Behaviour is Public and Thoughts are Private- 4 mins
How to make the private public?
Remember the time in class, when at the end of the lecture the professor asked if anyone has any questions regarding the subject, that you so dear-heartedly love by the way, but you did not raise your hand or speak a word, because no one else in the class did so, even though you had thousands of questions to ask? It does not happen only in the classroom. It happens everywhere. Why we do not sit down on the last free seat on the tram, when other people are standing nearby ? Well, something has to be wrong with that chair if those people are not sitting down but rather just standing — meanwhile they are just waiting for the next stop to get off the tram and go on to their busy lives. It is a pretty common phenomenon and there is an explanation for it!
I recently read a great book, that goes by the title of Contagious — Why Things Catch On, written by Jonah Berger. He is an Associate Professor of Marketing at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. The book is about virality, which can be applied to our everyday lives as well, and not just marketing. He made a really good point about the above mentioned problem, and made me really think about it — that’s how this post was born.
First of all, why do we make assumptions about what others think, without even reflecting on our own ideas and thoughts before? Because behaviour is public, but thoughts are private. We have no way of telling what others might know, think, or feel, but we can certainly see what they are doing. This behavior is rather bad and turns us into something that I call: a sheep. A sheep that does not really decide for itself, does not make conscious, independent choices, but rather follow the herd — when that happens, we are not in control of our thoughts and behaviours anymore.
Second of all, people create barriers around themselves. They live their lives be controlled by various social norms. We have to break down this barrier that we built up by trying to fit into them and try to shape our lives, ourselves! There are no such thing as “social norms” — they are just beliefs. Beliefs that can turn our behaviour into something that does not reflect our own personality. Turn your private thoughts into public ones — either by raising your voice, writing that long expected book or shaping an idea that has been boggling your mind for months now. Go ahead and craft. Be a craftsman of your voice. Never be afraid to say what is on your mind, or do whatever you want — ever.
“Don’t go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Lastly, I wanted to finish off with that quote; it is one of my favorites, and it always reminds me that there’s nothing wrong with being different, of being yourself. We are all different after-all. There is only one common trait between us, people: we are all born leaders — a leader who leads its own life! It is really important to get this mindset going, if you feel you have been trapped in the above mentioned problem.
You may think this problem is straightforward, but then why do we do it all the time? Because we are not acknowledging it, we do not think about it. We have to be more aware of our thoughts. How to do it? — you may ask? In the end, this is something that you have to take some time and reflect on; be spontaneous, be confident and more importantly, be yourself!
Call-to-action: If you are interested about this topic, I highly urge you to go and read this really great book by Jonah Berger. Feel free to share your stories or to connect with me on Twitter @hifromantal.
Disclaimer: This blog post was originally published on Medium, here, on November 2, 2013.
Header photo by Polina Rytova on Unsplash.