When I recently wrote about putting "skin" in the game, I mentioned that investment takes two primary forms—time and money—and that a proper investment in time may mean saying "no" to a lot of the things you previously spent time on, including leisure activities like television and socializing. In another recent post about crafting your influencers, I wrote about the natural tendency for behavior within social groups to converge over time, and of the need to be intentional about who you spend your time with.
These two things are related. The underlying lesson is, perhaps, obvious, but not frequently accepted and acted upon: exceptional results require exceptional behavior. And I don't mean super-human behavior. I mean different behavior.
Life is a soup of agents in action, a mass reaction of people, communities, cities, states, countries, planets, systems, galaxies ultimately striving for homeostasis on our ever-forward march toward maximum entropy and the heat death of the Universe. Dramatic? Maybe. But the point is there's an underlying force, rooted in physics, that permeates nearly every aspect of our observable reality: systems strive for balance.
This balance can take many shapes, and the propensity for actors to conform to any particular strategy depends on the system. In human relationships (and, indeed, in most relationships between animals of the same species), there is a natural tendency toward homogeneous behavior. Maximize social cohesion. Minimize unexpected actions.
And, as I previously wrote, this has been a winning evolutionary strategy. However, execution of this strategy is largely accidental for most people. We naturally fall into social groups, and conform to the behavior of those groups. If you're to be successful in crafting a cohort which fosters personal growth, you'll first need to assert the behaviors in yourself that you wish to attract in others.
You need to dance to your own tune.
The first steps are the hardest, because, at the beginning, it means stepping outside of what others perceive as your "normal" behavior. But perhaps more critically, it means stepping outside of the way you believe that others perceive you.
The fear of doing this is what we typically call shyness, and it can be hard to overcome, especially for introverts, who tend to spend most of their time in their heads, constantly churning away at various possible realities, but not always willing or able to distinguish between a possible reality and a most likely one.
But it's this willingness to first assert your own theories, judgments, and beliefs—ones potentially wholly at odds with those of your existing social group—that will allow you to constantly pursue self-development, and attract the kind of people who will help you achieve it.