Your brain’s way of sticking with the herd to ensure you are doing what is socially acceptable.
Why the habit exists
Follower is a social conformist. It protects you from doing anything too embarrassing or unsafe. It makes a judgement on what others are doing around you so as to maintain a social barometer on what are the most acceptable actions. Follower goes with the flow of everyone else, which can often be the majority or the most authoritative voice.
In neuroscience, this is known as the ‘bandwagon effect’, where the probability of adopting a belief increases with the number of people in the group. Follower also acts on what’s know as a ‘confirmation bias’, where we tend to predominantly listen to information that confirms our own beliefs and are put off by individuals, groups, and news sources that make us feel uncomfortable.
How it holds you back
Being part of the herd means that Follower is unlikely to stick its neck out for fear of being put on the spot and exposed. It stifles the ambition to break from the comfort of the herd and go off in search of other solutions. When Follower is motivated to discover new approaches, it will go off in search of possible solutions but will unfortunately lack the courage to alter or expand on them in any radical way. The consequences may be irrational but it’s a case of better safe than sorry.
Its favourite position is firmly on the fence. If someone else is doing it, it’s got to be a safe bet. As such, Follower simply rolls along without actively stopping to look for new answers. This is safety in numbers but great ideas don’t emanate from the masses, they are born through the people that look the other way to the herd.
How you can train it
Stop to think about whose perspective you are thinking in. We typically view things through our own 1st person perspective. The closer we are to something, the harder it is to look at it from any other angles. In life, we have targets and goals that relate personally to us, so we focus on them. To become more inventive, we need to get into the habit of switching up perspectives. Try the 2nd person by putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and understanding how they think an feel. The 3rd person, or fly on the wall, will help you see things more objectively. Other perspectives might revolve around products, services and objects themselves. Imagine they were human, what would they think and do
Look to do something unexpected. If it challenges social norms and makes people feel uncomfortable then you’re getting somewhere! Find out where the emotions lie. Exaggerate them. Make it funny, serious, happy, sad, comforting, scary and so on and see what happens.
Borrow ideas. By all means look at others for inspiration but avoid copying. There’s a big difference between following and copying. Once you’ve discovered your inspiration, find ways of making it your own and adding your own unique difference. The more influences you find, the less likely you’ll be inclined to stick too closely with just a few.
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