The term “6 Degrees of Separation” originated from the 1960s experiment by psychologist Stanley Milgram. Milgram sent letters to just fewer than 300 randomly selected people in Nebraska and Kansas, asking the receiver to help insure the letter made its way to a specific stockbroker in Boston.
Participants were asked to NOT send the letter directly to the stockbroker, but to send it along to someone whom they knew on first name terms and they thought might know the stockbroker.
29% of the letters eventually reached the stockbroker. There tended to be just 6 people linking the initial volunteer with the stockbroker – thus giving rise to the popular notion that we are all connected by just 6 degrees of separation.
In 2003 Dr. Wiseman, set out on his own Small World Experiment with the result of 10% of his packages reaching the intended receiver within an average of 4 connections. With the expansion of the internet, phone networks and travel opportunities has the already small world shrunk even more?
In Wiseman’s study of lucky people he discovered that “lucky people” experience this small world phenomenon more frequently than “unlucky” people and these “lucky” meetings have a dramatic and positive effect on their lives. Lucky people are better connected to others; they know more people and are able to tap into more people which create more opportunities for “luck” in their lives.
On a personal note I have always been interested in Milgram’s experiment, but until reading Wiseman’s work did not understand how I could increase the odds of this working in my favor. From these studies I have 3 Critical Take Aways:
- Increase My Circle. Make it a point to get to know a new person or solidify a relationship in my life each and every day. It is not only important to know people, but to be or have them top of mind.
- Know People by Their 1st Name. I make it a point to use people’s first names when I speak with them so I remember their name and others who may have missed it or forgotten it are reminded. And I heard it said that the sweetest word to a person’s ear is their own name, so let it be in my voice.
- Tap into My Network. It is important to let people know what is happening in my life and invite them to participate. Many people want to be a part of one’s success and often want to claim a role in the success. I will let them…I mean really…nothing happens simply because I made it so…we all play a role in each other’s lives. Some contribute something, some inspire, some challenge, some connect us together, and others do even other things.
We are all on this planet together. By staying connected we shrink the world and create opportunities for each other. Apply these 3 Take Aways to your life and let’s see how your world shrinks and your opportunities expand.