“Be the change you want to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi
Some years ago my mother, sisters and I traveled to London together. It was my first transcontinental flight, and I was excited and a bit nervous. As I sat next to my older sister, I saw her remove her shoes and put on some little sock slippers. I took off my shoes and put on slippers, too. Soon after, she reclined her seat; I did the same. When asked if she wanted a beverage, she ordered green tea. I also ordered green tea, but soon regretted my decision. You see, I truly hated green tea!
Why on earth did I, a grown and very independent woman, imitate my sister even to the point of ordering (and yes, choking down) a beverage that tasted like grass? I had to laugh at myself, even as I sipped the nasty stuff. Once a kid sister, always a kid sister, I guess.
If you recall your psychology courses (social learning theory), you know that it was more than just family dynamics; it was behavioral modeling. The hard-wired tendency to unconsciously copy one another is arguably the foundation for all human bonding, grouping and the evolution of cultures.
The things we do and the choices we make every day are influenced by many unconscious perceptions. Going with the flow is great for keeping harmony and ease. However, it becomes a problem when we sacrifice things we value such as integrity, originality, improved performance — or a good beverage, for example. Unless we deliberately elect to stay attentive and course-correct as needed, we probably end up navigating our days on imitative auto-pilot.
I sense that behavioral modeling is one of the reasons that […]