Lately, it seems folks are more passionate about absolute positions rather than seeing that every situation has a Crayola 164 crayon box of shades of gray. And once signed onto that position, they dig in their heels and are nearly impossible to convince otherwise, despite facts to the contrary. Regardless of the position, there are so many to choose from: democrat or republican; vaccinated or not; remote work, hybrid work or no work at all (!); Harley Davidson or BMW; McDonalds or Burger King; Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts… The list is as endless and varied as we all are. The positions once chosen often lead to passionate debates; which, depending on the topic and participants, can be good natured or can quickly turn dangerous. We all want to be part of a “club” and to do so we may find ourselves engaging in activities or behaviors to be accepted by peers. This phenomenon is known as the bandwagon effect or groupthink. I just call it “taking the path of least resistance” and “following the herd” 😊. So, what happens if we choose to voice a different opinion and step away from the herd? Are we seen as different and no longer accepted? Or are we missing out?
Like everything else, it depends. If you decide you are against something or someone without direct experience with it or them then yes, you are certainly at risk of missing out. Without experiencing something directly, how can you decide you don’t like it?! But for higher stake matters, like things that challenge your ethics and beliefs, it’s more important in the long run to stay true to yourself regardless of the outcome. A friend was recently frustrated with a work situation. At its core, it’s one we are all familiar with. For various reasons (e.g., maintaining status quo, lack of willingness to rock the boat and/or turf protection), she is dealing with road blockers, making it difficult to complete a project. To get past these blocks, she has had to take the unpopular view and position for what she believes is right, even though it’s against the crowd It’s a hard position to be in and one that just doesn’t feel good. But a gal’s gotta do what a gal’s gotta do…..or so I’m told! 😊.
It’s easier in the short term to go along with everyone else and to feel accepted. We want to belong and fit in with a group, and often fear rejection or ostracism if we do not conform to group behavior or beliefs. But blindly following the crowd can have negative consequences both for us and others. Sometimes, we must step away from the crowd and lean into our beliefs and values to do the right thing regardless of the consequences. We may be unpopular with our crowd, but the interesting thing is there is always another crowd of individualists that you can become part of. And, maybe standing up for our beliefs and values may inspire others to do the same.
“The one who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The one who walks alone, is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been.” – Albert Einstein
What road will you travel this weekend?
Have a great weekend.