Human beings are hard-wired to conform. Back in the hunter-gatherer days you had to conform because if you didn’t you’d become a social outcast and that basically meant you spent a lot of time alone. No one would make friends with the guy or gal that had been relegated as unfit for the community for fear that they too would be tarnished with the same brush.
Even now, the more homogenous a society is, the more you feel the pressure to conform. I grew up within a homogenous culture back in Malawi. Everyone pretty much had the same core beliefs so if you thought differently you just kept it to yourself. You wouldn’t admit you were an atheist or gay for instance, you would just keep it to yourself.
Even then, some of my closest friends were gay but it was a secret that you kept sealed tight. As for not believing in a God, I had such strong views on the matter (I didn’t understand why you wouldn’t believe in God) that it took me about 7 years of living in Britain – a very Cosmopolitan country – to get my head around it being acceptable to be agnostic or simply not to believe. Anyway, I digress.
WHY DO WE CONFORM?
We conform because we want to be liked. That is the key reason.
We want to be part of a community. We want social approval. Our own self-worth and value tends to be so wrapped up in what people think of us.
WHY COULD IT BE BAD TO CONFORM?
Unfortunately, conforming is what keeps many people in wage slavery or stops them pursuing their dreams – we’re afraid to take massive action or even to take small risks because of what people might say.
Quitting a job to start a business is a massive risk and a couple of negative comments are enough to discourage most people from taking the chance to create something special.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO GET RID OF THE FEAR OF DOING SOMETHING DIFFERENT
Stop caring what everyone thinks.
When someone gives you an opinion, you have no idea why they are offering that particular perspective.
Everyone sees life from a different point of view and everyone has different goals. Compromising your dreams based on other people’s opinions isn’t a good strategy for personal growth. Frequently, the people that will stop us are our very own parents; parents tend to be massively afraid of children breaking from societal norms.
Good examples of people who believed enough in their dreams to stop conforming.
She is the founder of Spanx. In a Bloomberg Game Changers documentary I watched about her she revealed that she was so afraid of people thinking her idea was stupid that she told no one about it until it was already rolling. Now, she is the youngest ever female entrepreneur to build a billion-dollar company. She succeeded with real products when everyone else was going into tech. You have got to admire that.
He is a school dropout from a poor family in southern India and he completely revolutionised menstrual health for rural women in developing countries by inventing a simple machine for making cheap sanitary pads.
It took him years to get to the perfect design. People laughed at him and called him weird as he carried out research on menstrual periods and it all culminated in his wife leaving him because he had become a social pariah. The irony was he started on this entrepreneurial path to help his wife.
I have massive admiration for this guy.
I’m giving you just two examples here but I could give you many more. I could even talk about my own life and the mocking that I went through in high school but I chose to use third-party examples. I hope these people inspire you to take some risk, to stop conforming and to ultimately take the massive actions that will buy your financial freedom.
The Indian sanitary pad revolutionary, BBC
How to fail your way to your first $1 billion, Entrepreneurs Institute
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Ms. Katsonga on Wealth