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How Conformity Stifles Our Success

November 9th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments
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Stream Neil Smith trailWhen we come into this world we are clean slates with very little written on them.  As we grow, we mirror those around us.  This is a learning mechanism that is hardwired into primates.  As we watch someone do something our brain fire off the same neurons that would fire if we were doing it ourselves, rather than only watching.  We are programmed to imitate other people.  We are wired for conformity, which stifles our success. 

As a learning tool, it is very effective.  By doing this, we create our reality.  Communities are formed that hold similar beliefs.  We are discouraged from too much individualism.  We tend to stay in the same social and economic groups as those that we spend most of our time with, unless we make a conscious effort to break out of that mold.

We tend to see things the way we feel is more advantageous to our lives.  That gives us a feeling of control. The draw back of this mirror learning system is that we will do anything to conform.  In study, they took 8 people.  7 of those people were a plant by those running the experiment.  They were all told to look at figure A which was a 2 inch line, figure B which was a 3 inch line and figure C which was a 4 inch line.  They were suppose to say which lines were identical.  The 7 plants all agreed that figure C was the same as figure A.  Even though that answer was obviously wrong.  The 8th person, who was not a plant, agreed with the 7.  They went against what they knew was true so they could conform with the group. This is called confabulation. 

Many, many years ago, man believed that we were the center of the universe.  Heaven resided above man and hell was in the center of the earth, or below man.  For years, this was the accepted belief.  The church used this belief to control the behavior of its flock.  When Copernicus came up with the theory that the sun was the center and earth only circled around it, he was banned and imprisoned for heresy.  He went against the system and stopped conforming to a belief that he knew was incorrect.  Because he and others knew and stood up for their beliefs, we now know that the earth is such a small part of the overall picture of our universe.

How we structure our beliefs and set up our environment and  our relationships sets the groove in our lives.  It is much like a river.  If we continue to follow and conform we will cut a groove into our lives like that river.  When the path of that river is so entrenched, it is difficult to leave that flow and carve out a new direction.

It is more comfortable to agree with the 7 people who say that a 2 inch line is 4 inches even when you know it is really 4 inches.  When you choose to buck the system and create an environment of wealth and satisfaction you will be going against the flow.  People will become uncomfortable with you because the tactics that have always worked to control you in the past will no longer be effective. 

A wealthy mindset doesn’t conform.  It belongs to the person who doesn’t try to impress others.  They don’t care what others think.  There is no reason to show off with their bigger toys or houses.  That is the thinking of the competitive mind and not the creative mind.

Many achievements in human history have been made by the person or people who were willing to step outside the river of conformity.  They stepped into a thought and idea that revolutionized the way things are done.  Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, the Wright Brothers, Henry Ford, and Bill Gates, just to name a few, suffered the condemnation of others to bring their idea to fruition.  We would like to have what they have.  But, until we develop the philosophy of “I will do today what others don’t so I can have tomorrow what others won’t”, we will drift like a leaf on the river of conformity.


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  1. November 9th, 2009 at 18:53 | #1

    Nice site. There

  1. November 22nd, 2009 at 08:30 | #1
  2. November 22nd, 2009 at 08:44 | #2