We all belong to one of 5 tribes, whether we intend to or not. The tribe with which we associate largely determines what kind of success and happiness we can expect out of life. Choose wisely.

All management books are false but some are useful.

Consider Tribal Leadership by Dave Logan and John King.

If you think you need to read the whole book to get what you need out of it, you’re wrong.

The main mental model in this book is that there are a handful of Tribes. Tribes are loose or strong but connected through a defining belief or mantra. At work, we are all part of one of these tribes. These are our teams. Our co-workers. The people we spend ⅓ of our lives around. As such, our overall happiness and life satisfaction is heavily influenced by the tribes we belong to.

  1. The victim tribe. These are the people that believe life sucks, and everything that happens is evidence of this fact. This is about 2% of groups.
  2. The my life sucks tribe. This is when you feel disconnected from your work, its impact, or have a lot of meaningless relationships. This is about 25% of groups.
  3. The I’m better than you tribe. These are cancerous people that infiltrate the lives of those in the other tribes. They are not team players; they think that credit is a finite resource they need to hoard. They believe that knowledge is power and do all they can to get a leg up on others. They create and thrive on malicious drama. These people are the hardest to predict. This is about 49% of groups.
  4. The we’re great but you’re not tribe. This is common and if harnessed can be a source of motivation. The bigger the enemy the more potential this tribe has. People in this tribe are externally driven. It’s about winning and beating some other tribe. People are still full of themselves, but everyone seems relatively happy because they are competing as a team. This is about 22% of groups.
  5. The life is great tribe. As a team this is when you’re focused on intrinsic mission and customers. Think of the mindset as “How are we going to make history?” and not “how are we going to beat them?” People in this tribe are the most productive. This is about 2% of groups.

When you read the list, which group did you want to be in?

While the stats above think of these tribes in the context of overall organizations, that’s a very macro level. Your organization might lean one way and your division or group another. At the same time, we are all of these things at one point or another in our personal life.

But here’s the key point: If you believe that you are the average of the people you hang around then you need to surround yourself with people who are like who you want to be. You need to consider that when it comes to building the life you want opposites don’t attract. Being a miserable grump will only attract other cranky assholes. Someone who is generally disposed to thinking that life is great does not want to hang with someone who whines all the time about how much life sucks.

Attitudes become self-fulfilling. Change your attitude, change the people who are attracted to you, and change your outcomes.

Sam Kyle is the author of The Decision Checklist, which improves your ability to make better decisions.