“Be yourself, everyone else is taken.” Oscar Wilde
Be authentic: We are living in the world where there has never been so much of a seduction to be like everyone else. There has never been so much influence and hypnosis through the social media, society to talk in a certain way, walk in a certain way, buy certain things, to measure your success by the same philosophy. I encourage you with this quote to be yourself, talk your talk, walk your walk, take the time to reflect on your dream. Be true to your own values because life’s greatest heartbreak is self-betrayal.
Why do we copy others? Let me use the following example for clarity.
You’re exploring a city where you’ve never been before, but you find yourself hungry and don’t know any good restaurant. As you walk to find a decent place, you encounter two restaurants, one that is empty and the other one is filled with locals, what would you do? Surely, it makes sense to pick the one that’s full of locals. In simple words, you copy the locals’ behaviour.
Walk on a busy sidewalk, suddenly stop and look upwards, there will be people who would do the same. Next time, take four friends with you and look upward again, the percentage of people looking upward would increase too. It’s an illustration to see how social proof persuades people to behave in certain ways.
It’s the uncertainty that takes us to a place where we tend to look to others for the answers as to how should we act, think and behave. Social proof is the desire to behave in a correct manner that fits with others. It is also known as ‘Herd Instinct’ which dictates that a person feels that they’re behaving correctly when they act the same as other people.
Social Proof exists in management techniques, hobbies, religion, diets and fashion. We carried it throughout the evolution of becoming social animal from hunter gatherer. It made sense to follow the social proof some 50,000 years ago as we needed it for the survival but in the 21st century it can be problematic too.
Firstly, the group-thinkers could reach to the wrong side of conclusion and make decisions that serves no good for the humanity. Secondly, It can manipulate people to make choices they didn’t even want to make on the first place.
If you are still here and looking for the solution to overcome this bias, then adopt a sceptical attitude. Be sceptical when you received a call and the other person says, ‘this product is exceptional because it’s the most popular.’ Measure the Quality over Quantity.
Veli Ndaba is a NeuroEngineering Leadership Effect Speaker and Trainer, Brain Coach and Author of four books (You Are Born to Win, Your Dream is Calling You and SWITCH ON! And Set Your Soul On Fire!) and Newspaper Columnist. To book him to speak at your next event or to help you and your team unleash your greatness, contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org, www.velindaba.com or +27 83 304 9773