There are a few questions we ask ourselves when it’s time to make a tough decision and we may not even do it consciously.
How will this make me look?
What will they say?
What will people think!?
You don’t actually say these words, but you think in this way.
When I started my transition from living with blind hope that one day I would be a success and do work that gave me a sense of fulfillment and happiness… to actively searching for my purpose, I was afraid.
I was afraid of what people would think. What would they say to me when I would tell them that I could’t take it any longer? That I was about to walk away from a job to which I studied in school for? What would they say to me when I would tell them that I would rather mow lawns for a living than spend another day behind that cubicle? They would think I was nuts.
And worse yet, they would laugh when I told them I was doing it to pursue my dream of being an inspirational speaker and writer.
I was “good-time Charlie” on the weekends and I made people laugh. I led the charge when it came time to break into a football stadium at night or climb the roof of the house at a party. What the hell did I know about inspiring others? They didn’t know I had a single serious bone in my body. And they never would have if I had crumbled to my fear, conformed, and never took the step.
In 1951 social psychologist Solomon Asch devised an experiment to examine the extent to which pressure from other people could affect one’s perceptions.
In his experiment, he asked all of the subjects in the room questions to very simple answers. Only 1 subject was actually clueless, the rest of the “students” in the room were in on the experiment and purposefully answered incorrectly to some of the obvious questions.
To Asch’s surprise, 37 of the 50 subjects conformed themselves to the ‘obviously erroneous’ answers given by the other group members at least once, and 14 of them conformed on more than 6 of the ‘staged’ trials. When faced with a unanimous wrong answer by the other group members, the mean subject conformed on 4 of the ‘staged’ trials.
The results were disturbing to Asch.
“The tendency to conform in our society is so strong that reasonably intelligent and well-meaning young people are willing to call white — black. This is a matter of concern. It raises questions about our ways of education and about the values that guide our conduct.”
In other words, we are so afraid of what people will think of us if we stray off the well beaten path that we will forfeit the one life we have and the pursuit of our unique dream, just so people will “like” us. Just so people don’t think we are weird.
I would like to encourage you to be different.
Be more afraid to forfeit your dreams than of what people will think of you.
I truly believe that even when I am 110 years old, I will still attempt to break out of my adult care home and break into a football stadium. Nothing beats a cold beer while lying on your back, on a soft artificial turf, underneath a moon lit sky with country playing on the radio. I will always have that “immaturity” in me. But never again will I let what others believe me to be, keep me chained to that reality.
Whatever it is you want to do or be, no matter who you are now, go for it!
There is a better way to live!