Tribe of Belonging
Sebastian Junger wrote a book I read recently called Tribe. The whole premise behind the book is that in today’s society people are living longer, wealthier, safer, and healthier lives than ever before; and yet there is a huge piece missing from the majority of people’s lives on a deep human level. The truth is that in today’s society depression and suicide are at an all time high and the underlying reason behind this is a lack of a deep sense of true human belonging.
Junger references in his book many disasters in the world that when psychologists studied the people who survived and endured during those disasters (think the London Blitz, Hurricane Katrina etc) there was a greater state of mental health and resiliency among the people. One would think that during times of high stress the mental health and resiliency among the people victim to this disaster would suffer and plummet. Yet, what Junger discusses is that during these times our nature as human beings is to connect and to create belonging to face our adversity with strength and clarity of mind and spirit.
So, I know what you’re thinking, what’s the point Courtney? The point is that what we saw this weekend at our In-House Competition is exactly what Junger poses our society is desperately in need of. A tribe of people who enable all of us to fulfill and flourish with a need of deep human belonging.
CrossFit has this amazing ability to create this belonging and deep friendship connection amongst people who were strangers mere months before. I believe I have identified a few reasons why CrossFit is the keystone for this amazing phenomena.
Vulnerability is the Cover Charge
CrossFit demands vulnerability in order to thrive. Athletes will be unable to improve and grow if they are not willing to be vulnerable and identify their weaknesses and work on them consistently. If a person is not willing to risk and take chances in workouts they will be unable to progress. What CrossFit does is it takes this incredibly scary concept of vulnerability and it makes it the norm. Everywhere you look someone is modifying a movement, breaking a skill down to a basic drill, missing a lift, laughing about a mistake, and having those honest conversations about what their RX will be today. Very rarely in today’s society is there ever such a large amount of vulnerability being demanded from an individual on a daily basis and it is critical to CrossFit being able to create this real sense of belonging among us.
It Humanizes Our Idols
Every day you can get on the internet and watch Rich Froning fall down the rope at the CrossFit Games to lose 1st place. You can watch Kara Saunders have to withdraw from what was turning out to be almost a dominant podium performance due to an injury. CrossFit does not hide the shortcomings of the elite. Every person can come to CFB every day and watch their classmates struggle and fail. It not just humanizes the super elite sponsored athletes- it makes it ok. It accepts human abilities and understands. So many of us operate our day to days in a state of craving perfection and all that does is dehumanize us and separate us from finding connection. CrossFit not only encourages connection, it demands it by requiring us to understand limitations and setbacks and view them positively as our journey to become the best versions of ourselves.
All this talk about tribe and the commitment we have to community may seem a bit odd to be coming from a gym. The truth is that what we focus on at CrossFit Bear is our community. We want that true sense of belonging to be felt by everyone who enters our doors and we want that connection to reach to even the drop-ins who stop by for a Saturday workout. Why is this our focus? It is our focus because at CrossFit Bear we want to change the world. We want to be the catalyst for humble, hungry, and happy human beings everywhere and we want our members to fill that void that Junger points out is missing in so many societies today. We want belonging and connection because it’s the magic that our world needs!