There is strength in a pack.
It is easy to dismiss the importance of community when considering “running your own race”. Yet it is impractical to believe that you can reach your full potential by simply running solo. Having a “pack” – a good community and support system, not only improves what you succeed in, but it impacts how you succeed. The rewards are so much richer when you share them with people you’ve journeyed with.
When running your own race, you have to be mindful as to who you have around you. Do you hang around people who are secretly trying to sabotage your stride? Or do you have friends who are eager to see your success as much as their own? A “pack mentality” recognizes the benefit of running alongside people who have similar goals and values. This ignites a mutual beneficial relationship that can have life changing potential.
Running with a pack does not necessarily mean that your race is collective – it is still very much your own. However, it does mean that your growth can be quickened if you choose to have people of substance in your circle. This can ensure that during your own race, you don’t remain in a rut for too long.
As we get older it becomes increasingly difficult to adjust our inner circles. We may have childhood friends we don’t want to let go of or work colleagues we spend too much time with. However it is important that we are all heading in the same direction, whilst providing support, accountability, motivation and healthy comparison. You do not have to “drop people” because you’re in a different season, but you should regularly assess who gets VIP access to your life.
The way in which you comprise your pack is ultimately up to you. The strength does not necessarily come in the quantity of friends, but moreso the quality of their friendship.
When thinking about choosing members of your pack, consider this:
You should have similar goals and values
It can be painfully difficult to find new friends in your adult years. I did not appreciate this until I moved to the US and was forced to start from scratch. When we are younger, our goals and values are often less complex, making it simpler to find common ground. As we mature, our convictions are richer and our time is limited, so finding a new friend that “gets you” is gold. They may not have the exact same dreams as you, but there should be something in them that resonates with your heart.
Your intention must be pure
Although you should aim to be intentional about who is running with you, your intention must not solely be self-seeking. If your heart is not pure at the foundation of your friendship, it is unlikely to be sustained. You should desire to pour into your pack, as much as you would like them to pour into you.
Your comparison should be healthy
Your pack should spur on healthy comparison. This is not to say that you should covet what people around you have – but that in seeing what they have, you are encouraged to know what is possible. For example, watching others become homebuyers may encourage you as you move towards saving for your own home. Knowing the complexities of running a successful business may encourage you as you develop yours. The comparison is at its healthiest when you are both honest about your journeys.
It works when you’re accountable and consistent
In the Jungle Book, Rudyard Kipling famously writes, “For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack”. This aptly demonstrates the dynamic between individual success and group success. Knowing that your group success is determined by how you show up as an individual can spark the desire for you to be consistent. You may be less likely to skip tasks and more likely to weather storms if you know you have to be accountable.
You should be motivated and encouraged by your pack
The people you have around you should be motivating you to be the best version of yourself. Be weary of those who revel in your misery or downfall. When you’re feeling hopeless, your pack should be encouraging you to press on and push past the rough patches.
You should learn from them
We become like the people we associate with the most. This is why it is essential to expose yourself to people who have the potential to widen your mind in the areas that interest you. Collective wisdom gives you a greater chance of progressing at a quicker pace. In the same way, collective folly decreases your chances of success.
Running alongside others is not just about what you can gain, but what you can give. Here are some things to consider:
- Keep in touch and keep tabs: Don’t let your relationships be a one-way street. Whether texts, calls, emails or letters – make sure you check on someone during different parts of their own race. You have no idea of the power of “how are you?”
- Be reliable: Make sure you can be counted on and trusted. Keep your word as much as you possibly can.
- Push your friends: Always encourage your friends to push to the next level, and then praise them when they have made the effort.
- Suggest new ideas and routines: Take interest in their interests. Pass along podcasts, events, articles and books that may enrich their journey.
- Remind your squad of their goals: This is important when circumstances are less than ideal. You may be the one giving the word that encourages them to press through.