‘Dare to be Different’ is a two-part post. The second part will be along in a few days. I’ll post a link to it here once it’s published. I’ve one goal for you in this short series…..
To re-assess the rules you’re following in life right now (Part ONE) and put the right steps in place to finally live life on your terms and differentiate yourself from the masses (Part TWO).
It’s a lofty aim. But why shoot small? This isn’t a dress rehearsal. It’s your life!
I’m sure you’ve sat down many times to understand what’s holding you back in life. Why haven’t you fulfilled the potential or the big dreams you had when you were younger? Why haven’t your leveraged the strengths and skills you possess?
There’s a deep and long-lasting feeling of misery and pain and regret inside. The confidence you once had to conquer the world has long since gone.
You’ve been using every excuse in the book to externalise the blame. That’s only natural. I did the same myself for many years. If it takes away the pain to any extent, it’s only temporary. You know there’s something eating away at you inside.
Deep down you know what’s holding you back. It’s been nagging inside you for years. But you’ve been ignoring it. It’s hard to face up to. But, my friend, if you’re ever going to unleash your true potential in this world, you need to.
So let me tell you what you already know.
You are stopping you. It’s a bold statement. But I’m going to show you why….
I’m no psychologist, or personal development guru. But I do know from my own personal experiences that it’s true. We all self-sabotage. It sounds ridiculous I know. It flies in the face of what you’re told. Why would anyone hold themselves back from greater success? It’s a great question.
So before going any further, allow me to introduce the HERD.
Sheep. They live in a herd. They do as others do. Most animals do. It provides them security. It’s been part of their evolution for millions of years.
As humans, we’re no different. It’s protected us from extinction.
But things aren’t the same as they once were. We no longer co-exist with the threat of predators destroying our tribe. Civilisation has taken us beyond that.
There are some fundamentals of the herd mentality that still exist within us.
Your herd starts with your family. Then you create new ones at school with your teachers and the friends you make. Eventually, at work, it’s your boss and your work colleagues. Outside of work it’s your social circle.
Each one of these herds has a massive impact and influence on how you live your life.
There are some massive positives with being in the herd. It provides you with safety and security at an early age. It gives you the social outlets we all crave.
The herd provides you with the unwritten guide to being a part of their clan. They are the rules you must abide by to stay a member.
You learn from an early age the dangerous things you shouldn’t play with. At school you’re told how to behave in class. At work, you’re told how to tow the company line to get the promotion.
Whatever the situation, you know the expected behaviours. Here it is for you…..
Does any of this sound familiar? It’s a great recipe for teaching you all the things that are expected of you. You’ll know how to dress, how to speak, what to do at school, how to act at work.
Your life has been defined for you. You’ve had no input to the plan. It’s slightly worrying. No wonder there’s so many unfulfilled dreams. It’s blind obedience. You may have realised by now, but it’s even conditioned how you think.
How do you know ‘right from wrong’? How do you know what you ‘should do’ and what ‘you shouldn’t’? It’s not something that you’ve learned for yourself. It’s something you’ve been told continually over many years. All your thinking has been done for you. That’s typical of any member of a herd whether human or animal.
The rules you’ve been given by your very own herd shape your perceptions and opinions. Different herds think differently. That’s what creates different cultures. The Western culture has told you to get good grades and get a job. You think that’s the right thing to do. You know of no other way. Your herd told you that following that path would bring you success. Right?!
Think about that for a minute. Success has already been defined for you by the herd. If you get a good corporate job then you must be a success. If you get a nice house with a nice car with a nice garden then you must be a success. That’s how it was laid out to me.
And I never quite got it. I did both (the nice job and the nice house). And yes, society considered me a successful person. The only nagging problem (and I mean really nagging problem) was that I didn’t think of myself as a success at all. It made me pretty bloody miserable.
I did follow the plan. That’s what my parents, my teachers, school friends and everyone I can think of told me to do. Perhaps I was easily influenced or just wanted the comfortable life. I just followed the blueprint of the herd. Success as defined by the herd (my very own herd) was not the same success as defined by me.
That’s a problem.
There’s no doubt that the herd provides you with safety and security in numbers. No arguments from me on that one. Rather walk into a packed bar by yourself or with your mates? It’s nice to have some company when you’re out walking in the night – makes you feel a little safer don’t you think? Or think about walking into your new school for the first time – when the eyes of every single one of your new herd are cast upon you. Makes you feel a little insecure.
But, and this is a big one, the security you think you have is purely an illusion. It doesn’t really exist anymore. There’s no security or certainty in life – even within your herd. ‘Jobs for life’ don’t exist anymore. Don’t believe me? Think of what happened during the economic crisis in 2008. Think of the impact that had on those playing to the rules of the herd. Okay, it was an extraordinary period in history, but if was a sharp jolt that security in life doesn’t really exist. It’s only an illusion.
So let’s take it closer to home. Does your job make you feel pretty miserable? Are you willing to rock the status quo and actually do anything about it – perhaps even venture into something that you’re actually damn good at? This is blasphemy in the eyes of the herd. When you way up the options, which on one side mean talking that step outside your comfort zone, you decide to crawl back into your shell. It’s easier. It’s more comfortable. It’s all a little uncertain. It’s less risky.
And we’ve been advised (by you know who) that we shouldn’t be taking risks – “don’t take a risk, you’re going to lose”. It’s a lame excuse.
Think of the successful entrepreneurs or great athletes. Do you think they think this way? Safety and security to them isn’t real. It’s not something they seek. Instead, they see uncertainty as an opportunity. They give it a try. Not aimlessly. If they find that it doesn’t become a success, they iterate. They try something else. They’ll eventually find something that’s infinitely better. Something that provides them with their own success. Not the success that’s defined by the herd.
The herd provides you with a false guarantee – “Follow the rules and you’ll be happy”. You know the prescription already. But if you’re one of those that’s played the game and played by the rules, you’re probably not where you want to be – you’re not happy. You’ve been sold a dummy.
But think about the reality for a minute. How can the herd define for you the happiness that you’re looking for? You’ve been sold the dream that tells you when you’ll be happy. That’s highly unlikely to be the very same thing that actually makes you happy.
And who is the herd to tell you WHEN you’re going to be happy. Think about this…. If you do X, Y and Z then, and only then, you’ll be successful and you’ll be happy. It doesn’t matter what activity I’m talking about – the rule states that you can only be happy when you get to the goal…..
- Need to lose 40lbs so you look great on the beach this summer.
- Want to get the big promotion at work so you can purchase my dream car.
The herd tells us that you’ll only be happy when you get there. But that’s not actually the case. Here’s something profound (I think it is anyway)……
Happiness isn’t a goal. You won’t necessarily be happy if you’ve got a great body or a great job. Getting things doesn’t make you happy.
Instead….. being bloody damn good at something and doing it well and loving it will (make you happy). It’s not about the end result. It’s about what you do. It’s about you ‘daring to be different’!
So after reading this far, have you started to think about what keeps you within the confines of the herd? In terms of personal success and happiness, it’s not brought you much. So why haven’t you done something about it?
Here’s why….. you are constantly seeking approval. You want everyone to like you, even if it means you don’t like yourself too much anymore.
It sounds a little bizarre doesn’t it? But it’s so true.
Most of your day is spent fulfilling the things that are expected of you. Not necessarily because you want to do them or because it makes you happy. These are the obligations of the herd. They fill your agenda. You don’t want to step out of line, because that would make you unpopular. That’s just not the way in the herd.
You’re expected to do things in a certain way and you oblige. Other’s are expected to do things in a similar way and when they don’t you judge them. Don’t deny it. Think of an occasion when somebody stood out from the crowd – they looked different or they wore something different or they did something different.
You judged them. But you have a fear yourself of being judged. You don’t want others to think others think badly of you or think your some kind of failure. That’s why you comply even if it sacrifices your very own success.
You’ll easily forsake the risk of differentiating yourself in the short term even if you know that it’s more likely to provide you with the happiness you crave. That’s you seeking the approval of others. You need to get over it.
You may have got to this point and thought “I’m OK being mediocre. I’m OK living by the rules. I don’t need anything more.” If so, good for you. You don’t need to carry on reading this post. Just click away from this browser. Let’s say our goodbyes. I wish you well.
For the select few, there’s something missing. You want more. I know I did. I just didn’t know where to turn. There was plenty of soul searching. I didn’t know if I had the confidence to stand-up for myself anymore. What seemed so simple years ago, seemed almost impossible years later.
Sixteen years. That’s how long it took for me. And I still fight it today. I have to work at it continuously. It’s easy to follow the herd. You know that yourself now. It’s difficult to set your own rules and follow them. It’s difficult to live life on your terms…..
- Where do you start?
- What will the herd think of you?
- How do you avoid becoming an outcast?
- How do you do the stuff you’re bloody good at?
That’s the purpose of Part TWO of this mini-series. I’m going to show you how you can finally differentiate yourself from the herd. And finally, yes finally live life on your terms.
I’ll be publishing the follow up in a few days. But before then, I’d really appreciate your thoughts… Have you been struggling with the herd mentality? Is it time YOU ‘dared to be different’?
Talk Soon — DG
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