We are social creatures. It’s a fact. You can look around and find examples of how important social relationships are to us. Think about how much of your life is based around social interactions. For most people, everyday is filled with social situations, sometimes they’re good, sometimes they’re bad, but what is certain is that they are necessary. Relationships and human interaction are what make us truly human. The people that we surround ourselves with can make dramatic impacts on our lives. These people often inspire us and we look to them as motivators and leaders. We find all kinds of special connections with different people, each one unique to that specific person. When we pull away from people that we are close with it usually leads us to feel more distant and disconnected as if we are missing something vital in our lives. Whether someone considers himself or herself an introvert or an extrovert is erroneous, at some point we all desire to be accepted into something that we feel we are a part of. The relationships that we form ultimately help us grow and learn and that is why The Syndicate believes in community as a core value.
I think of my life in seasons so to speak. Each season has been filled with it’s own challenges and pitfalls, joys and triumphs. I look back at the various seasons and can see that I was a very different person throughout many of them. There were points in my life where I was very involved in multiple social groups and activities and there were points in my life where I was withdrawn and disconnected. I can truly say that the times where I felt more of a sense of community I felt more alive and more myself. I had more confidence and ambition and felt like I was ready to tackle the world. On the other hand I think of the times that I was more withdrawn and my life seemed to be filled with anxiety, confusion and even depression. Now, we all go through highs and lows but it’s interesting to me that the biggest difference between those two types of seasons was my level of social interaction or my sense that I was part of a community. Perceived loneliness can have a great impact on our lives without even knowing it. It can be difficult to pull our self out of social isolation. The more withdrawn that you are the more that you will want to withdraw yourself. However, if it continues to go on without notice, lack of community and social health can continue to lead to a loss in happiness and more.
This has become clearer to me as I continue to go through life. The most recent example is related to my move to the Bay Area. My wife and I came out to California not knowing anyone other than a couple that live in San Francisco, we were moving to Oakland. We knew that we wouldn’t be able to see them too often simply because of how long it takes to get to either location and having conflicting schedules. With that, we knew we were going to have to find some sort of connection, which can be easier said than done. We always seem to forget how hard it is to move to a brand new area and find new, possibly already established, social groups. When I moved from Tennessee I was leaving some people that I had become fairly close with. When my wife and I arrived in California I immediately felt that loss of connection. We were in a new culture and a new place and didn’t know anyone. I now understand after having moved multiple times that no matter how good you think you are at it you will have those anxious feelings to some degree or another.
Lucky for me, a friend and mentor of mine from Tennessee, Dave Ray, had a good relationship with a fellow fitness coach by the name of Nate Chambers. Nate owns a gym in San Francisco called Roark Gyms and Dave suggested that I get connected with him and check it out and he might let me workout there. After a phone conversation Nate gladly welcomed me to his gym. The first time I entered the gym it was like nothing I had ever seen or felt before. Everyone was so welcoming and friendly and they automatically made you feel like you were a part of they’re community. Since I have continued to go there I have made relationships with people that I never expected to. Everyone is so different in so many ways; however, they all have the common goal of trying to make themselves better physically and mentally in the gym. I continue to go to the gym and shadow Nate as well as help with coaching some of the classes. The people that are members of Roark continue to come back for more than just great workouts and good programming, they come back because it is the best time of their day where they get to share time with friends new and old. Roark is a very important reason why I am doing what I’m doing and it continues to inspire not just me but the other people that it impacts.
The more involved that you are, the more it seems opportunities present themselves to get more involved with different communities. Because of my involvement in Roark Gyms I have recently become more connected with a community that was started by Mike Lewis that’s called When To Jump. It’s a community of people that all have one thing in common and that is to leave comfortable corporate careers behind to pursue something that they’re truly passionate about. They hold monthly events with featured speakers that share their story of how they made the jump. They also will have a previous speakers follow up with the group about what has changed since they were the featured speaker. The great thing about When To Jump is that it doesn’t matter if you are trying to start a gym, an Ice Cream store, or become a self-employed consultant; you can share your successes and challenges with other like-minded individuals that are trying to pursue their passion and make an impact on the world. It’s a group that you can feel safe and supported in. It’s people that will help you not only grow your business and chase your passion but grow yourself as a person. So much has changed for me since I’ve become a part of Roark Gyms and it has lead to relationships with people and communities that I never thought I would be a part of.
Every great community has a few major parts that both Roark and When to Jump have. They provide a space for people to come together with some common goal in mind and they provide accountability either directly or indirectly. At Roark, you are held accountable directly by the coaches that make sure you are performing the exercises properly and that you push yourself. The other members of the community also hold you accountable. Someone else being pushed along side you will most likely in turn cause you to push yourself harder. This leads to growth that you never thought you could obtain. There is a time and a place for individual training but at some point another incentive and motivator can help you push past limits that you thought you had. I have experienced this first hand. When I have trained in group settings I go far beyond what I could on my own. I think everyone can always benefit and learn about him or herself by training in a group setting no matter how experienced you are. At When To Jump You are held accountable by sharing your continued progress to the group. You may also create smaller communities within the broad community and build close relationships with those people that will help you and hold you accountable in a more direct way. Each individual part of the community thrives on helping the other individuals pursue their passions.
I’m a big believer in people pursuing their passions. I have taken a jump that others may not have at this point in their lives. Through my experiences while taking the leap I have found that the community that I am surrounded by has been crucial in pushing me to better myself and to continue to strive for success. This also allows me the opportunity to pay it forward and help other friends and aspiring entrepreneurs like myself by sharing ideas and experiences that we can all grow from. I will ask my friends what they have done recently to further themselves towards their aspirations and make sure that they are taking the proper steps to make the transition and pursue their dream. Even if they don’t make a move right away I know it’s helpful to continue to share with them some challenges that they may face so they can think things through. Eventually if they do take the leap and go for something they’re passionate about I know that my input will be helpful whether it shows them what to do or what not to do.
I encourage every one to seek out community in whatever form they think suits them. People are generally happier when they are more involved and have people that they can connect to. A recent study by Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience found that groups of older adults reported higher perceived social support, reduced stress and reduced perceived loneliness when they underwent a 6-month randomized controlled trial involving 3, 1 hour exercise meetings per week. The interesting part of the study is that they used four different types of exercise and all groups reported the positive effects of social support and community. The authors concluded that independent of exercise type, there were benefits to the social environment that was present and that group activities can reduce perceived loneliness in older adults.
To me this says that people need to get out there and connect and no I don’t mean get more friends on Facebook or more Instagram Followers, I mean truly connect. Sit down with some people and get to know them, what they’re passionate about, their story, their aspirations, what they did that day, anything! I truly think the world would be a better place if we all became better at connecting and taking the time to have relationships with one another. We are all very busy and we lose sight of the importance of having people to talk to. At the end of the day, the time that you share with others is something that is priceless and finite. It’s something that’s easy to take advantage of. We must understand that we need to make the most of every moment and learn about one another. It doesn’t matter if you find your community in a gym, a book club, a religious group, at work, or anywhere for that matter I think you will see the benefits of being surrounded by people that have your back. Build your own Syndicate and make it something that you think will not only change your life but those around you.
For those of you interested in learning more about When To Jump or Roark Gyms, check out the links below. They are two communities that I believe in and that are going to do great things. I highly recommend both of them as valuable resources to instill impactful change.
When To Jump- whentojump.com
Roark Gyms- roarkgymsusa.com
Ehlers, D.K.; Daugherty, A.M.; Burzynska, A.Z; Fanning, J; Awick, E.A.; Chaddock-Heyman, L; Kramer, A.F.; McAuley, E (2017). Regional brain volumes moderate, but not mediate, the effects of group-based exercise training on reductions in loneliness in older adults. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. 9 (110).