There is a popular, long-standing misconception that lemmings commit mass suicide during migration. This misconception has fostered the use of the metaphor that people who go along unquestioningly with popular opinion, with potentially dangerous or fatal consequences are behaving like lemmings. To understand why this misconception is so prevalent you can read about it here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemming
But what about the guy who like the lemming in the cartoon says “NO” I’m not going to follow everyone else? Why is he saying no?
One of my favorite quotations commonly attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson but written in 1903 by Muriel Strode, (1875-1964) an American poet and essayist, is:
“I will not follow where the path may lead, but I will go where there is no path, and I will leave a trail.”
A good leader is always assessing and asking why. The motive for his questioning is not that he is a rebel but that leaders are always searching for improvement; in themselves, in others and in their organizations.
Going along with the crowd and not questioning why leaves open the possibility that there may be opportunities not discovered. This happens when everyone follows conventional thinking and blindly convinces themselves that there is no better way. An excellent leader always has his brain engaged and tuned in to the possibility that the next “best way” may be lurking out there somewhere.
So the next time the crowd starts down that familiar path, engage your leadership brain and think this:
- Why are we going this way?
- Is it the only way?
- Is it the best way?
Be a Rebel Lemming!