Being the Lead Goose

Have you guys noticed yet that I love birds?

I’ve just gotten back from a few trips, including NOLA for Tribecon and up North in Quebec for BitNorth. Both were really cool events.

It’s become pretty evident over the time I’ve spent at conferences that your level of achievement is intimately connected to your social circle. I’m reading Connected right now, which strongly proves this with a number of examples, including how your friends get fat if you do, how much happier they are if you’re happy, etc.

In fact, it’s pretty crazy how much your friends (and their friends) influence you, which is why “Connected” is the perfect title for the book. But what can we do about it?

In my speech at Tribecon, what I suggest is that it’s your duty to lead your network to better achievement, whether losing weight, quitting smoking, or building a business.

What does this imply? Well, if you’re influenced by your network, but you’re first to change, it means you’ll encounter resistance, both internal and external. You won’t only make it tough on yourself (by breaking old habits), but other people’s habits will reinforce your old ones.

Second, maybe it means you need to spend more time with people that are already what you want to be like. This doesn’t mean don’t spend time with your friends, but if you want to be a writer, spend time with those that do it often. You’ll be hearing about it from them and it’ll encourage you in a number of ways. Then, you can bring that encouragement to your peer group.

Think of the way geese fly in that classic V-shape. The lead bird always encounters more wind resistance, making it easier to be in the back than the front. But if no one want to take the front, no one will get anywhere.

So all this stuff isn’t easy. Patterns reinforce themselves. Do you have any tricks to help you persevere in your goals?





10 responses to “Being the Lead Goose”

  1. ichselbst Avatar

    Interesting thesis…

  2. Doug C. Avatar

    First of all I love your blog design. What an awesome layout. I wasn’t sure at first if there was more to this article until I moved the scroll wheel on my mouse and the article moved up. Then I was like, ‘Wow…that’s neat.’

    Anyway, I completely agree with, “…your level of achievement is intimately connected to your social circle.” I’m finding this out for myself. In a recent CNN article I read (Me 2.0: Branding Yourself Online, by Mark Tutton) they talked about using social media to ‘brand’ yourself. Being connected to certain influential people in your niche and then building a relationship with them through social media is vital these days.

    As a complete introvert this has been hard for me. Typing more than a few words to someone wasn’t something I felt comfortable with. Heck, I feel put upon to speak more than ten words in a regular a conversation. And grunts, nods, and waving my hands about wouldn’t work too well (they don’t usually work too well in conversations, either).

    If anything this new social craze has taught me a few interpersonal skills, which I was sadly lacking. Being socially connected however has proven tougher. I rarely have anyone ReTweet my stuff or interact with me beyond, “Thanks for the follow!” So building a network has been a one-sided affair up till now. Hopefully something breaks soon and the popularity starts flooding in. Of course, if that happens, then I’ll need to step out of my little box and start interacting back.


    1. Julien Avatar

      Doug, I can totally relate to that. You feel at first like you’re not getting anywhere with it, I feel that. But things like blog commenting can help– the more personal the interaction, the more memorable it is. I started that way with connecting with podcasters and it led me to this. Keep it up dude, I think you’ll see it gets you places. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Heather Justesen Avatar

    I completely agree that you become better when you surround yourself with friends trying to reach the same goals. I did a fair amount of writing, but until I joined a group of other writers where I received regular encouragement I didn’t have the direction to succeed. Now many of us who had been writing for a long time but going nowhere are seeing our books in print and achieving more. The more we pull together and encourage each other in our goals the more of us succeed.

    Thanks for the article.

  4. rlaskey Avatar

    If we’re to take the goose metaphor a bit further, the lead goose also is not looking back all that much. That is, where you’re headed isn’t necessarily a path paved by anyone else in your flock; taking lead, to some degree, implies a rather clear mission.

    For the geese, it’s sort of the obvious direction (where it’s warmer/safer). With technology and social networks the answers may not be quite as clear. The principal is about the same, though, I figure.

    1. Julien Avatar

      Rlaskey, I really like that. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Christina Avatar

    I don’t know if it’s a trick or a quirk I shouldn’t admit to… but when something is difficult (yet I know I want to go after it), I tell myself the story I’m creating.

    Not only does that encourage and help me to keep going, but in boiling down the process to its essentials, sometimes I can see a more focused goal or ways I can improve how I’m getting to it.

  6. Veronica Reynolds Avatar

    I think about this subject a lot.

    Should I stop being friends with those who have “dead end” jobs, or who aren’t working toward bettering themselves?

    Not necessarily, but if I find myself lacking motivation I may take a break from them for awhile ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. Doug C. Avatar

    Oh I do plenty of blog commenting – at least twelve or more a day. Rarely do I see anyone reciprocate though.

  8. John Meadows Avatar

    There is also something to be said for trying out different “V’s” sometime, where not only are you not the lead goose, but you have to work your ass off just to stay in the formation. Being a leader is one kind of good stretching, and diving into the deep end is another good kind.

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