People Need to Belong

People need to belong. This inherent need and desire doesn’t mean actually be possessed by someone, but rather be in relationship to and linked to other people. I got to thinking about this the other day when I was talking to someone about selling to different groups of people (we both work in the sport and entertainment industry). We happen to live in a very diverse area where there are many different nationalities and ethnicities of people, where every continent in the world is represented, including many different countries from all continents. Ok, maybe not Antarctica, but wouldn’t it be pretty cool to meet a native Antarctican? Haha – see what I did there…pretty COOL. And is Antarctican the right way to say this? Anyway, moving on.

The Psychological Aspect

The idea that people need to belong has apparently been studied by psychologists for over 100 years, which just goes to show how important and universal this feeling we all have is within us. Some of the research I’ve read has indicated that it all boils it down to the fact that belonging helps us survive. When you belonged to a group or tribe in the ancient times your likelihood of survival was much greater. It meant you had protection from enemies and help looking for food. Being with others meant you were more likely to survive. We still face many threats in our modern society now, however the shape of those threats has changed over time.

The sense of belonging is so strong that Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs indicates a sense of belonging as the third most important aspect of human life right after basic needs such as food, water, clothing and safety. Yeah, the fact that people need to belong is a big deal.

Belonging from a Business Perspective

My thinking about this inherent desire to belong is very closely related to business. In short, the sport and entertainment industry gives people a place to belong. Whatever it is that you’re interested in, you can belong here. At our events, you can belong and be in community with other people who you know you have at least one thing in common. Whether that is a concert, a family show, a sporting event, a banquet, a movie screening, a comedy show, a convention…when you’re here, you belong.

I see this sense of belonging and see the joy it brings to people every time I work an event. When you see people “in their element,” they look different. They smile. They stroll confidently. They jump up and down. They hug and kiss. You can tell they’re having a great time.

Niche Audiences

This is especially true for events that serve a very niche type of audience. I’m thinking specifically of comic book conventions, homebrewing conventions, crossfit competitions, tattoo festivals, dance festivals, political events and other niche events that serve a very specific audience. When these people get together, regardless of the type of things or ideas that bring them together, they feel like they belong to something greater than themselves. You personally may not agree with or engage in these types of activities, but for the people that do, that’s their “it” factor. That’s their zone. That’s where they feel normal and excited to talk and express who they are inside.

It’s probably a little bit easier to see how sports can bring people together…most of the readers of this blog probably know this very well. I wrote about this when the Seahawks went to the Super Bowl a few years ago.

Circling Back

Now think about what your hobbies are or what you get excited about and how you feel when you connect with someone who enjoys or does the same things. For the people that like things that are “different” than say what YOU like or enjoy, they get just as excited about their stuff as you do about your thing. So when it comes time to sell tickets or promote or market an event that’s going down, get excited about it because you’re giving someone a place to belong!

The great part about the work that I do is that I get to be part of an organization that gives people that place to belong. That place to be themselves and with others like them.

We’re all human.

And that makes it all worthwhile.

1% Better Everyday

I once read an interview of an athletics director as introduction to their new university community. The person was someone whom I didn’t know personally, yet respected from a distance for not only their professional advancement, but their commitment to personal integrity and honor. As part of the interview process this person was asked about their philosophy for how they saw the operation was going to proceed under new leadership.

The answer was 1% better everyday.

In a large, established organization, change doesn’t happen quickly and this leader recognized that fact. Change is inevitable, however, and this person also recognized that as well. With the right channeled, controlled change, a little at a time, big changes result. Just a little at a time.

KAIZEN

This approach of getting better 1% everyday at life and work is called Kaizen, a Japanese word meaning continuous improvement.

Seth Godin called it the drip. Drip by drip, a little at a time things change until all of a sudden you realize how different things from when you started.

Both get at the same idea…the fact that big results can come from the small, continuous improvement of something over time. In finance, 1% compounded over time would yield incredible results, even if only for a short amount of time…and remember, you have your entire life ahead of you to start this 1% change in thinking and behavior.

DOUBLE DOWN

Do you recall the “penny” question from middle school or high school math class? If asked if you could have your choice of a million dollars at the end of 30 days or a penny doubled every day for 30 days, which would you choose? There’s not a correct answer, but if you’re going for the most money you should have chosen the compounded penny because that results in almost ten times more money. That’s a big change in a short amount of time.

This approach to self-improvement is not about a destination, it’s about just being better than yesterday and not as good as tomorrow. If you fall short on something, you’re never very far from getting back to where you started if you only focus on the process. If you focus on the process and the daily steps toward getting further along, then your dreams become goals become reality.

1% better everyday. It’s a lofty ideal, but what else do you have? You have today. And that’s good enough for me.

Go Forth.