Some people say (quite understandably perhaps!) that sheep are silly as they will all jump one after the other off a cliff. Why do sheep do that? There can be two main reasons – to avoid pain or to gain pleasure.
The first can simply be about fear. They just want to get away from whatever they fear at the time, eg a dog, and consequently will do anything to get away. If one of the sheep has found a way to stop the pain then they follow without too much questioning it.
It’s a little like the sales technique of “sign today” or the deal will not be on the table. The fear of loss or missing the deal can prompt us to make an instant decision with little time to reflect on what action is being taken. When the sheep see others jumping it makes it more compelling to follow, sometimes with the most amusing of consequences.
It takes great strength of character to dig our heels in and go against the flow, especially if all ‘the sheep’ behind are pushing us on.
Turning round and facing them is just as hard, with loads of hard heads coming towards us. Going with the flow is a lot easier. The more we try and stop the sheep the more determined they get.
The second reason why sheep might jump over the cliff-edge is to get to greener grass, as the old saying suggests. Being hungry and seeing the food on the other side will need the sheep to take action to get to it. It is more in the mindset of the sheep. Once the self belief that they can do the jump has been made, the sheep will jump regardless of the result. Once one sheep has done it the rest of the sheep will follow in its footsteps because they see what is possible. Look what happened once Roger Bannister had broken the 4-minute mile barrier: within a matter of weeks, several others had done the same.
Sometimes we find that we are on that treadmill of life, starting perhaps at an early age when we hear “you must study hard to get a good job” which encourages us to follow the traditional route of working for someone else. Later in life we might think “I am too busy in our job to consider anything else”, so we stay where we are – although in reality this belief may be because we are fearful of the alternative and more comfortable staying with the herd. To get us moving we look for that brave person to follow and show us the way, someone for us to ‘model’ and adjust our behaviour pattern. This is why a mentor or coach can be hugely beneficial in any area of life.
Whose example do you follow? Has it helped you get the right results?