You’ll change when the five people around you do

May 27, 2021 by Joshua
in Nature, Nonjudgment

Environmentalists try to convince, lecture, and argue people into changing their behavior and legislators to changing laws. Argument provokes people to argue back more than to change.

Non-environmentalists do it too. The other day at a cocktail party a guy kept arguing with me how the environment was fine. I couldn’t get us off the subject.

A new way of thinking about it hit me: People will act when five people around them act. It’s very liberating. You don’t have to try so hard knowing simply by sharing that you’ve acted, you increase the person’s chance of changing by twenty percent. With the guy at the cocktail party, I think I would have been equally or more effective by saying, “Here’s what I do. I like doing it and find it improves my life. I won’t try to justify it, but now you know one more person who has acted,”

Then I could rest easy knowing I did as much as I could.

It’s Liberating

I’m not trying to be scientific about it. Maybe it’s three people, maybe twenty. My point is that community motivates more than convincing, logic, or argument. It’s hard to act differently than people around you.

This view motivates changing yourself first so you can motivate others. If you don’t act, no matter how effective you consider your argument or persuasive your influence, if you haven’t acted, you don’t count toward their five. Whatever your words, you aren’t influencing others. If you don’t know five people who have acted, it motivates finding them. Or finding five people for others

It reinforces my podcast strategy to work with leaders. When I do an episode or TV special with Oprah and walk her through The Spodek Method, ten million people will newly have a person in their community who has acted.

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