Last week on the blog, we talked about how to think like a great innovator. But what if you are not an innovator? What if you are stuck going with the flow? How do you break free? Try these helpful hints and incorporate them slowly into different areas of your life and watch your results shift.
“Herd mentality” or groupthink can be defined as “a pattern of thought characterized by self-deception, forced manufacture of consent, and conformity to group values and ethics” (Merriam Webster)
By this definition, we can identify three powerful strategies to avoid the herd mentality at work or in life.
Avoid self-deception. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it well. “Whatever games are played with us, we must play no games with ourselves.” Benjamin Franklin said it even more succinctly. “Observe all men; thy self most.”
Self-awareness is a vital component to your ability to go against the flow. If you want to change the status quo, you must become a master of yourself. The greatest knowledge a person can gain is the knowledge of the lies one tells one’s self. It is not the conscious shading of the truth that causes most damage but the unconscious untruths. Surround yourself with and value those who help illuminate your blind spots. Dig them up. Hunt them down. And uncover them. Learn to tell yourself the absolute and brutal truth at all times.
Recognize Manufactured Consent
Have you heard the expression, “he’s preaching to the choir”? That is manufacture of consent. Manufactured consent is “the practice of controlling or manipulating the norms, values etc. held by an audience by controlling what they are exposed to in the media.” (dictionarycentral.com)
Combat this obstacle by seeking out a variety of information sources. News or information sources that challenge your fundamental perspectives of an issue are particularly valuable. When you confront your own biases and beliefs with information that opposes them, you become stronger. Your ideas become more clear. You communicate your opinions and perspective more concisely and effectively.
One of the most powerful questions you can ask (yourself, or anyone else) is “why?” Dedicate yourself to the task of uncovering underlying motivations for your opinions, beliefs, and actions. When your “why” comes into alignment with your core values, you become powerful. Clarity allows you to step out of the herd. When you have a clear understanding of what motivates you, you are free to choose your own path.
Self-awareness, diverse information sources and an ability to align personal and professional values with driving motivations and a sense of purpose are all keys to defeating the herd mentality. Practice these skills and you soon find yourself rising above the rest.