’m heading away this week for some serious “tribe” time.
Tribe time for me involves a road trip that includes four days of golf, a few too many drinks, and the chance to “talk rubbish” with some mates. I’m sure that there’ll be inappropriate jokes; some tall tales told; myths will be busted; and legends will be created.
Since retiring from full-time work – which for me means no longer going into an office – finding my tribe has become a really important part of my life. When you no longer go to work, you have a lot of hours in the day to fill. And men, like me, who are not natural communicators, need to work hard at establishing relationships and pushing themselves out of their comfort zones to find new friends.
I used to work 12 hours a day which meant “my tribe” was mainly made up of my work mates, simply because I spent so much time with them. Some of them were people that had known me for 30 years, others were people that I had known for 30 days. As in any workplace, people come and go, but like-minded souls were always drawn together.
When I was at home, I was at “home” with my wife. Comfortable. Safe in the knowledge that she never judged me, she accepted me for all my many faults – and those few things that she tells me I manage to do right. When I was at work though, my workmates and I would bond over sharing our successes or picking apart our failures. We’d laugh together, lunch together, and even sometimes cry together.
Finding your tribe means finding the people that you can easily connect with. The people – male or female – that you feel comfortable with. The people who genuinely put a smile on your face without trying too hard, and a spring in your step. They listen to you, they offer advice, and they usually stop you in your tracks when you are about to stuff up. Or at least they tell you you are about to stuff up. Studies show that forming strong social connections can increase life expectancy by helping us better handle stress, reducing the risk of mental health issues such as depression, and – if your tribe has a sporting bent – then it can help improve your physical health.
Meeting new people means that we learn things, our perspectives often change, and our view of the world is naturally broadened. Forging new friends – at any age – can also add a sense of achievement and joy to our lives. You may in fact share something in common with your new friends. But that’s not essential. What is crucial is that they are able to be open and honest with you.
It’s also okay to have several tribes at once. Being multi-tribal is not like cheating. People are complex and I think they often have a need to exist in more than just one tribe. And, of course, over time your tribe will change – and that’s perfectly OK.
Here are some things I’ve learned. It takes time to get to know people. First impressions are important, but they can also be misleading. So be prepared to cut and run if you find, over time, that your new friendship is not working out for you. It’s better to be cruel than kind, sometimes. And you have to be bold. You have to put yourself out there to make new friends. People won’t miraculously find you, you have to work at it.
That often means sending the first text, or picking up the phone and asking someone if they want to have a cup of coffee and a chat. So what does a tribe do? My golfing tribe is Nomads Australia. And I’ll be joining more than 100 golfers who will be heading to the NSW Central Coast for the Nomads Australia National Tournament at Kooindah Waters this week.
There are 31 golfers from Brisbane, 11 from New Zealand, seven from Perth, three from Southern Africa, 15 from the Sunshine Coast. 26 from Sydney North and 10 from the Sydney South club. A lot of golf balls will be lost. A lot of laughs will be had. And a lot of money will be raised for charity. Nomads Golf started in South Africa before spreading across the world. It came to Australia 20 years ago in Sydney and since then four other chapters of the club have started around the country. Golf is just one part of the Nomads’ equation. An important part, but it’s not the most important. The two main goals of the club are to raise as much money as possible for charity and to support the furtherance of junior golf.
So far, we have raised well over $1 million that has gone towards helping different charities. Not everyone is over 60 in Nomads, but there are many older guys who, like me, have retired. When I was living in the UK, I travelled down from Aberdeen to Birmingham to play with the UK Nomads in their National Gold Cup championships. The welcome they afforded me was amazing. I was from another part of the world. An Australian who had never met any of these lads. I was only there for one game, they probably were never going to see me again after that weekend. But they welcomed me with open arms. I was a Nomad. They were Nomads. We were all Nomads – part of the same tribe.
And that’s what Nomads do. And that’s what joining any tribe should be like.