I recently attended a meeting at work with two judges, one prosecutor, one defense attorney, and two probation officers. They were telling the federal offender population I serve about a Second Chance program which offers them a support team comprised of the aforementioned individuals who would meet with them every two weeks for about a year and provide guidance and resources to aid their reintegration into society after incarceration. Their allies would be composed of unexpected people.
At first mention, the offenders were suspect of the group members. Afterall, aren’t they the ones that pointed the finger, convicted them and locked them up? Well now, that’s a matter of perspective. This is where we would have to throw our biases out the window and take a risk. If we play the blame game and refuse to budge, we’ll probably rule out potential supporters.
We can choose to surround ourselves with folk who will propel us forward or with those who will say what we want to hear and remain stuck. We need people that will challenge our faulty thinking and steer us in the right direction. We need a fellowship of people that believe in our capacity to change and succeed.
And if we want real and lasting change, we need persistence. We need accountability. We need good examples around us. Especially if we’ve been going around in circles for a long time.
We need people who will teach us that sometimes we have to face the consequences and that it won’t be pretty. We need cheerleaders who will encourage us to keep going even if we get snagged, veer the wrong way or just plain fall flat on our face. We need people who will not give up on us when we’re giving up on ourselves.
And once we’re strong enough and become who we hope to be, we must become part of a tribe for someone else. We owe it to each other. Because along the way, we’ve all crossed paths with people who have lifted us up, who have shaken us awake, and who have loved us hard.
Let’s pick an unlikely tribe to walk our journey with us and if we’re feeling adventurous, we’ll let them pick us. Either way, it’s really not about what we want, it’s about what we need. And let’s not be quick to rule people out of our inner circle. When you expect the unexpected you invite a secret array of colorful people to surround you. That is your tribe.