Are You Following the Crowd…or Your Inner Wisdom?
By Jennifer Baltz
ABC Primetime once aired a story called Why do People Follow the Crowd? Neuroscientist Gregory Berns, M.D. began by asking subjects questions comparing geometric shapes. Most participants gave correct answers on a written test, but they began to doubt and change their answers when brought into a group where everyone else consistently and deliberately gave incorrect answers!
Using an fMRI, Dr. Berns discovered the area lighting up in the brain was where vision is interpreted…not where decisions are made. For those who spoke out contrary to the group, the fear center lit up, too. It felt safer to perceive as the group perceived, even if it was wrong.
Although this “groupthink” skill evolved to keep us alive, it can backfire and allow people to turn a blind eye to what they know is wrong because the majority sees it differently. It also can prevent us from trying new things, setting bold goals, or developing innovative ideas.
For health and wellness, it is often necessary to step away from the crowd to achieve optimum health and vitality. This is not only because “the crowd” is generally not eating or exercising for health, but also because going against your core values and inner knowing is incredibly stressful. It erodes self confidence and self esteem.
We are strongest, most vital, and most able to effect lasting change when we are in alignment with our core.
It’s not easy. Your brain wants to take the well-traveled road, even when your inner wisdom knows you must travel your own path.
Support along the way can make the difference. A great coach can help you not only to stay focused on your big picture goals, but also to develop your unique strategy to get there.
Coaching Tip: To encourage your own innovative perceptions, inner wisdom, and mental flexibility:
- Choose to have new experiences and explore different environments.
- Embrace the discomfort of being “new,” no matter what your age or experience.
- Notice when you find yourself changing your perception to match a group.
- If you are in a leadership role, encourage disagreement and discussion in your team for better overall decisions.