As you’ve probably heard on the news by now, turns out that obesity isn’t exclusively hereditary; it’s also socially contagious (US News, 7/25/07). A recent study to be published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that if you’re close friends with people who are obese, you’re more likely to gain weight yourself either because you adopt the same unhealthful lifestyle, you don’t feel as much pressure to stay thin in front of an obese friend or you alter your perception of acceptable appearance when you see that your friends have gained weight.
All very interesting, but what does a study about obesity have to do with solos? Plenty. The study reinforces a basic concept: that our behavior, action and self-worth are affected significantly by those around us – even to the point where we compromise our health and well being. And we solos and aspiring solos, independent and bold as we may like to believer, are not impervious to this phenomenon. Thus, much as we believe in our ability to start and run a successful practice, if we surround ourselves with naysayers, we may begin to have doubts. And if we’ve already got a pretty decent practice up and running, we’re more likely to look down on our accomplishments when colleagues belittle solos.
So just as you may want to seek out fit people if you’re trying to lose weight, you need to seek out supportive, go-getting, self-starters if you’re thinking about starting a practice or if you already run one. Doesn’t matter if they share your practice area or if they’re 20 years older or younger than you, but just that they share your drive and optimism. And fortunately, with blogs and listserves, this kind of supportive crowd is only an internet connection away.