Socially Speaking

Picking your friends wisely is just part of the equation when it comes to your social network and the individuals who surround you in life and online.
Text by Francesca Cruz | June 4, 2018 | Lifestyle

It’s a breezy Thursday night in Brickell, the kind that keeps your hair whipping into your face and dipping into your lip gloss — not the sexiest look for a gal. I turn to kiss Frank tenderly goodbye, thanking him for a lovely date. He radiates joy, internal beauty & youth — tall, tan, handsome and dashing. Smelling of musk, bergamot and all things tropical, biding farewell to him feels right out of Shakespeare.
On my drive home, I think about our conversation. This is the second time I see him in my life, so I can’t say I know him, but ironically, we have both been on similar paths for the last year — within our particular autonomy — purposefully experiencing the same paradox. Both he and I have been diligently surrounding ourselves with mentors & motivators, gathering our tribe, aware of just how significant the individuals that surround us shape who we are…or who we intend to become.
Our family, friends and social networks have a profound influence on our tastes, health, wealth, happiness, beliefs, self-esteem, choices and even something as overlooked as our weight. Scientists Nicholas A. Christakis & James H. Fowler discovered that obesity is a multi-centric epidemic, and if a person’s friend is obese, that person’s chances of obesity is 45% higher; if person B was not obese but became obese, person A’s chances of obesity increases to 57%. There are 3 principles evolved here: Induction: As I gain weight, you gain weight; Homophily: I form a bond with you because of similar traits; and finally, Confounding: Sharing a common exposure to something that then becomes a behavior that spreads.
People are connected in vast social networks and social influence does not end with the people we know. It’s a subtle, at times even subconscious process. If we affect our friends, and they affect their friends, than our actions can potentially affect people we have never even met — remember the ramification is reciprocal.
It reminds me of Entrepreneur, Author & Motivational Speaker Jim Rohn and his Law Of The Average, where he uses the parable of the sower as an example: The sower was a smart and ambitious man, who did not listen to naysayers. He planted his seeds, but unfortunately, the birds picked them up. Then his seeds fell on shallow ground, giving no return. He then planted them on thorny ground and the sun shined so hot that his plant died after the first day…again, no return. Then one day, his seeds were planted on good ground and finally gave him the expected return and success. The parable is that the only way you can make sure that you will fight your way through life’s unexpected hardships is with character and the right people by your side. You can’t control the birds picking the seeds, but you can decide how you react to that circumstance, and who shall be your surrounding peer group; individuals that extend a motivating pat on the back, or a defeating look.
Events in our life don’t shape us — it’s our response to those life events that does. Whatever situation arises, we always have choices to make. Each choice we make directs us to a path of success or a road to failure. And having a cheering squad on your side that doesn’t pass judgment, but stimulates as well as supports you, is not just essential — it’s vital. How then do the individuals that make up your social network impact your decision-making, and your life?
Time to bring out some pen and paper. Think about the 5 people you spend the most time with. Write those names down. Are they positive go-getters, or pessimistic Debbie Downers that easily settle? I’m taking this from one extreme to the next to add a bit of drama to the mix, but truly think about those people. Based on scientific research, your peers consciously or subconsciously influence your choices. Certain individuals trigger something in us that make us strive for more, while others mentor us and teach us with their wisdom. Some bring us calm and peace of mind. Those are all positive variables, but it’s the ones that contaminate us with negative energy, destructive habits, the naggers, the naysayers and the complainers we need to steer clear of.
Is it time, perhaps, to clean house? Yes, it’s difficult to alienate friends you’ve grown up with who are now on a different path. It’s not about shipping them off to Siberia. It’s about an uncompromising commitment to yourself, to your goals, your success, and the quality of your life.
The next thing to address is not external, but what’s going on internally. It involves you. Yes, YOU! Are you the sower from the parable? How well do you know yourself? If you are surrounding yourself with exceptional people, are you exceptional as well? To know what you bring to the table, you need to understand your purpose in life. When you make choices with no real basis and meaning, the slightest setback can discourage you. It’s also important to know what’s important to you and to identify your values and guiding principles. Lastly, you must begin to analyze your choices. Ask yourself if each choice is in line with your beliefs and goals. Will it bring you closer to what you want? Your earnest response will make the decision at hand crystal clear.
With the right people in place in your life, an expansive and resourceful mindset, the confidence to believe in the eventual outcome, and an internal call to action— the only thing that’s holding you back from your goals and achieving success is…well…it’s quite simple: NOTHING. And yes, if those asskickers that surround you happen to be tall, dashing & handsome, it certainly makes for an added bonus. Maybe beauty rubs off too!