Do you remember the first time you swung on the monkey bars? I definitely do— it was a short-lived adventure. My little legs jumped out and my still-growing arms stretched long as I reached for the bar. My flailing legs painted the clearest picture of my determined but uncertain spirit. The ground feeling infinitely far from my tiny tennis shoes, I was reaching for anything that I could find. I wanted the next bar, but in this time of desperation I was grasping for anything that would bring stability.
I feel like this is how we begin to look when we skip over one of the most primary of all needs— the need to belong. When we don’t have belonging to stabilize our wobbly feet, our legs begin to flail and our hands find themselves reaching for the closest sense of love. We don’t have to look hard to find a desperate search for love within our own culture.
This understanding hit me hard about three years ago on a simple drive around my hometown. As a 20-year-old who had just dropped out of college to work full time at a fast-growing startup, I quickly found myself overwhelmed. In fact, this was the very thing that landed me at home for a last-minute trip. I suddenly realized I needed to gain space and process all that was speeding by.
Long drives and longer conversations are a love language within my family. So, naturally, my mom and I hopped in the car as soon as I got home. With no clear destination, we drove. I’ll never forget this particular drive because we were 30 minutes down the road before my mom could even inch a word into the conversation. I was firing one question after the next as I wrestled with whether or not I should leave my current position.
My words were taking me in circles as I tried to decide if I should take yet another giant leap of faith. I felt the calling to start a new company and I couldn’t seem to shake it.
What stood out to me in this particular drive with my mom was how peaceful she was in the midst of my ramble which must have sounded like a podcast of 5x speed. When I finally stopped long enough to catch a breath, I asked her how she was so calm in the midst of all of my confusion. It was as if none of my messy conversation caught her by surprise. Her response was simple. This winding conversation had been happening since the day I found my voice. My mom explained that the questions I was asking from my carseat at 18 months old were simply the first expressions of who I was meant to be today— a creator, a leader, an entrepreneur.
Carseat to drivers seat, my head still runs the same fast-paced questions round and round. I sleep with a notebook beside my bed every night because it’s rare to not wake up with an idea. Before the sun comes up, you can usually find me putting my latest ideas onto paper. My brain is continually observing and reworking potential around me, challenging what is for the sake of what could be.
Since diving into start-up world as a teenager, it might feel appropriate for my writings to fall under titles such as: “5 Ways to Start a Company” or “10 Lessons for Young Entrepreneurs”. These are definitely lessons I have learned, but I believe enough of this content exists. Arguably, too much of this content exists. Instead of writing another self-help piece, I felt the nudge to go deeper into what feels like the important foundation of it all.
When I ask myself what pulls me home in these overloaded moments, I realize that it’s more than just a comfortable drive on familiar roads. When the lists feel long and life has piled itself high, I am pulled back to the one place where I know my most basic needs to be met. When I am home, I know I am loved and I know I belong. My family brings a sense a deep love and true belonging.
Our two basic human needs are simpler than most think:
1. To belong
2. To be loved
As a young leader, I have cannot deny the benefit held within skill-based learning. However, I have quickly realized without a deep sense of belonging this growth is unstable. To pile on skills without a sense of belonging is to plant seed into hardened soil. My belief is that God wants to use each of us to lead, but my deeper belief is that He first desires for us to belong. We were always intended to pour out from a deep overflow.
Belonging as a leader is to understand that what you do is not who you are. Who you are has been purposed since before you were born — and your purpose is to challenge the present for the creation of a better future. What you do is an outflow of this deeply rooted identity.
The belonging and ultimate success of your soul is not a “monkey bar life”. We were never meant to live a life of frantic swings and sways. Belonging is walking with our feet on solid ground; feeling the strength below us and around us. Respect, trust, and communication of our purpose will produce our passion. Depth in community and the trust of those who surround us creates endless energy and boundless strength to fuel our days. This is the essence of community.
“By yourself you're unprotected. With a friend, you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn't easily snapped” Ecclesiastes 4:12
My challenge to you – focus on the depth of belonging in your life so that you can be used as a tool of love in our world. Then, begin to lead. Ask yourself first and then a friend: “What do you believe is impossible? But if it could be done, what would this ultimately change?”
With a passion to communicate the connection between the current reality and future potential of those around her, Caroline Beckman has been an entrepreneur within the wellness industry since her teenage years. Caroline is the youngest of three born and raised in Sacramento. She currently spends her time between Los Angeles and your local airport terminal, is a part of Zoe Church, and will join you for any adventure by the ocean.