We all want to feel like we belong. Creating a business where that feeling is constantly challenged is tricky, but something we can’t ignore. How do you create something where people feel like they can be themselves, like they have a community … like they belong?
“Everyone is … *fill in the blank*. “ We’ve all said those words. It usually sounds something like this …
Everyone is super smart, driven and competitive. (How I felt when I first got to business school.)
Everyone is young, cute and super trend forward. (How I felt when I first got to Target.)
Everyone is fast, fit, skinny and young. (How I feel when I go to a fitness class in New York.)
The natural extension of this sentence is … “And I am not those things, so I don’t belong.” Why do we ruin it for ourselves?
Belonging is a fundamental human need. Feeling that we belong helps us get the most joy out of life, cope with setbacks, and keeps us motivated to continue to improve on our journeys. Studies suggest that a strong sense of belonging even makes us healthier.
There are two ways to belong: Acceptance and exclusion. To be accepted as a member or a part of something. Or, sadly, some seek belonging by excluding others. This reflects the idea that there must be those who don’t belong in order for there to be those that do. We have all experienced both. And because we’ve all experienced both, we carry the fear of not belonging with us into new situations.
Belonging is a word I think a lot about, especially as it relates to my business. Fitness is a very vulnerable place for most of us, so we set out to look for ways we are similar instead of focusing on how we are different. If you are part of our community at Fly Feet, you know that we are all united under two simple ideologies:
1. We are all chasing the best version of ourselves.
2. We all have different abilities, but the one thing we all share is our willingness to work hard.
We are deliberate about building community around these two things. We try and reflect it in everything we do. We still have work to do, but the point is as humans sometimes we hold ourselves back from trying new things because we assume that somehow we won’t fit in. But actually, if you walk into new situations assuming that everyone is just doing their best, and humans are generally accepting creatures, we’ll end up living a much more fulfilled life.
How do we create a place people feel a part of? Where are we ruining it for ourselves because we’re holding ourselves back from trying something new for fear we won’t belong? How does that behavior spread? How can we come together during a time in our world where it seems everything is divided? Belonging is a powerful concept. I believe that these are the questions as business leaders, as parents, as citizens of the world, that deserve our attention.