Our Obsession With Clubs

Membership clubs have been around since ancient times. Ever since civilizations started to form, people had a need to be able to associate with other people that had a common interest. The first known clubs evidenced by Ancient Greek clubs and associations in Ancient Ruji.

Being a member of a club is something that we all seem to strive for. We desire acceptance. I may not be considered qualified to write about clubs since I have never had a strong urge to join clubs. I’ve always been one to consider all people and groups equally, and therefore had a tendency to not actively pursue participation in any one social circle.

Cliques and groups form as early as elementary school. You have the jocks, the future goths, the bullies, the nerds, and the dweebs. Even at 5 or 6 years old, the desire to get the most attention from our peers as possible begins to form. I believe much of this can be attributed to the fact that many parents have trouble providing the attention that children typically want. Considering the reality that children want attention 100% of the time that they are awake, and probably even 50% of the time they are asleep (anyone that has tried to put a sleeping baby down to sleep in their crib knows what I’m talking about here), no wonder parents aren’t able to deliver. It’s an impossible task.

It is only natural that those children that want more attention, and subconsciously feel as though they haven’t received enough from their parents, will strive to get more attention the moment they enter a social setting such as school or day care.

As we grow older, our maturity helps us to understand that certain people will simply just fill the mold required of specific social groups. Those of us with natural athletic tendencies will be subconsciously guided to befriend other naturally athletic people. The same goes for those with a natural love of math or reading or writing. We all desire acceptance and camaraderie, and our instincts tend to guide us down the path that is the best fit for our personalities.

The Ugly Message of “Status”

The natural tendencies of our instinctual gravitation to those of a similar nature as ourselves is overrun by messages proclaiming our current status isn’t good enough, and that we should want more. There are those that are perfectly comfortable being who they are naturally meant to be, and that have no qualm with not being a part of a “bigger” social group. Most people, however, do not fall into this group. Most people have the “grass is greener” syndrome.

“Status” is the ugly monster that drives many negative thoughts and actions. People look at others with supposed higher status, and envy their position in life. An interesting finding I discovered while researching popular wealthy men was that people like Donald Trump, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffett, and the likes all had one thing in common: generosity. Those of us that grow up in lower-income or middle-income households perceive the lives of the wealthy in a different light than the wealthy themselves.

My mom divorced when I was 4. We didn’t have a whole lot of money, and we certainly didn’t consider ourselves anywhere near wealthy. When I was 7, she remarried, marking a dramatic turning point in our lives. We moved, and my new dad was making enough money for my mom to not have to work and for us to live in a two-story house (a lot different than the mobile home we were living in before they were married). I grew up thinking that I would never be wealthy, and perceived money as something that only lucky people got their hands on. To me, being lucky meant that you were either born into money, won the lottery, or had a distant relative or family friend die and for some strange reason leave all of their money to you in an inheritance.

My interest in personal growth has taught me many things, but the primary lesson I have learned is that money is nothing more than a tool. And, being a physical, tangible object, my mind has reduced it to nothing more than a device that can be easily acquired by anyone that understands how. It took me over 10 years to fully grasp this concept, and I am still learning how to apply it on a daily basis. The interesting twist in all of this, however, is that I did not learn how to acquire more in my life until I learned how to understand that what I do for myself isn’t nearly as important as what I do for others in my life.

This is a tough concept for a young adult busting his ass to make just enough money to by peanut butter, jelly, bread, and a box of Ramen Noodles. When I first moved out of my parents’ house at 19, that is exactly where I was. I couldn’t even afford furniture in my first apartment, so I sat on the floor in my living room, and the only reason I had a bed was because I brought the one in my parent’s house with me.

When you are struggling financially, probably one of the most challenging things to attempt is to give and do more for others than for yourself. When I lived in that first studio apartment, all I could think about was what it would take to be wealthy. I wanted the life of Donald Trump. I wanted to be a billionaire. Unfortunately, I believed that because I wasn’t born into money, I would never be there. I decided to learn about how he made his money, and how others like him made their money. Much to my surprise, I learned that most of the wealthy people in this world got there because of two primary things: passion, and drive.

Donald Trump is passionate about commercial development and real estate. He doesn’t see a building; he sees a landmark, and something to share with others. Bill Gates didn’t envision a cool toy for rich people; he saw a powerful device that would be in the hands of everyone on the face of the planet one day.

Passion, and driven commitment to see something through to the end, regardless of the end outcome is what makes men great. Hernán Cortés is commonly referenced as the Spanish conquistador that ordered his men to burn their ships upon landing in Mexico to eliminate any hope for retreat. His plan succeeded because he understood how to ignite the passion and drive of men.

Moving Past Status

In my greatest moment of personal growth, I realized that status meant nothing to those who didn’t take the time to care about it. I have learned that there are actually more happy people who do not subscribe to the ideals presented by status and its representations than there are of people who do. I still struggle with releasing the grips of status, as I still desire fast cars, big houses, and enough money to do whatever the heck I want to. I’m moving past status, though, and realizing what I really want out of this life.

Passion is the fuel that drives any success. Discovering your passion is the first step to success in life. Not getting an education. Not getting a job. Not working for someone else, or even working at all. The first thing that anyone should take the time to learn is what he or she is passionate about. Once they find their passion, they may then start to put an action plan together that will move them beyond status, and into the realm of success.

Join the Right Clubs, For the Right Reasons

I realized at the end of this article that my initial comments on clubs and social groups tended to be more on the negative side. I want to clarify that being a part of a club is absolutely a wonderful thing, if it is the right club for you, and you are member for the right reasons. Don’t join a club because you think it will make you friends. Join a club because you are passionate about the topic of the club and you want to meet other people who possess the same passion.