I don't know about you, but I'll admit to my own laziness. I've learned keyboard shortcuts so I don't have to move my hand to the mouse. I keep my running shoes on my treadmill so I don't have to walk down the hall to get them. And now, I've learned that I can customize my own personality and habits just by doing something that I've always done.
James Fowler and Nicholas Christakis, professors of political science and sociology respectively, have conducted four studies in as many years that suggest that our weight, generosity, happiness and whether we smoke or not is strongly influenced by our social networks (i.e. the people we're connected to and surrounded by in real life).
We've probably all heard that our income is within 10% of that of our five closest friends, or that you are most like the five people you spend the most time with. I've suspected that those have been repeated so often that we believe they are true. But now, looking at the summaries of the studies by Fowler and Christakis, I'm wondering if they are true just by projection from the other things that have been shown to be true.
They've got studies showing that generosity is contagious within a social network and that what you weight and if you smoke or not is affected by the people you spend time with. Can you see how that might work? For example, if you're the only one in the group who doesn't smoke, eventually peer pressure (and standing outside by yourself) could eventually wear you down. If your friends all eat half a pizza for dinner, it's almost impossible to nibble at your salad while they've got pepperoni grease dripping off their chin.
So how can we all use this information to our laziest advantage? I'm assuming that as a reader of this blog, you network on a regular basis or in a systematic way in order to grow your business or develop your career. At the same time, you are influencing your own thought patterns when it comes to your weight, smoking, generosity and who knows what else.
Maybe you're increasing your tendency to get up and take action to achieve your goals. Why not? You're spending time with other people who chose to be at a networking event instead of vegging out on the sofa in front of American Idol. Okay, they might be DVR'ing it. They are still practicing delayed gratification.
Maybe you're working on a more positive mindset. People who network might be a more optimistic group of people because they believe that something good will happen from their efforts.
So ... by networking, you are using a lazy, no-extra-effort-required technique to improve your health, wealth and wisdom. Assuming you're spending time with people who have the positive characteristics that you're looking for.
And as any parent who has said #$%^ in front of their child knows, everything you do influences someone else. Would you have that extra donut if you knew you were eating - not for two - but for your entire social group? Now you've got an extra responsibility for the people who spend their time with you!
Personally, I feel like I've already got an amazing group of people that I spend time with via my networking activities. They are positive, upbeat, serious about their businesses, spend time learning, develop their skills and they are supportive of each other.
How is your social network customizing your personality?