No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main. ~ By John Donne
A client once sent me this video. It’s no secret I’m fascinated by anything related to TED. However, this particular video is extremely intriguing. It specifically talks about the social network community. It reminded me of our own Happily Thinner After (HTA) website and how it has morphed and evolved into a life of its own.
In the video, Nicholas Christakis discusses the value of social networks. He contends they are a kind of social capital. New properties emerge because we become embedded in social networks. And these properties adhere to the structure of the network, not just the individuals within them.
In essence, he says it is the ties between people that make the whole greater than the sum of its parts. In other words, the connections we make with others in the community combine and become an entity in and of itself. Members experience each other, as well as the whole of the group.
I have noticed this phenomenon specifically when working with Boot Camp members. I have watched successes ebb and flow depending on the forum’s mood at any given moment.
Happily Thinner After is about to celebrate our sixth anniversary. In those six years, many theories, experiments, and practices have been formulated. Many people have been helped with their weight struggles. We have tracked and collected a mountain of data.
For a long while, I believed this was due to the support group atmosphere. However, after watching this video, I am beginning to think it might be more than that.
Christakis says our experience of the world depends on the actual network structure in which we are residing and all the energy rippling and flowing throughout the networks.
He says this happens because the networks form a sort of super organism (I have heard it often called a ‘mastermind group’). He describes this super organism as a collection of individuals who show behaviors not reducible to the study of individuals but rather as a collective (BORG??? HA!!!).
Using the Boot Camp community as an example and our finding that those who participate in Boot Camp are often the most successful; then the question arises — Is it because Boot Camp is a support/social network or is the support/social network responsible for the success? According to Christakis, it is because we choose to be a part of that social network; we are all successful because the NETWORK itself is responsible for the success.
He also states the spread of good and valuable social interactions is required to sustain and nourish social networks. Similarly, strong social networks require members to spread love, kindness, happiness, altruism, and ideas. He surmises if we truly understood social networks’ value; we would devote more time nourishing and sustaining them because fundamentally, social networks are related to goodness.
This raises a more personal question. What are you doing to nourish your social networks? Do you actively take part? Are you spreading love, kindness, and ideas? How are you helping to sustain these networks?
Whether you participate in Boot Camp and/or keep an HTA journal, or not; the key is to nourish and sustain your social network connections. If you do that, you will be more successful.
Your influence in the world is greater than you might realize. You have an effect on others; there is no way around it.
The only choice you do have is whether your effect is a positive or negative one.