Mastering The Art of Social Facilitation: The Only Truly Instantaneous Performance Hack

Written by Scott September 9, 2013

Social facilitation and running 50 miles

“Change your surroundings. Change everything.”

Social Facilitation & The Power of People’s Presence

In 1898, a man by the name of Norman Triplett did a study on a group of cyclists.

He clocked their race times under two different sets of circumstances. In the first, they were by themselves on the course. The second time, they were riding in a group.

His findings were simple, yet incredibly profound: The cyclists’ times were consistently faster when in the presence of their peers.

This tipped off an avalanche of studies over the coming decades, proving the theory to hold true in just about every endeavor.

In 1924, Floyd Allport, who is commonly considered the founder of Social Psychology, later coined the term “Social Facilitation”. He deepened the studies to cover everything from word association and test taking, to fitness and even math. The results were all the same…

The Presence and Quality of Your Surroundings Make a Dramatic Difference on Your Output

People matter. And they matter a lot.

It’s really that simple. If you want to increase your results or up your game in a given area, go find some people to do it with you. Or to simply watch you do it. Ideally, find ones who are a tad out of your league, but anyone is better than no one.

I had a rather enlightening (and very rewarding) personal social facilitation experience this weekend…

Running 50 Miles & Brainwashing the Impossible

A few months ago, my good friend Leo Babauta and I decided it’d be a good idea to sign up for a 50-mile foot race as a “fun” personal challenge. We always like to test limits and figured this was worth a try.

For the few months before the race, we did weekly training runs, but I felt like were a little more laid back than the average ultra marathon training plan would suggest (my fault, not his). For months, a big shot personal trainer friend of mine, Jenn Pattee, had been suggesting that we join her running group. I knew it’d be good to do, but procrastinated mainly out of fear of not being able to hack it.

 Finally, we decided to join a Saturday morning ultra running club in Marin. On my second time out with them, we went on a 14.2 mile loop in the hills of the Marin headlands.

Most these guys left me in the dust right from the get-go. The picture above is from that run. Given that I took the shot, and most the crew is hardly visible on the tiny trail on the lower left, it’s clear that I wasn’t exactly leading the pack…

But the interesting thing was that it didn’t matter. 

When I finished, my average pace per mile was 10:18 for the 14 miles.

My average pace on the runs prior was over 12 minutes per mile.

That’s about a 1:45 minute/mile difference – for every mile!

Over fourteen miles that can add up. And over 50 miles that would be 1.5 hours faster!!

The crazy thing was that no one on the trail was yelling at me to run faster. No one was pushing me along. In fact, half the time I was running all by myself, with some folks way ahead and even a few a ways back.

Surrounded by (unsuspecting) Talent…

As I was grinding up one of the hills at mile nine, I came across Jorge, who was leading that morning’s run. He had stayed back to take some pictures of the crew.

I started raving about how much faster I was moving and how I wanted to write an article about my experience. He asked where I wrote, and as I explained Live Your Legend, he started to get really excited.

“Well, do you know much about my story and Brett’s?” he asked.

He had my interest.

“Do tell,” I responded.

As it turns out Brett Rivers, the founder of San Francisco Running Company, used to work in tech at Zynga – until he decided to quit to further pursue a passion for the trails. I liked what I was hearing.

Brett now sometimes runs multiple 100-mile races in a year.

Yeah that’s 1-0-0. And it’s not that uncommon for him to actually win. He took second in his last 100-mile in San Diego.

Then Jorge told me a bit about his own story. Turns out he’s sponsored by Solomon Running – which means he gets paid to run and compete all over the world. He had just run a 50-miler in Whistler the week before.

A few months back he entered the Great Wall Marathon in China. He took first place.

He also set the course record. It turns out these guys were among the top 1% of runners on the planet.

And I had thought I was out of my league on mile two…

But it didn’t matter. I didn’t seek out a run with the best in the world. I just wanted to start hanging around people who did this kind of stuff on a regular basis.

So I went to some random Saturday run club and ran with a few new friends. As a result, my output instantly increased by 15%.

And I didn’t even have to do anything differently. I didn’t change my eating (I actually had a couple extra glasses of wine with Chelsea the night before). I didn’t get more sleep. I hadn’t altered my training schedule.

I just showed up – and that changed everything. 

That’s the beauty of your surroundings.

You often don’t have to do anything else. You don’t even need to set new goals.

Find the right people and show up. Your results immediately start to transform. 

Our standards change without even knowing it. We can rise to the level of those who inspire us. Or we succumb to the ones who bring us down. Just depends on who you decide to hang around.

And the craziest part?

As I drove home on Saturday, the idea of actually running 50 miles didn’t seem so terrifying anymore. In fact, I even got a little excited.

That’s when things start to get interesting.

And it works with everything…

There’s data and proof behind all of it.

  • Run with good runners and you’ll run faster
  • Make friends with skinny people and you’ll lose weight
  • Rehearse a presentation with colleagues (instead of in front of the mirror) and your delivery will change
  • Step out on a TEDx stage and you’ll inspire on a new level
  • Talk business ideas and possibility with a group of savvy entrepreneurs and your creativity blossoms
  • Hang with inspiring, supportive people, and your capability, output and belief of what’s possible will transform.

That’s what I call brainwashing the impossible.

And it’s something you can start doing right this second – Try It: 

1. Go find a group in your hometown on a topic you’re working on – business, fitness, personal, whatever. Use Meetup.com or Craigslist or ask the local popular restaurant, gym, fitness studio or coffee shop where to find a group for your interest. When you’re on the lookout, passionate people tend to come out of the woodwork.

 2. Then show up and watch what happens.

3. Come back and tell us about it. 

Change Your Surroundings, Change What’s Possible. 

That is why I am so dedicated and so proud of what we’ve built with Connect With Anyone.

We have curated a community of people who inspire one another, who support us in our dreams and who raise all of our standards just by being in the same room (be it virtually or in person).

As a result, businesses get started, passions get pursued, dead-end jobs get dropped and dreams literally start to come true.

You don’t have to have a course like CWA to transform your surroundings. But if you want guidance from people who have been there and done that, it can take a lot of the uncertainty out of the whole process. We lay out a clear road map and connect you with like minds from day one.

 

Change Your Surroundings. Change What’s Possible.

That’s the only point.

Whether you do it with us in our CWA community or you do it some other way – all I care about is that you start taking your surroundings seriously. Because no matter way, your community will change you. It’s on you to make sure it’s for the better.

You can either hang around the people who say you’re crazy for thinking differently and stupid for trying, or you can hang around the ones who inspire possibility. The ones who do the things most only dream of. Or in some cases, the ones who run 50 or 100 miles without thinking twice – and inspire you to consider the same.

That is the community we are building at Live Your Legend. And it’s the community we are teaching and helping people build for themselves inside Connect With Anyone.

As always, it’s an honor to have you in the arena with us fighting the good fight. It’d be impossible to do on our own. It always is.

If you need help surrounding yourself with the people who refuse to let you fail, give Connect With Anyone a serious look.

No matter what, our community at LYL is here to help however we can.

Environment is everything. It’s also 100% in your control.

Here’s to surrounding ourselves with greatness,

-Scott

 

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“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” - Jim Rohn