This has been a great week for our community here.
New readers excite me because whenever someone new joins our cause, our entire community gets stronger. And the power of community cannot be overstated: the people you spend time with can lengthen your life (or shorten it), can make your goals seem achievable (or impossible), and can fill you with energy (or suck it out of you).
In other words, the people around you are either your greatest asset or your greatest challenge.
Let's talk about how the people around you can impact your health, what makes the right type of community so powerful, and how you can surround yourself with the type of people who can help you achieve your goals — no matter what they are.
The Effect of Your Community on Your Health
Your friends and family may be killing you, and that's no exaggeration.
For example, one study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that if your friend becomes obese, then you have a 57% chance of increasing obesity yourself — even if your friend lives hundreds of miles away!
It sounds simple, but if you have close connections with unhealthy people, then it’s more likely that you’ll be unhealthy yourself.
In other words, illness isn't just something you catch, it's something you imitate as well.
What Can You Do in a World That is Stressed, Busy, and Unhealthy?
Thankfully, there is good news: healthy lifestyles are contagious too. Here's a positive example of how our communities play a role in our health:
The YMCA frequently runs surveys to determine why new members join and, more importantly, why current members come back. Time after time, the Y has discovered that what pulls people in are fancy facilities and programs, but the reason people come back is because of the connections they make.
Here’s what one member from Green Bay, Wisconsin said in a survey…
“I cherish the relationships I have built with the members and staff of the Y. These daily interactions make me want to be a healthier person and I look forward to my time at the Y each day. It's more than a place to get physically fit. When you walk into the building, you are immediately greeted by a friendly face and that motivates you to want to come back, because you know people at the Y care.”
The power of community holds in almost every case. Health and fitness is just one example. Every goal becomes more achievable when you hang out with people who are already achieving it. The people who have already walked through the fire can help you do the same.
The Solution: Find Your Keystone Community
“For people to adopt a healthful lifestyle, I have become convinced, they need to live in an ecosystem, so to speak, that makes it possible.”
A few weeks ago, I mentioned the idea of keystone habits, which are little routines that seem to make everything else fall into place. On a larger scale, I believe that you can have a keystone community, which is a small group of people who make it easier to accomplish your goals in life.
A keystone community is the group or team that pushes you forward, makes you better, and is there for you to rely upon when you need them. These are the type of people who make change easier. A keystone community is filled with the type of people who make your life “click.”
This is exactly what we are working to build here — a community that makes it easier for you to do work you love and contribute something of value to the world, explore life with curiosity, form healthy relationships, and, of course, forge a strong body and live a fiercely physical life.
For my part, I try to practice what I preach by being an entrepreneur and a writer (doing work I love and contributing something of value), a weightlifter (living a physical life), and a travel photographer (exploring with curiosity).
How We are Becoming a Keystone Community
Even though our movement is barely in its infancy (this blog is only 8 weeks old), we already have hundreds of members and we're showing strong signs of becoming a keystone community.
For example, dozens of our new members left comments this week — mostly on this article and this one. And while I appreciated all of them, there were two comments in particular that caught my attention.
First, a reader named Liz said:
“It is SO refreshing to read such wonderful wisdom from someone who actually admits that they are living and working with the same hurdles as the rest of us. You did not come out of the gate saying that you have the “quick way” or the “secret to success”. Thanks for your honesty and humbleness. So happy I found your blog and I look forward to reading more!”
It's strange, but I can't tell you how happy I am that Liz doesn't think I'm anything special. She couldn't be more right: I’m struggling with the same things as everyone else — how to become a better leader, how to overcome uncertainty and take action, how to become more consistent and hold myself accountable.
But Liz’s comment also hints at another idea, which I think is far more important…
This is a shared vision. Our community is focused on living a healthy life and becoming better, and that's a journey that we are walking together.
Most of the important things in life aren't about any one person. Our community isn't “The James Clear Show.” I don't care about this being a famous website, I just want it to be a good one. I'm simply on a quest to get the best information for living a healthy life and making an impact into the hands of very smart people (i.e. you) and letting you run with it.
This community isn't mine, it's ours. Success unshared is failure.
People Are Waiting to Help You
Earlier this week, a woman named Lisa left a comment talking about how she is working on becoming a better guitar player, but has been struggling recently.
Not long after, another member of our community named Aaron read about Lisa's situation and dropped this knowledge bomb:
I’d just like to offer my 2 cents on your desire to become a better guitar player. As a beginner (I’ve been playing a little over 10 years) I found my best progress happened when I set aside 20 to 30 minutes of actual practice time. By that I mean taking a scale or a chord or a chord progression or a theoretic concept (whatever it is you are working on) and working on that and only that without distraction. After your practice time you can go noodle around and play songs! But I found that focusing on one thing at a time can lead to much greater results.
Responses like Aaron's are the mark of a strong community. When the members of a movement start to help each other out, that's when you know you have a good group.
More importantly, this should be a message to you: if you have the guts to speak up, be vulnerable, and tell the world what you care about (as Lisa did), then you'll quickly find that the leaders of our community (like Aaron) are willing and ready to help you.
You can rest assured that I've always got your back (I try to respond to every comment) and I'm happy to help however I can, but contributions like Aaron's are much more important than mine could ever be because the collective power of our community is more than any one person could ever hope to provide.
Will You Join Us?
Know this: this community is here for you if you want it.
It's just the very beginning right now and I can't say for sure what this will become, but something is happening. We are becoming a team that is committed to becoming better, helping each other take the next step, and living a healthy life. We're walking the slow march towards greatness together and I’d love nothing more than for you to join us.
Even if you’re a lone soldier in real life, you’ve got a whole army behind you here. I’ve got your back, readers like Aaron have your back, and we have thousands of readers who are paying attention.
If you haven't already, then take a moment to join us by clicking here and signing up for our free newsletter. I couldn't be more excited to have you here.