Walking Through Stage 2: My Life Sucks Tribe

Walking Through Stage 2: My Life Sucks Tribe

June 19, 2023

Walking Through Stage 2: My Life Sucks Tribe

Recognize this? You're surrounded by colleagues who seem stuck in a negative rut, constantly grumbling about work, life, and everything in between. Welcome to what organizational health experts call the "Stage 2" tribe. 

Known as the “My Life Sucks” tribe, this stage is characterized by pervasive negativity and collective dissatisfaction. The tribe mentality here is one of shared disappointment and the belief that life is unsatisfying, unfair, or even unbearable.

Understanding Stage 2: The Characteristics and Attitudes

In the Stage 2 tribe, you might notice colleagues perpetually focusing on problems, rather than seeking solutions. Complaints are often the language of choice, and there's a shared belief that external circumstances determine the fate of their lives. Individuals may feel powerless and victimized, placing blame on everyone but themselves.

Unlike Stage 1, where the mindset is “Life Sucks” and the victim mentality extends to the entirety of life, Stage 2 members at least have the company of their shared misery. The negativity is localized to their collective experiences, making it a shared sentiment. It’s a shift from individual helplessness to shared discontent.

The Impact of Stage 2 Mentality on Team Dynamics and Performance

As you navigate the Stage 2 tribe mentality, the "My Life Sucks" mindset, it's crucial for you to grasp the wider implications this mindset might have on your team's dynamics and performance. 

The attitudes and behaviors that define Stage 2 don't exist in isolation; they permeate everyday interactions, decisions, and outcomes, ultimately shaping your team's collective functioning. A Stage 2 mentality can subtly but surely erode team cohesion, efficiency, and morale, with far-reaching impacts on overall productivity and success.

Let's explore these impacts in detail, from your perspective:

Negativity Bias

The chronic complaint culture in your team can lead to a negativity bias, a psychological phenomenon where people give more weight to negative experiences over neutral or positive ones. This constant stream of complaints can skew perceptions, leading you and your team to bias towards negativity. This bias might be seen in several ways, from loss of motivation and creativity to a marked decrease in risk-taking. It could also increase stress and tension within the team, leading to possible friction and conflict.

Resistance to Change

Change is a constant part of life within an organization. However, in your Stage 2 team, the very idea of change might seem daunting. Resistance stems from the fear that change might exacerbate an already unsatisfactory situation. Consequently, you and your team might be reluctant to adapt to new methods, processes, or technologies, which could potentially enhance productivity and efficiency. This resistance to change can hamper your team's growth and innovation, hindering your ability to evolve and adapt in a fast-paced work environment.

Low Morale and Productivity

One of the most noticeable impacts of Stage 2 mentality is its effect on morale and productivity. When you and your colleagues are consistently unhappy and feel victimized, your morale can sink. This low morale can lead to disengagement and lack of motivation, significantly affecting productivity. The quality of work might suffer, deadlines might start being missed, and work output may decrease. In the long run, this could lead to high turnover rates, as you and your colleagues may start seeking more fulfilling work environments.


In a Stage 2 team, there's a lack of initiative and motivation for growth. This lack of ambition isn't due to incompetence or lack of skills, but rather a product of the prevailing mindset that everything is futile. This stagnation results in a team that is content with the status quo, lacking the drive to explore new ideas, pursue opportunities, or improve performance. Over time, this stagnation can cause your team to fall behind, missing out on potential advancements and opportunities for growth.

By recognizing and understanding these impacts, you can start to steer your team away from Stage 2, fostering a healthier and more positive work environment for all team members.

Situational Workplace Scenarios with Stage 2 Mindset

As you navigate the challenges of a Stage 2 tribe, you're likely to encounter certain situations that vividly illustrate the "My Life Sucks" mindset. These scenarios can range from team meetings dominated by complaints to colleagues resistant to change or learning new skills. 

However, it's important to remember that each of these situations presents an opportunity for you to effect change and help shift the collective mentality of your team. 

Scenario 1: Negativity at Team Meetings. Imagine you're in a team meeting with your colleague, John. John often starts the meetings with a string of complaints, setting a negative tone for the rest of the session. The meetings feel draining, don't they? 

Solution: You can initiate a change. Start the next meeting with "positive reflections". Encourage John and others to share something positive or something they are grateful for. This shift in focus can slowly transform the tone of your meetings, moving them from a cycle of complaints to constructive discussions.

Scenario 2: Unwillingness to Learn New Skills. Your coworker, Lisa, is resistant to learning new skills. She sees every new training as an extra burden, not a growth opportunity. 

Solution: Help Lisa see the personal and professional benefits of continuous learning. You could share your own experiences of how learning a new skill benefitted you. Furthermore, propose an informal learning session where everyone shares their new knowledge - making learning more of a team bonding exercise.

Scenario 3: Resistance to Change. There's a new project coming, and your colleague, James, is resisting it. He sees it as more work and more potential for things to go wrong. 

Solution: Facilitate open discussions about change. Let James voice his concerns and collaboratively brainstorm ways to adapt to the change. Assure him that challenges are a part of growth, and the team will work together to overcome any hurdles.

Scenario 4: Underperformance Due to Low Morale. Angela is generally unhappy with your team, and it's affecting her work quality. 

Solution: Encourage Angela to find meaning and purpose in her role. Celebrate her successes, no matter how small they might seem. A positive environment can boost her morale and, in turn, her productivity.

Scenario 5: Lack of Initiative. Mark seems stuck in his role, showing no desire for growth or advancement.

Solution: Encourage Mark to set personal and professional goals. Offer your support in achieving them, whether it's lending a listening ear, helping brainstorm action steps, or celebrating progress.

As a member of the tribe, your actions can significantly impact the dynamics of your team. By addressing these situations with positivity and solution-oriented approaches, you can help your colleagues transition towards a more constructive and positive mindset.

Shifting from Stage 2: Techniques for the Journey Forward

Moving out of a Stage 2 mentality is not an overnight shift. It requires patience, effort, and collective action. As a member of your team, you hold the power to influence change. But how can you facilitate this shift? What steps can you take to help move your team towards a more positive mindset? Here are five techniques that you can employ. 

Don’t forget, these actions don't require managerial authority; they can be initiated by anyone in the team, including you:

1. Positive Reflections

Instead of focusing on what's going wrong, encourage a shift towards what's going right. You can do this by sharing positive reflections regularly. It could be something as simple as a task you accomplished, a colleague who helped you, or a moment that made your day better. By sharing and encouraging others to share, you'll help foster a more optimistic view, creating a more positive work environment.

2. Create a Culture of Recognition

You and your colleagues work hard, and everyone appreciates being recognized for their efforts. Make it a point to regularly acknowledge the contributions of your peers. This could be through a simple thank you, a mention in a team meeting, or a shout-out on your company's internal communications platform. By fostering a culture of recognition, you can help uplift team morale and build a more appreciative work environment.

3. Encourage Personal Development

Promoting a culture of continuous learning and personal growth can help shift your team's mentality. Share learning resources, start a book club, or engage in joint learning sessions. By seeing learning as a shared journey rather than an isolated task, you'll help create an environment that values growth and development.

4. Equity Compensation

If your company doesn't already have an equity compensation scheme in place, advocate for it. Equity compensation can create a shared sense of ownership and commitment to the company’s success. As an employee, you can push for this by sharing the benefits and advocating its impact on the company culture.

5. Foster a Supportive Environment

Lastly, be there for your colleagues during challenging times. Offer to help when someone is overwhelmed, be an active listener when a colleague needs to talk, or simply check in on your teammates to see how they're doing. By fostering a supportive environment, you'll help build a team that looks out for each other and cares for each other's well-being.

Every step you take in this journey can make a difference. Your actions can impact your team's dynamics and overall work environment, moving it from a Stage 2 "My Life Sucks" mentality to a more positive and productive one. It might seem daunting, but remember, change starts with small steps. By implementing these techniques, you're taking those first crucial steps towards a healthier and more positive team culture.

Did you find this article helpful? Check out our learning resources on tribal leadership and ownership mindset here.

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