Will Group Think Win?

As our country heads into the summer, we find ourselves with an abundance of data, opinions, and questions. But, there’s something more troubling we also find in abundance today—a deficit of common sense.

What exactly is common sense? Well, my grandmother referred to it as good old-fashioned horse-sense. Have you ever heard of that expression? I prefer to think of common sense as practical wisdom.

I’m talking about usable intelligence, that flows to us instinctively from ordinary life experience and a basic understanding of timeless principles and human nature.

It’s not fancy, sophisticated or expensive. And it is free to all who use it. You incur a cost only when you neglect to put it into practice.

But common sense hasn’t been so common, at least over the last few months. To a greater degree than most of us would be comfortable acknowledging, we have swapped common sense for groupthink or “crowd-think” as I heard it described recently. Unfortunately, we’re not currently facing a deficit of groupthink.

Groupthink is the tendency to conform to popular opinion. It most often reveals itself in rushed decisions, during crises, and when alternate perspectives and voices are not encouraged. 

Sometimes, group thinking is prevalent because consensus or a particular agenda is valued more than rational thinking or prudence.

More often than not, groupthink is the simple byproduct of intellectual laziness, impulsiveness, or a notion that everyone else knows the answers. And, sometimes it is just a reaction to fear and peer pressure.

Regardless, the collective power of groupthink tends to be counter-productive at best. In many instances, it can be tirelessly destructive—leading large groups of people to accept the herd mentality and go along with foolish ideas, even those that disregard truth or violate their cherished convictions.

Of course, at one time or another, we’ve all probably given into, or played along with, groupthink. The more immature we were, the more susceptible we were to be captivated by groupthink and popular opinion. 

Nevertheless, the more confident we are in the quality of our own thinking, the less likely we are to surrender our reasoning for the sake of a group.

If you are a responsible parent, you’ve likely attempted to empower your children to “think for themselves.” I don’t know about you, but if I heard that admonition once growing up, I heard it a thousand times.

And, looking back, my worst decisions seemed to coincide with violating this principle of “thinking for myself.” That’s probably not just a coincidence, right? Consider your worst decisions. Most likely they weren’t really your decisions—except for the fact that you agreed to follow a much louder group versus your quieter inner voice.

When you think for yourself, you are more likely to make smart choices that move your career, relationship, health, and overall life in a positive direction. I strongly suspect our Creator gave each of us separate brains so that we would use them as distinct individuals, not simply to parrot the communal thought processes of our neighbors. 

After all, each of us look and sound a bit different. We have distinct personalities. We have unique fingerprints and a one-of-a-kind DNA. Naturally then, we should think as individual beings, not as collective units. This means, we’ve been given the natural tools, voices, and in this country the freedom, to disagree—to have our own thoughts, perspectives, and opinions.

In my new ebook, The Challenge of a Nation, I highlight some very surprising information that will help crush fear and fuel optimism for the months ahead.

You can read it here.

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