When we spot the group of people we think are smarter than the rest of the herd, we tend to follow them. What about your own preferences?
I admit I've done it too many times. Following others. And too many times, it has led me in the wrong direction. In some cases, I've walked in the wrong directions for a long, long time. And now, it takes a long, long time to recover from it.
But then, there were the cases when I've managed to tear off from the instinct of following the heard. What usually happens then is that I find another, much smaller group of people, and I start to follow them instead.
For this smaller group of people, I usually think they must be smarter than a heard, they are taking another path, and I like this path. So I follow. Wait a minute, I follow again? Didn't I just say that I should reconsider the following others?
Here is an example that explains it well. Last weekend, I was in the woods, taking a hike with my daughter, her friends, and parents. We took a trail that is not far away from our home. It's autumn, the days are shorter, and we wanted to seize the day for walking and not driving far away.
The day was beautifully sunny and pleasantly warm. Ideal for walking, so it enticed many other people from the town to walk this trail. I've never had to park the car so far away from the trail start.
It was a nice walk, though, and the wood is beautiful, bathed in many different leaves colors. But one thing I've missed. And it was the sun. I mainly decided to go out on that day for the sun. In the woods, we caught only a glimpse of it, though, not its full potential.
I remembered that experience, and I told my wife about it later at home. How nice a walk it was, but how I missed the sun warming my face.
Oops, I Did it Again
The next weekend has come. After the foggy morning and some low clouds that kept for too long on the sky, the sun blessed this early afternoon. It is not that pleasantly worm any more, but if directly on the sun, you can feel it heat warming you.
This time my wife went for a walk with our daughter and her friend. I've got the opportunity to walk alone, which I miss sometimes and love to do occasionally.
This time I've decided to take a trail I've never tried before. I often saw other, smaller groups of people taking this trail when I passed by.
So I went there and started to walk. Other people were walking too, but in a much lower number than the trail, I've walked the last weekend. I felt good about my choice, like a member of the "chosen" group. We are smarter than all that herd walking that other, overcrowded path.
But after fifteen minutes of walking, I started to feel something is missing. Suddenly, I remembered my last weekend experience. It was the sun I'm missing again. The trail was leading deeper and deeper downhill, where there was no sun at all. I was just able to watch the sunlight on the trees high above me jealously.
I started to question my choice and realized I'm again just the follower. I've decided to follow the small group of people because I figured out they have to be smarter than others taking that other path. But I didn't consider the whole picture. I didn't ask myself how does the complete solution that I want looks like. I subconsciously kicked out the sun from my equation for that day as I blindly decided to follow the "smarter" minority.
When I finally conceive it, I turned around (after already half an hour of walking) and went back uphill, where I've managed to catch the last fifteen minutes of sun shower for that day.
I'm grateful for the experience, though. Having it in writing here, I count on it as an everlasting reminder to pick my own choice no matter how smart other people's intentions may seem to me.
Can you recognize yourself in those lines? How often do you follow others for the sake of being a member of the heard? To get the recognition of others.
Instead, isn't it valid to question if their choice is your choice too? Even if it's only one person's example in front of you. Even if it's your best friend who you respect and admire. Even then, the best choice is to question your preferences. Are they met fully? Or you satisfy with fulfilling your desires only partly just to follow the others?
Collaborate and cooperate with other people; it's necessary to be fulfilled as a human. But be conscious of your choices too. Dare to include the AND in your equation. Follow the smart choices AND have your own preferences in it. Remember the story above and ask yourself where the sun is. 🙂