The Authenticity Condition

There's an image etched into my brain, and it's the sight of the road ahead rising up to Sunwapta Pass in the Canadian Rocky Mountains as our group of 16 riders pedaled towards it.

After climbing slowly for hours, we came around a corner and saw the final approach to the pass. The road turned 90 degrees and got dramatically steeper. Impossible, I thought. My legs were already toast. Flagging down the support van was always an option, but everyone kept going.

Fate smiled on us. As we turned up the steeper incline, the wind shifted to be at our backs. The ride was still hard, but it was doable. We all made it.

Let me be honest. This was no amazing feat. Real athletes ride further without even blinking. At the top of the pass, we had covered 65 miles since morning. But we were all just decent athletes, and I'm convinced that what kept us going was largely social influence; we were, as a group, committed to reaching the top of the pass.

Social influence is the power of people interacting authentically with other people.

It can be a wonderful force for good. It can help you work harder, persevere through tough challenges, and find comfort when you doubt yourself. But this mostly happens when the people involved voluntarily embrace what's important to the group.

Social influence is a limitless source of energy for your career and life.

Social media is a category of services developed by companies. It sometimes - but not always - involves social influence.

You might call the difference the Authenticity Condition, which means that 'liking' is only powerful when people authentically like something. It's why the social media efforts of so many companies are lame beyond belief. Although people will "like" lots of things to get a chance at winning a prize, they don't actually care. That's not social media; , that's old-fashioned advertising online.

But if you can harness social influence behind something about which people deeply care, say, regaining their health or helping others in need... then you have a magnifying effect that boggles the mind. This is why I urge people to use social media with discretion, which generally means when the benefit to others outweighs the benefit to yourself.

Remember, to elevate social media to the heights of social influence, you must speak with an authentic voice.