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«Return to Blog List Let’s Sit This One Out vs. That Looks Like Fun

I read Seth Godin’s blog almost daily, and check out just about anything else the man has to say in print or on video. I don’t always agree with him, but he always makes me think. The other day, he shared a video on his blog that showed people dancing at a concert, and how it grew from one crazy (and probably intoxicated) guy to a mob of people (also probably intoxicated). Watching it can tell you a lot of what you need to know about group behavior as it relates to creating a tribe or building a market. Seth talks about the importance of the third guy joining in, and you should go read his post.

However, I’d like to focus on the people in the foreground. The ones trying to maintain their dignity as (near the end of the video) people all but run over them to be part of the mob. Why didn’t they get up and be part of it? They didn’t even have to walk far (a few of the folks sitting in the foreground did get up and dance, but not many). Why did they adopt and maintain "anti-mob" behavior?

Here’s my theory. Sitting close by, they witnessed a crazy guy making a fool of himself from the very beginning of his let-it-all-hang-out performance, before other crazy guys (and gals) had joined him. You can almost hear the conversation.
"Look at that guy making an ass of himself, Bobby Joe."
"What a jerk, Bobby Jim. Don’t you get any ideas about dancing around like that."
"If I was dancing, I wouldn’t be lurching around like a drunken idiot."
"If you were dancing, you’d look just like that, only worse."
And so on…

What I’m guessing* is that these people created their own barrier to participation by taking a mental position they could not easily abandon. Having agreed on the foolishness of such behavior and reinforced in each other their superiority for not participating, they were no longer free to say "Hey! That looks like fun!" when other people rushed over to join in the "foolishness."

Most of us have done this at one time or another. In fact, I’m willing to bet that right now almost all of us are prevented from doing something we would enjoy or that would benefit us in some way, for no other reason than that we’ve adopted a mental position/barrier. The trick is to identify our assumptions (what if we start with what we’re resisting?) and examine whether or not they still serve us well.

*It’s also possible they’d made a realistic assessment of their dancing abilities and had wisely decided it was better to enjoy watching other people have fun, in which case, they hadn’t had enough beer.

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