The Lone Savage: Breaking Free from Herd Mentality

If you are reading this, it’s not too late. There is still hope for originality. Men and women alike still have a choice to carve out a meaningful life. But there isn’t much time left to get moving. The world is creating new distractions daily – distractions to keep us content with average. Disguised as fun, these distractions will eat up valuable time that we could be using for self-betterment. 

As I sit here today, it’s hard not to be disgusted. The days are gone where people are championed for being original and different. There was a time where thinking “outside the box” was rewarded and encouraged. Those times now feel like a distant memory. Today, even exercising free speech can be a risky. Decisions that fly in the face on conformity, especially those that run counter to our peers, is also met with discouragement. Who is he to do something different than me? By the time we’ve entered adulthood, most of us have been mentally transformed from a freethinking optimist to a timid, tired conformist. However, it’s not too late. Let’s work through how to get our time back, and move forward into a life that is both fulfilling AND realistic.

The World is Yours: TAKE IT!

Once we accept conventional thinking as gospel, it will be brutally painful to break free and change our convictions. We become engulfed by misery disguised as fun, with each passing day blended into the next, with little deviation from routine. Our days will consistent of sleeping, eating, working and escapism. Each day serves as a reminder that we will never live free, that pleasure can only be derived from checking Facebook or watching a new TV show on Netflix. We convince ourselves that it’s too late, that we are too old to start over. We have accepted that we’ve traded in a life of choice for a life of ease. However, that ease comes with a hidden cost. Freedom.

Friends, family, social media, government; these are the “Big Four” who police the herd mentality principle. Together, they pound into our skull the need to fit in to the crowd. We are encouraged to spend all our money for possessions we don’t need, just to impress those around us. Every day, we are sub-consciously pressured to do two things:

We are pushed further and further into the abyss of the mundane. After a while, we stop trying. We’ve come to accept a life where we seek no glory, attempt no risk, and do little that will be remembered. But alas, there is a way out.

Tony Robbins, the guru of self-help, famously said, “when you’re on the side of the majority, it’s time to think and reflect on your choices.”

Following popular opinion leads to average results. Why? Because most people are average. If we follow what most people do, we will end up with the results that most people get: nothing. Our decisions will be poor, our lives – hollow. Most people don’t dare to push themselves even close to their maximum abilities. They are set in their ways, accepting of a life that they can hardly call their own due to debt, anxiety, stress, and an extreme sense of boredom. With this fixed mindset comes the excuse parade; blaming responsibility or family obligations, or worse, money, on their boring and uneventful ways. Most people never get called out for their actions, so they continue to bounce along the road to nowhere without a care in the world. School won’t help us find our way. Neither will friends and family. In fact, they will probably hold us back. To be different requires tenacity – a savage desire to be better than good enough.

It’s politically correct to be average. It is only when someone challenges social norms that they bring ridicule and scorn onto themselves. We should embrace being questioned for our decision-making. As the playwright Oscar Wilde once said, “Ridicule is the tribute paid to the genius by the mediocrities.”

To be different is to embrace controversy and criticism. We should thrive on defiance to the status quo. Damn the man who resigns himself to shameful mediocrity. Think of all the greats of times past. Every single one of them defied conventional wisdom with their achievements, They spit in the face of normal. We are all capable of so much more.

Make Your Own Decisions

From the great Illimitable Man (Champion’s Mentality):

Reality is politically incorrect, winners embrace this, losers don’t; sensibility is an expensive prison. Sensitive people tell you one thing straight from the get go without even intending to: they’re losers. Avoid sensitive people, not only do you have to waste energy watching what you do and don’t say, but seeing as they’re losers they have less to offer you.

Losers don’t have any form of narcissistic supply other than “giving advice”, their “advice” is terrible, ignore all of it. The people whose advice you really want aren’t lining up to give it to you, those who are lining up are losers nine out of ten times.

The minute we chose to live life on our own terms, expect resistance from those closest to us. We probably have more than a few people in our life who are always riding us. They are quick to criticize us, but even quicker to offer advice. They secretly enjoy it when we encounter difficulties and love nothing more than to see us suffer setbacks and embrace time wasters. Purge these types of toxic people from our life. Never forget that most advice is garbage, dictated by people who have attained nothing of value or prestige in their own lives, but feel the need to preach about what we should be doing. Nod and smile and forget everything that was said. Good advice comes with a price – it’s hard to find and harder to follow. Anything freely available should be met with extreme skepticism. Remember one of the golden rules of human nature: Most people may want to see us do good, but NEVER better than them.

Charles Darwin Quote

Success or Perception – Choose ONE

Only we can decide what is more important to us – success OR perception. Most people do a great job of pretending, but a bad job of actually achieving anything. Many achievers don’t have to flaunt their success, because they are intrinsically motivated and unconcerned with what the majority think. While the masses live out their fake lives on Facebook and Instagram, real achievers are hard at work. Ask yourself – Would you rather be the world’s best painter, but have everyone think you were the world’s worst painter? Or would you rather be the world’s worst painter, but have everyone think you’re the world’s best painter? If you had to think about that answer, you aren’t ready to escape average quite yet. 

Perception has been beaten into us our entire lives. We’ve been taught to keep up appearance. As we get older and more financially established, the pressures to conform rise even more. Social media fuels our competitive nature as we see our peers moving into big new houses, driving brand new cars, and going on exotic vacations. We begin to devalue our own lives and over-estimate the lives of those around us. This, of course, is a major societal trap that has only gotten worse with the mass adoption of social media. People often fail to realize that people fake their lives in order to seem like they have it all figured out. Little do we all know that the same people flaunting excess wealth are really debt ridden and miserable. Focus on yourself and don’t get caught in the perception trap. As hard as it seems, we must do whatever we can to refrain from excess social comparison.

Let History Be Our Guide

History is littered with great advice when it comes to avoiding the herd mentality. Rest assured this is not a new phenomenon. One can go back thousands of years to find people struggling with the same concepts. Being average has always been the default, and only those hungry enough for more ended up making a true difference.

Jose Marti was an 19th century crusader for Cuban independence, a country under Spanish rule at the time he lived. He preached on democracy, justice, liberty, and specifically freedom. He once said, “the first duty of a man is to think for himself.” Marti spent a lifetime trying to realize that dream for his native country.

Lucky for us, our freedom is not oppressed. In the West, we are lucky enough to do and say as we please, within the bounds of the law. However, most are too timid to make a bold move because they worry about what other people will think. They worry about being cast a failure and being judged. Instead, they would rather stay the course and pretend all is well in life. As long as one is perceived as successful and happy, that’s all that matters, right?

The ancient Stoic Seneca was a big believer in forging one’s own path and not falling victim to herd mentality and group think. In On The Shortness of Life, Seneca implores the reader to trust one’s own mind to deliver success:

The mind must be recalled from external objects into itself: it must trust in itself, rejoice in itself, admire its own things; it must withdraw as much as possible from the affair of others and devote its attention to itself..”

Finally, In Meditations, the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius preaches the importance of forgetting about other people’s actions and opinions:

How much trouble he avoids who does not look to see what his neighbour says or does or thinks, but only to what he does himself… look not round at the depraved morals of others, but run straight along the line without deviating from it.

Don’t concern yourself with external endeavors. Who cares about the expectations of others? Worse yet, who cares about what other people do with their lives? Social comparison plagues us all, but we must become mentally resilient enough to strike it down when we sense it coming over us. It’s imperative that we turn within, and chose instead to focus on our own desires and doing everything within our power to see things through. It will take hard work, sacrifice, and whispers among our peers. But that’s okay. Learn to thrive on the skepticism of others and we will be well on our way towards fulfillment. Get started today, and little by little you will break free of the chains of mediocrity.

Final Thoughts

Breaking free from average has never been more difficult. Yet, at the same time, there has never been more opportunities for someone looking to go their own way. This is the greatest time to be alive. Technology has allowed each one of you a platform to grow and evolve. You can be anything you wish, as long as you embrace hard work and ruthlessly take your time back from time wasting people and activities. It won’t happen overnight, but you have the abilities to stop wasting time with average people, average jobs, and average distractions.

The best feeling in the world is when you realize you have no obligation to please anyone in life. There is never any need to seek the approval of others. Compete with yourself and only yourself. Be better than you were yesterday. Make your weaknesses your best qualities. Too many people are slaves to the opinions of others. Stay in the shadows and screw all the noise.

Screenshot 2015-11-21 at 12.56.17 PM

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