Have you ever met someone who set a course in life based on how many others are doing the same thing? Such individuals rarely seek to MAKE a difference – rather they tend to AVOID being “different” as much as possible. They do not seek alternative solutions (often failing to even attempt identifying problems, investigating their root cause and acting to resolve them IF they even admit to there being something amiss), they tend to take the path of least resistance and “go where others are going” or focus on the “wrongs” of others so their questionable actions seem much more “right.” Some feel that the ONLY way to travel somewhere is along paved superhighways, seeking the most direct route to a destination rather than finding “joy in the journey” along a scenic back road or unimproved path. To those of you finding comfort in the familiar – being content to travel upon roads previously discovered while refusing to challenge the status quo – the rest of this article may hold little value. To those, however, seeking to forge their own path as they investigate new opportunities and discover alternative rewards, these thoughts are written as testimony to your creativity and innovation – to your insatiable spirit of adventure and love for life.
Far too many people diminish their potential by following the crowd (and even, perhaps, being seen as doing what is “right and prudent”) rather than following their own beliefs (intentionally acting upon their thoughts and feelings rather than refusing to acknowledge their existence). They do what is popular rather than standing strong on their own values, judgments and decisions. They choose acceptance by the majority rather than the criticism that standing alone might initiate. “Followers” accept that “things are as they should be” rather that seeking what “could be.” They feel validated by thinking, “I am no different than anyone else” rather than believing, “I am a unique individual whose potential is limited only by my own actions and behaviors.”
Following the crowd is easy as you do what others accept, go where others are going, act as others expect and find a sense of community by blending in. Travelling familiar roads and doing “politically correct” or “acceptable things” can take the bumps and turns out of one’s journey BUT when we do things as they have always been done we can expect nothing more than has already been accomplished. Only when we accept that unexpected results will come ONLY when we seek to create a different reality than that chosen by the crowd will we realize that loss can become gain, failure can breed success, and the decision to stop can be both a conclusion and a beginning. Followers of a crowd tend to accept the group’s vision as a final destination rather than as a foundation upon which an unrealized future could be built.
Too many supervisors seek acceptance from those they lead rather than respect. Too many parents seek to be friends with their children rather than to be role models. Too many teachers want to be “liked” by their students rather than viewed as being “tough but fair.” Inventors and creators DO NOT accept “common knowledge” as being an ultimate end – rather they see what is (and what has been) as but the beginning of what could be or has not yet come to fruition. Had Fulton listened to “common wisdom” he would never have invented the steam engine. Could the Wright brothers have launched their dreams had “the crowd” influenced their actions by inhibiting their souls? Is our nation stronger and more stable because our leaders make decisions based on polls that measure what the majority thinks should be done – often choosing the more acceptable route rather than doing what might negatively affect those not fully contributing but best for the nation? Might we be in a better place if our leaders simply governed by bringing the promises made to the people that elected them to fruition rather than acting in a “politically correct” manner that would re-elect them?
What might YOU be able to accomplish – what potential might you be able to realize – if you “marched to your own drummer” rather than listening to the tunes sung by others? Make the most of your individuality in whatever you may say or do by taking “the plunge” this summer! Though not as refreshing a jump as entering a cool lake on a hot day, you will find “being all you can be” is much more fulfilling (and rewarding) than being “all that your friends wish you were.” Forging your own path may require more work than taking the road of least resistance BUT the rewards will more than offset the increased effort as you achieve greatness in both your dreams AND your reality.