Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. [Mark Twain]
The thing about writing, building, inventing, designing, or creating (essentially anything that requires leadership) is this: it’s not safe.
Not only do you expose yourself to the dangers of a foreign environment (leadership by its nature takes the unknown path), but you expose yourself to the most dangerous element of all: the tribe.
The tribe is a great thing when you’re in the majority – when you fit in, comply and keep quiet.
For the nonconforming leader – for the outlier in the minority – the tribe is a detriment to success, freedom and happiness.
When you fit in, comply, and keep quiet, the boss rewards you.
Your peers, likewise, accept you as an equal. And rightly so because you ARE an equal; quiet, compliant and agreeable like everyone else.
On the other hand, when you don’t play by the conventional rules, when you challenge the way things work, and when you speak up when there’s something immoral, unethical or just plain illogical, there is no reward from the tribe – in fact, there is only punishment or exile.
If you do any of those things – when you expose the weakness of the status quo - you undermine the authority figure. When you undermine any authority figure, you necessarily insult their tribe of followers.
Not only will your boss punish you, your peer group will reject and scorn you (they are, after all, the quiet compliers that, for their own safety, didn't speak up to begin with – why would they speak up to support you now?).
In an environment like this – essentially every bureaucracy that has ever existed – it doesn't pay to think creatively; it doesn't pay to be brave enough to speak up when things don’t seem right; It doesn't pay to challenge and lead and move outside the tribal boundaries.
If you do, you will be ostracized.
Because the system perpetuates itself this way, what you’re left with is an org chart of followers, safety seekers, and non-disrupters. They make very good robots for the robot factory.
You can stick with the tribe.
You can find strength in numbers.
You can reassure yourself that quiet, compliant and agreeable is a worthy existence.
Or you can step outside the tribal boundaries.
You can choose another direction.
You can decide your own path, determine your own pace and packing list, and design your own life’s journey.
The tribe won’t like it.
But we don’t need more tribes – we need more individuals.
The man who lets a leader prescribe his course is a wreck being towed to the scrap heap. [Ayn Rand]
What will you choose?
p.s. what are your thoughts on the tribe and the individual? Leave your comments below.