I had a mentor who told me to watch what the majority of people were doing, and do the exact opposite. In a culture where we value individuality yet strive to be accepted, these words of wisdom caused me to pause. I thought I knew what he meant yet was not sure what that looked like in reality.
I was leaving a shopping area the other day and the traffic just getting out of the parking lot was backed up for about fifty cars. The words of that mentor rang in my ear…watch what is happening and do the exact opposite. So I did. I turned towards the back of the parking lot, drove around the building and took a longer, more curvaceous path home. It maybe took me three or four minutes longer yet I was moving, seeing new sights, and wasn’t sitting waiting for my opportunity to turn right like everyone else.
Leaving a parking lot is an easy example of putting those words to use, doing it in everyday life can be much more difficult. There is an expected path, expected outcomes, even expected decisions. Be it our family, our employers, our friends or our communities we are ‘expected’ to do things and when we dare to do the opposite people don’t get it. When we dare to have a different option than the majority we say we have the freedom to do that yet one can feel like a criminal simply by disagreeing with the status quo.
I have heeded my mentor’s words all along my path, sometimes very publicly and in most cases very quietly. I have made choices and let my actions support what I believe, even if that means there is a growing distance between my life and those of others. I now have people asking me how we got where we are and how can they do the same? How did we do it? So I share my journey and encourage them to watch what the majority does and do the exact opposite. I encourage people to be true to themselves no matter what anyone else thinks, and know what you want. I encourage them to pause and reflect AND act accordingly. No one got ahead by doing what everyone else is doing. Dare to take the other path and forge your own way in this life.