Saturday, January 7, 2012

Who are you rooting for?

I'm starting this blog post with a quote from the ever-quotable Seth Godin...

We say we want to root for the underdog, but actually, we want to be seen as rooting for whomever everyone else is rooting for
The need to belong, to feel that we are part of something, is a strong influencer over our behaviour.  Often, following the crowd is 'easier' then taking the time to think something through fully on our own.  We don't have the time (or perhaps the interest) and we therefore go along with everyone else.  It's almost a knee-jerk reaction. 

Perhaps going along with everyone else stems more out of a desire to:
  • Avoid confrontation.  We know that others will push back if we don't agree and we just don't want the hassle!
  • Be liked.  Let's face it, many of us like to be liked.  We care what others think.  As a result, we go along with the group in an effort to be seen as someone similar, someone that they will perhaps call a friend.
  • Not rock the boat.  Taking a stand takes energy.  We have too much on our plate already, we don't particularly care about the issue at hand, or perhaps we just want to strategically curry favour.  In either event, going along with others maintains the status quo, which serves us in the moment.
  • Not have to think.  Yep, sometimes it's just this simple... we let others do our thinking for us.
If we do any of the first three items above - deliberately and strategically - I don't take issue with it.  As long as you are consciously making a choice in those responses (that will hopefully net you positive results down the line) then I'm good. Note though, I still expect you to accept the consequences of those choices! 

However, if you are simply operating in default mode, going along with others because you don't want to think for yourself...  then we need to talk!  These are the folks that are less likely to accept any responsibility for their actions.  They will place blame on the others around them before they will ever accept that they too engaged in the same behaviour.   Letting others think for you will lead you to living someone else's life, supporting someone else's values and beliefs.

Rather, we need to ensure we are clear about what is important to us.  By understanding our values and beliefs more fully, we are then able to weigh our decisions and actions against them, choosing those options that work in alignment with our values.  Doing so might not always prove to be the easiest choice, or the most popular choice, but in the long run it will almost always prove to be the choice that allows us to feel best about ourselves. 

Saying no to you might mean that you don't like me much but... if by saying no to you I am living in alignment with my beliefs and values, what's important to me... then I like me just fine and for me, that's more than enough.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
—Martin Luther King, Jr.

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