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Part 3, Influencer: The Power to Change Anything

Hi, all! I wanted to get back to business and continue to my third post (see first here and second here) about the Influencer by Patterson, et al.

So far, we talked about figuring out what to change, getting yourself to buy in to the change (for real), and the ways to actually make the change happen on the personal level.

I’m going to talk about the next two today, on the social level. (Hint: you are part of the social part of my change.) As with yesterday, one deals with the motivation question (is it worth it?) and the other the ability question (can I do this?).

“… no resource is more powerful and accessible than the persuasion of the people who make up our social networks. … influencers embrace and enlist it.”

Social

Motivation: Harness peer pressure.

The authors talked a bunch about how to enlist social support to influence others. But how do you use that support to influence yourself? They refer to research that shows:

  • People who get emails from friends asking about their progress do better at sticking to their plans than those who don’t
  • When diabetics get their loved ones involved, compliance with their treatment plans soars
  • People who make commitments and then share those with friends are more likely to follow through

Then, the authors say, hey, go beyond getting support from bystanders — team up with someone who wants to make the same changes. (Um, that would be you.)

What’s interesting is I never enlisted social support before this. I felt it would be too much pressure and backfire. I was afraid of failing. I would do it myself. Well, if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that I’m self-sufficient to a fault. It was time to reach out and make myself a little vulnerable and I have been rewarded ten-fold by people reaching right back. (Thanks! Group hug!)

And that leads to another tip: make the undiscussable discussable. How can we fix or get support for what we can’t talk about? Fat people are supposed to try to be invisible. Well, I’m going to talk about this, openly, and without shame. I can’t learn from others and I can’t share what’s working, if I can’t talk about it.

All these things help us develop new networks “where virtually everyone in their new social circle supports and rewards the right behaviors while punishing the wrong ones.”

Ability: Find strength in numbers.

Groups can do better than the smartest individuals. I like to think I’m pretty smart. But I don’t always make the smartest decisions. However, I do find it easier to make better decisions when I’m not just relying on my own will. For example, last night, it was 9pm. I hadn’t exercised yet. I was tired. I was starting to justifying just going to bed. But then, I thought about all the people who had signed up for the Breast Cancer Awareness 30 Minutes Challenge with me and I thought, OK, I can’t be a slacker on the first day! So I got started and before I knew it had ridden an hour and met my personal commitment.

So what about when people are part of the problem, sabotaging efforts, not supporting them? The authors have a great description of a situation in which a man is trying to lose weight and the people around him “act like accomplices in the crimes against his body.” They said he has to find a way to convert his saboteurs to supporters by getting them on his side: “changing a me problem into a we problem.”
Thanks guys, and I’ll continue this series in another day or two with the final installment: the structural/organizational changes we can make to ensure our success!

Thu, October 9 2008 » Motivation, Persistence, Strategy, Support

2 Responses

  1. Angie October 10 2008 @ 10:04 am

    What a great post(s)! Well girl, you got the social support right here! I was just checking in to see how the run/walking went this week in preparation for your 5 km goal?

    ~A

  2. Alexia October 10 2008 @ 9:22 pm

    Heya! Doing pretty well — did intervals several times and am able to run a little more each time. I think I need a more structured plan than “just see what I can do” at this point, though, so will following the Couch to 5k plan a little more closely — thanks for the check in! We have the major headache and puking virus at my house (luckily, just the headache for me so far… well and lots of everyone else’s laundry), so I’ve been using my exercise bike (named Plan B) since I haven’t gotten to the gym.

    I did get the all clear to run from my doc — I have arthritis in my knees, but she said go for it! (then she said, but I’m not the right person to ask because my knees are shot from running ;-))

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