Fielding My Tribe

I love to sit in meetings and field a team. If it’s a smaller meeting with a mix of people I do and don’t know, I’ll just determine who I want for a flag football team. Easy enough. It’s not difficult for me to peg a great defensive tackle or crafty wide receiver. Not much more to picking this team than looking for athleticism, a little endurance, a good attitude and a willingness to have a good time.

If, however, the meeting is bigger and I’m encircled with strangers, I prefer to up the ante and imagine I’m stranded on a deserted island with a group of people and we have a finite amount of time to escape if we want to survive.

Time to pick my tribe.


This is no joke and must be treated as such. At this point, I will mentally check out of the meeting and embark on a mission to assess the strengths and weaknesses among the group. I will begin to decipher, to the best of my ability, who would surprise or disappoint me. I enter a world of scouting out skills, strengths, hidden talents, stamina, attitude and desire.

Only an amateur would think this could be done by looking at physiques, current position or hierarchy. No. Sometimes the lowest person on the career totem pole is actually the only one in the entire tribe who could squat for hours on end, rubbing sticks together for fire without having a total meltdown. I’ve even been in meetings where a senior admin or detail assistant was my number one pick, based on what I perceived to be an invaluable ability to set up camp efficiently and dole out rations, without fanfare or need for recognition.

Most often, the leader of the meeting or the one who has the floor is not anywhere in my line-up. Deep down I know that she has grown soft and lost the necessary skills to actually survive. She’s accustomed to merely sounding knowledgeable, rather than being a true expert. She’s become dependant on delegating; however, underneath it all, her house is a wreck, her children are terrors and her husband is getting loved on once every two months, begrudgingly. This is not a woman I want in my tribe.

We’ll have many needs as a stranded people. Basic survival skills are incredibly important, but so are brains, logic, attitude and determination. I never know what kind of challenges my tribe will face during our unknown time on the island, so I’ll need to assemble a cornucopia of talent that can handle any task.

I like to believe I have the ability to spot people’s hidden talents. I have thought more than once, “I bet that lady can spear a fish with acute accuracy.” It is not uncommon to imagine that a particular woman could survive on very little sleep while maintaining the focus of an elite quarterback in the 4th quarter, down by 14. I realize these are gifts that many others don’t posses and I’m thankful I can peg the babies of the group and the brats who wouldn’t step up when faced with adversity or even death.

Another thing to consider is body temperature. This one is tricky. Sure, the island is tropically comfortable by day, but it’s bitter cold at night. I’ll need a group that is well-balanced with cold-and hot-natured people. About the only way to assess this is by looking for people doing extreme things in a temperature-regulated conference room. The lady who is fanning herself with a notepad will be a problem during the heat of the day, but an asset at night, as people can warm themselves next to her. The woman who has on a cardigan but is still hugging herself and rocking rhythmically will be comfortable during the day and have an excess of energy to use towards being productive. She will be a go-getter and not off in the shade for hours trying to cool herself. The importance of balancing these types of people cannot be measured, yet a rookie might overlook it and end up with a vastly insufficient tribe.

Let’s discuss smarts. I’m extremely careful about the I.Q.’s I choose. Inevitably there will be people I lean towards because I know and enjoy them, but I make absolutely sure I’m using my head more than my heart. If I pick a dim light, she could very well end up covered in poison ivy, rendering her virtually useless for a few precious days. Imagine the travesty of her becoming overjoyed by the abundance of coconuts, realizing all too late that they’re a natural laxative. Nothing puts someone out of commission like foolishly tanking up on a diuretic. Therefore, in scanning the room for possible tribemates, I try to remember that the person I love to discuss American Idol with may also be the one who will drink salt water.

Here are a few random things I’m mindful of as I scan potentials. When I see a self-soother—someone massaging her own hands, knees or ears—I promptly place her in the yes column. She is self-sufficient and she is a survivor. Additionally, I always choose one or more of the rare guys attending the meeting. More than likely he’ll have a utility knife (and tweezers, bottle opener and wrench) as well as natural strength and an innate ability to hunt and keep watch for a good portion of the night. I never pass up a male tribemate—ever.

I’ve come to grips with the fact that some bug eating will take place. Marooned folks never know what fruit or berries the island will offer and bugs are a wonderful source of protein—something everyone will need in order to maintain the energy to escape. Because of this disgust-inducing fact, I make sure not to choose anyone too girlie or easily grossed out. No one wants to eat bugs, so the last thing I need is someone squealing “Eww! Eww!” and recoiling in horror as I reluctantly chomp on a beetle’s thorax.

I have been in meetings where I knew the group I assembled would make it out alive—whether from an exotic island in Fiji or snake island in Brazil. But I’ve also had to choose from inferior groups where I did the best I could with what I had and still knew in my heart of hearts we would perish. I do not leave those meetings with a good feeling—or with any idea what the meeting was about.

I’d love for you to join me on Facebook … it’s good for your health.

0 thoughts on “Fielding My Tribe

  1. Don’t forget that obsessively neat people will crater in the sweat and gunk on an island. A good tribe member can live with unmatched clothes and dirty socks – even underwear, for that matter.

  2. This entire thing is absolute gold and at this point: “I’ve come to grips with the fact that some bug eating will take place” I was falling OUT! Lol!

  3. This has always been my favorite!! For the record though, I wouldn’t do well with unmatched clothes and lets be real, the thought of unironed clothes makes me anxious. But I am a self soother, so don’t count me out yet. 🙂

    1. Not counting you out! Though we’ll have to figure out an iron clad plan for regulating your body temperature.

  4. So good! I too am a self soother but I sometimes jet between bursts of energy and wanting a nap. I’m concerned I would be the one binging on coconuts and salt water and choosing a slow death over eating bugs…

  5. Hmmmm so where would I fit in on the island? Would I be the one coordinating who hunts for food on which day?

  6. Love it! I would be the one fanning herself at the table because with all my body fat, I sweat profusely all the time………….but I’m also the self soother…………..anywho, great job! You had me at “a willingness to have a good time.”

  7. Ok, I’ve just decided we’re kindred spirits. I published a column years ago about a game I always played in college classes. I would pretend that there had been a nuclear explosion and that, somehow, our class had been the only humans to survive. Which meant that the continuation of the human race was entirely up to us. So I would spend the hour thinking about who would be the best choice for me to reproduce with.

    1. Ok, that’s FUNNY. And I love that you were less concerned with survival and more concerned with finding the most suitable options for successful reproduction. Awesome 🙂

  8. All week at work I have been thinking about this post, and especially the line:

    “Most often, the leader of the meeting or the one who has the floor is not anywhere in my line-up.”

    So. True.

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  10. Gonna say I’d hope to land on your tribe lol. Fun and with people analysis skills like that I’d say survival is imminent! I agree FB can definitely be a positive place. It’s all about the fingers of the beholder however 🙂

  11. Totes agree that Facebook can serve as a useful utility for enriching life and bringing together a world community. A fun and tricky tool to master I would liken FB to a welding torch- great for mending things but if not used prudently with discretion folks can get burned. Which is a prelude to a true story blog that I’ll be throwing up soon which just twerked itself into my head…

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