Today I’m typing from the airport instead of the homestead.
I tend to be extra contemplative when I fly and this morning, as I made the two hour trek to the airport, wove through traffic, found a parking spot, stood in line, and stood in line some more, one thought kept dancing through my mind:
Figure out what everyone is doing and then do the opposite.
This idea served me well at the airport today:
- If you want to find a parking space more quickly, figure out which garages people choose first (usually the middle ones) then drive to the structures on the outer edges.
- If you want the cleanest bathroom stall, figure out which ones people prefer (the middle ones) and then select either the first or the last.
- If you want the fastest security line, skip the one closest to the check-in counters. If you walk just 5 minutes more, you can reach the line with less people and a faster line.
I love finding patterns like this. And in this instance, human herds remind me a little of a cattle herd.
We both prefer the path of least resistance.
We’re both more comfortable traveling in groups.
And if a herd of people (or cows) are flowing in one direction, everyone tends to follow, even if we don’t really know where we’re headed.
This desire to fit in, to not make waves, to not stand out too much, and to stay within the safety of the herd is seemingly hardwired in us.
BUT… have you ever noticed that the people we admire most throughout history were the exact opposite of that?
We celebrate the weirdos, the big thinkers, the brave explorers, the inventors, the challengers of the status quo, the rebels, the revolutionaries, the people who dare to park in the outer garages (ok, kidding on that one), but then *we* do everything in our power to stay with the herd.
Yet, the best adventures are never found within the pack.
Of course, this applies to much more than a silly airport.
- If you want to afford a homestead, look at what everyone wants (aka the just-add-water farmhouse complete with adorable coop and white picket fence) and get the opposite. Look for ugly, marginal land and a fixer-upper house with orange shag carpet.
- If you want to be healthy, look at what the standard American eats (seed oils, cheap industrial grains, loads of sugar) and do the exact opposite.
- If you want to be happy, look at what society is doing (sedating with screens, consuming endlessly, distracting with entertainment) and do the exact opposite.
It’s not exactly the “proven” path to success, but it’s pretty darn close.
Am I oversimplifying things? Probably a little. There are certainly exceptions to every rule. But I can attest that my contrarian streak has served me well over the years. So much so, that I now often seek out the opposite way in almost everything I do.
So here are the questions I’ll leave you with today:
- Where in your life have you been assuming you had to fall in line with the herd?
- What would happen if you took the road less traveled? Or ditched the proven path entirely and went off-roading instead?
Exciting things are out there, my friend. We just have to get out of the ruts, cast off the status quo, and be a little weird.
Living this contrarian life,
P.S. It takes a lot to make me leave the homestead, but a photo shoot for the cover of my new book is definitely a worthwhile reason. It’ll hit shelves this fall, and my publish date can’t come soon enough!