Most People Are Afraid to be Leaders or Stand Out From the Crowd

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Human being are hardwired to be followers. When we don’t do as others around us are doing, it creates stress and anxiety. This desire to follow the herd is a byproduct of human evolution.

During the early part of our human existence, we quickly discovered that when we were part of the herd, it was harder for predators to attack. The Herd Doctrine ensured the very survival of our species. We so desire to blend in, to acclimate to society, to be a part of the herd, that we will do almost anything to avoid standing out in a crowd. It’s not theory. It’s science (

Many years ago Candid Camera decided to test this science in their famous Elevator Prank ( As funny as that Candid Camera prank was, it highlighted the lengths people will go to be part of the herd.

In the U.S., we have a big herd – approximately 334 million. You can further break our U.S. herd down into various socio-economic income strata (source Census Data):

  • Poverty/Near Poverty/Lower Middle Class Herd – Approximately 140 million people
  • Middle Class Herd – Approximately 167 million people
  • Non-Millionaire High Income Herd – Approximately 16 million people
  • Millionaire Herd – Approximately 11 million people

Most people stay in the socio-economic herd they started out in for most of their lives. So do their children and their grandchildren and so on.

Why is that?

While this Herd Doctrine helped humans to survive, it is also the reason why so many wallow in mediocrity. When you are doing what everyone else in your herd is doing, you will only do as well as the other members in your herd. Your financial well-being will mirror the herd’s financial well-being. Your income, the house you live in, the car you drive, the clothes you wear and all of the stuff you own will be roughly the same as every other member of your particular herd.

The only way to improve your financial life is to escape your herd. You must defy your herd by separating yourself from it in order to achieve success in life.

And that’s not easy.

In my book, Change Your Habits Change Your Life, I share several stories of self-made millionaires who were able to break free of their poverty or middle-class herds and go on to achieve enormous financial success in life.

Well-meaning family, friends and colleagues try to dissuade anyone pursuing anything that other members of the herd are not doing. This includes big goals or life dreams. They will tell you: “the risk is too great”, “what if you fail?”, “you will jeopardize your career”, “you could go bankrupt”, “are you sure you’re not making a mistake?”. This onslaught of doom and gloom forces most to stop in their tracks and return back into the herd.

Depending on the study, 76% or more of the wealthy are self-made – meaning they started out either poor or in the middle class. There aren’t many of them, however.

Only 2-7% of the poor or middle-class are able to break free from their poverty or middle-class herds and become rich.

Separating yourself from your herd requires almost superhuman effort. This is why self-made millionaires are truly exceptional individuals. Their path towards success is a very lonely one. They must defy everyone they know inside their herd – their family, friends, neighbors, and other individuals – in order to break free from their herd prison. Not at all an easy thing to do.

So, if you are considering pursuing a big goal or life dream, you must, at some point, confront and overcome the well-intentioned members of your herd who will try to dissuade you. It won’t be easy. Your evolutionary conditioning and the evolutionary conditioning of those inside your herd will fight you every step of the way. But boy is it worth the fight.

When you defy the Herd Doctrine and escape your herd, enormous financial rewards, personal satisfaction, joy and happiness await you at the end of your journey.

Tom Corley is an accountant, financial planner and author of “Rich Kids: How to Raise Our Children to Be Happy and Successful in Life”, “Effort-Less Wealth”, “Change Your Habits Change Your Life”, “Rich Habits Poor Habits” and “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals.”