Birds of a Feather

An interesting study was conducted by Solomon Asch in 1951 to test how people’s beliefs affect one another. He invited people to sign up for a psychological experiment. When the volunteers arrived, he allowed a person to enter into a room where six people were already seated, with an empty seat left for the newcomer. All the participants were shown a standard line and allowed to examine it. Sometime later, they were shown three lines and asked to select among them the standard line they had seen earlier. The first participant chose a wrong answer, the second participant chose the same wrong answer and so did third up to the sixth participant. When it came to the turn of the newcomer, he probably reasoned that six people could not be wrong, so he also chose the same wrong answer to avoid being the odd one out. He was, however, not aware that the other six participants had earlier agreed on their answer because they were part of the experimental setup. The new comer’s opinion was the only one being measured, and his action confirmed that human decisions tend to be affected by that of the people around them.

Supposing someone tells us that the people we have around us everyday are directly related to our success or failure, how many of those people would we keep around us? If the newcomer in the experiment above could be influenced within a limited period of interaction and in such a subtle manner by people he never knew, imagine what happens to us through the people we see, listen to and interact with everyday? We need to assess our relationships in 2015 and see if they are the kind of relationships we need for where we are heading in 2016. Please understand that I am not suggesting that we only keep around us people we can “use”, “take advantage of” or “get something from”, no! That will make us selfish and ultimately miserable. Here are a few suggestions of the kind of people we need around us:

1. We need mentors: Les Brown usually puts it this way, “Always have someone in your life who sees things in you that you cannot see in yourself, because you can never see a picture when you are in the frame”. A good mentor should be able to identify our potentials and help us develop them.

2. We need change oriented people: a wise man said, “If you change things but you don’t change people, things will return to the way they used to be”. Remove termites from a room, clean out the debris, re-stock the room with new books and furniture then put the termites back in the room. What would you expect? Unless people change, nothing really changes.

3. We need positive minded people: Life is full of challenges, we all know that, but it is also full of blessings. It is what we look for that we find. Les Brown told the story of someone who saw a man about to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge. He rushed to the man and said, “Please don’t jump; tell me about your problems”. Two hour later, however, they both jumped! Don’t let anyone offload depression on you this year; you need a joyful spirit to see opportunities in the year. It is alright to listen to people’s problems, but make sure they have a positive disposition about the problems being solved.

4. We need people who value us: a lot of people always feel inferior or unimportant, but that is because they are not with those who value them. If we stay around those who merely tolerate us, we will feel unwanted all the time. If we stay where the demand for our skill or talent has been “over supplied” by other people, we will merely be “another one”. However, if we go to where we are needed, we will be “the one” and feel wanted. You are too valuable to be treated as an option; you are the real deal.

5. We need friends: we need people who simply love us for who we are and not for what we are or what we have. We need people who can correct us in love, not those whose criticism will leave us with low self-esteem.

6. We need a cause: we need a reason for existence that is beyond us. It is important to invest into the lives of people around us in any way we can. We should give someone a reason to thank God for creating us. We should let some people keep praying that God would keep us alive and well, so that we can continue to be a blessing.

I would love to know your views so please comment below. Also, don’t miss anything. You can get an alert for the next article and other new posts by simply inserting your email in the subscription window on the right side of your screen. Thank you.