Before I knew what a squad was, I had one. In elementary school, I had a group of six friends who attended the same school—if not sat in the same class—for six years. Fast forward to college, I had a posse. Literally. Eleven of us from NYC were selected to attend college as a team unit, and to have each other’s backs on our four-year journey.
In all the groups I've been a part of, one core principle persisted: "Alone, faster. Together, further." To be a part of a team, you must recognize that while yes you're capable of making moves on your own, you’ll need help to go the distance. After all, life is not a sprint; it's a marathon. So, crew, squad, clique, tribe, posse, team—whatever you call it—we all need one to succeed in the long run. Here are three ways to decide if your squad is good to go.
Do you make each other look good?
I was in the restroom at an event for a friend when I started talking to a stranger about that friend's business. Instinctively, I bragged and beamed with pride about my friend's accomplishments and my belief in her imminent success. At the end of the conversation, the new acquaintance asked me if I did marketing for the business. I didn't. Not formally at least. Little did I know this new restroom friend was a part of the organization hosting the event, and wanted to learn more about becoming a patron.
Do your friends have your front? The people on your team will help make you look good. They know your goals and talk you up to the people they know you need to talk to. They’ll check to make sure there isn't food in your teeth, and that your makeup is well blended before you go on stage or take a pic. Their support is genuine and natural. It’s the people you call your posse who love you and (altruistically) want to see you succeed. Your clique also mirrors you. They show you what they see, the good, bad and great. They represent you as much as you represent them. When you evaluate who you spend most of your time with, ask yourself if your true self is represented and honored.
Do you make each other feel great?
Sometimes I’m way too hard on myself and get lost in my feelings of inadequacy. In these moments I am immediately reminded of my worth and am held up by those closest to me. I also see the people with whom I surround myself, and reason that if I'm numbered amongst them, I too am great.
Do your friends have your back? The people in your squad can be your best partners, counselors, teachers, and cheerleaders. They help keep you standing and push you forward. They understand your shortcomings and your strength. They hype you up when you need that extra boost of confidence but also keep you in check with reality. Not sure if your group makes you feel great? Check yourself first. We get what we give, and if you’re not being present, showing appreciation, or giving love then you will not receive it.
Do you make each other better?
One of the reasons why we find and stick with our tribes is because they make us better people. There’s a like-mindness, a common interest or shared identity that brings us together. But what keeps us together is a mutual benefit: growth. Becoming a better person, whether that’s a kinder, smarter, healthier version of yourself, is the ultimate benefit of having a team.
Do your friends have your side? The people who join you on your journey will have their lanes and you yours. However, a squad consists of people who move in line with each other. They keep you going, and hold you accountable. There is no room for comparison or unhealthy competition in a crew, therefore no one gets left behind, pulled back or tripped up. There's enough space for everyone to win. Your squad is not afraid of your achievements or ambitions. Instead, they create an environment that bolsters your advancement. They inspire you as much as you inspire them. When they move, you move. (Just like that.)