“Be willing to be uncomfortable. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. It may get tough, but it’s a small price to pay for living a dream.”
Peter McWilliams (Author, You Can’t Afford The Luxury Of A Negative Thought)
“Sometimes you’ve got to be able to listen to yourself and be okay with no one else understanding.”
Christopher Barzak (Author, One for Sorrow)
“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”
Aristotle (Greek Philosopher and Scientist)
The lifeguards yelled for everyone to get out of the water.
They kept yelling until over 1,000 people were standing on the edge of the beach.
I was 10 years old and had never seen anything like this before.
What was going on?
Two groups of five lifeguards got into separate parts of the lake, held hands, and started combing through the water.
Two other lifeguards were going through the crowds of people on the beach asking questions.
What were they looking for?
Like everyone else, I was annoyed that I had to get out of the lake and stand on the hot sand with the sun beating down on me.
But my annoyance turned into concern as I slowly realized the lifeguards might be looking for someone who was drowned or drowning.
“Have any of you seen a kid named Isaiah?”
One of the lifeguards asked us.
I was standing on the beach with my parents and a few of my friends.
A little earlier my friends and I had been playing on a dock in the middle of the lake.
We were jumping off of it and diving underneath it to look for rocks and coins.
As soon as the lifeguard said my name my heart sunk.
I knew exactly what was going on.
The lifeguards thought I had drowned.
I found out later that one of them saw me dive under the dock but didn’t see me come back up on the other side.
I looked up at my parents, bracing for their fury.
But they were too stunned to say anything.
So I looked over at one of my friends who was standing with me.
He was one of the more popular kids in school who would sometimes hang out with me and sometimes wouldn’t.
He started laughing hysterically.
“You’re looking for Isaiah?! He’s right here HAHAHAHA!”
I didn’t know what to do so I started laughing too.
That didn’t go over well.
I was banned from the beach for the rest of the summer and grounded for a month.
I still feel bad about laughing.
I can’t remember why I laughed.
I just remember it feeling like the right thing to do at the time.
What Is Groupthink?
Groups are slow and reactive.
Studies published in Science magazine on groupthink, or herd mentality, show that humans and other animals respond to external changes with very low levels of cognition.
Large groups are often led, not by the conscious choices of each individual, but by a mob-like collection of dull, subconscious responses.
Other studies published in Nature magazine on leadership and decision-making show that adding more intelligent people to a group does not help the group achieve its goals any faster.
For example, a group of 200 people will perform the same whether 10 or 100 of them are intelligent.
In other words, when it comes to achieving your personal goals, fitting into a group is often the worst thing you can do.
This is because fitting in puts you at the mercy of the group’s desires.
While your desires may be specific and rational, the group’s desires are vague and often irrational.
As a result, group decisions frequently lack creativity, accuracy, and individual responsibility.
This practice of thinking and making decisions as a group is called groupthink.
The only way to avoid groupthink is by rejecting the group and learning to think on your own.
3 Strategies For Overcoming Herd Mentality
Trying to fit into a larger group does not benefit you or the group.
Standing out is the only way to reach your fullest potential. It’s also the only way to help others reach their fullest potential.
If you think fitting in will help you get ahead in life, you’re wrong.
Fitting in will cause you to make false assumptions and incorrect decisions.
Conformity is leadership suicide. It’s impossible to conform and be a leader at the same time.
Leadership requires differentiation.
No matter what you set out to do, achieving your goal will require you to differentiate yourself from the group.
The best way to do this is not by working harder to create distance, but by working smarter to create perspective.
The goal is not to isolate yourself, but to be yourself.
By being an individual, you’ll stand out and gain a broader perspective on your life.
Never forget—you are biologically wired to conform. Your instinct to follow the herd will affect every decision you make until the day you die.
You can’t negate this urge to conform, but you can manage and overcome it.
The key is recognizing when you’re making decisions based on other people’s desires versus your own and developing strategies to correct this.
Here are 3 strategies for overcoming conformity and avoiding groupthink…
1. Know who you are.
The only way to differentiate yourself from the group is to develop your identity.
Your identity shouldn’t fit the mold of anyone or anything else.
You should be different.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should isolate yourself or act like a jerk so no one wants to be around you.
It means you should take time to figure out who you are, what you want, and how you want to live your life.
Only then will you be in a position to remove the negative people from your life and instead, surround yourself with positive and like-minded people.
Connecting with like-minded people and fitting in with a group are two different things.
As counter-intuitive as it might seem, trying to fit in will actually prevent you from authentically connecting with other people.
When you choose to be yourself and stick out, you’ll attract friends who are truly like you—the real you.
Instead of influencing you to be someone your not, true friends will naturally force you to be yourself.
Don’t make the mistake of compromising on yourself to fit in.
Don’t slowly give away who you really are in the hopes of pleasing others.
Take a stand and define who you are and what you want, without compromise and without apology.
2. Get comfortable with conflict.
Your success in life is proportional to the number of uncomfortable situations you’re willing to put yourself in.
Too many people allow themselves to cowardly conform to the people they hang out with the most.
Without realizing it, they start aligning their thoughts and actions with the people they work with or the people they live with.
This is a mistake.
You should never allow yourself to passively align with anyone or anything other than the personal goals you’ve actively mapped out for your life.
The problem is, staying true to your personal goals is hard.
This is because the biological urge to conform and follow the herd is very strong. And if you don’t conform, the herd will react.
The group will pressure you to fit in by making your life uncomfortable until you do.
The only way to protect yourself against this kind of social pressure is to beef up your resistance to it.
You need to start getting comfortable with conflict.
You need to start getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.
The more you differentiate yourself from any group, the more the group will fight against you.
There is absolutely no way to avoid this.
The best you can do is to develop better and better strategies for dealing with confrontation.
The key is to actively put yourself in the middle of adversity and negative situations.
By routinely dealing with confrontation, you can rise above it.
By gaining perspective over negative situations, you protect yourself from making decisions that are good for others but not-so-good for you.
3. Disagree before you agree.
Defiance helps liberate yourself and others from social pressure.
The Solomon Asch experiment was first conducted in 1951 when Asch, the psychologist, brought together small groups of college students for a “visual perception study.”
But instead of testing visual perception, the study was really testing the effects of conformity and social proof.
During the experiment, every student, except one, was a planted actor who knew the nature of the experiment.
The actors were instructed to give incorrect answers to very simple questions that involved matching black lines on white cards.
The real subject, who was the only one not aware of the real experiment, was asked each question after hearing the planted actors’ answers.
Again and again (up to 36% of the time), the real subject knowingly answered incorrectly against clear visual evidence in order to fit in with the group.
This is the equivalent of saying the sky is green just because four other people said it first.
But that wasn’t the end of the overall experiment.
The part you rarely hear about is what happened when another actor was planted in the group and instructed to provide a truthful answer in the face of a misleading majority.
Studies reported in Asch’s Scientific American paper show that one truthful person defying the majority dropped the error rate from 36% to 5.5%.
In other words, all it took was one person to disagree with the majority to free someone else from the social pressure they were feeling.
This is the liberating power of defiance.
The pressure to agree with any group is intense. The pressure to agree with even one person can be very strong.
This is why so many people find themselves passively agreeing with others during group meetings or even one-on-one conversations.
Then these same people wonder why they never quite stand out for a promotion at work or reach any of their personal goals in life.
If you want to start getting ahead in life, stop blindly agreeing with people.
Stop nodding and saying “yes” just because it’s easier than disagreeing with someone.
Instead, disagree first.
Question what other people are saying.
By disagreeing, you’ll engage your brain more consciously and force yourself to consider what’s being said or done.
There’s no harm in doing this because you can always agree later.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make in life is ignoring the fact that social pressure exists. Instead, you should face this pressure head on by developing strategies for managing and overcoming it. You must actively define who you are and what you want. The stronger your identity, the less the group can affect you. You must also get comfortable with conflict. When you start following your own desires over the desires of the group, the group will come against you. Don’t shy away from this. Relish it. Invite it. Finally, you must trust yourself and stop blindly agreeing with everyone. Don’t be afraid to disagree first and question what others are saying.
To learn more about overcoming groupthink, social pressure, and herd mentality to be successful, and to get instant access to exclusive training videos, case studies, insider documents, and my private online network, get on the Escape Plan wait list.