cows in field

Your environment has the ability to either help or hinder your progress, both personally and professionally. 

The people we spend time with can deeply impact our overall performance and success. 

 

If you’ve ever heard of the “herd mentality”, you will understand that all humans are wired for safety, security and belonging. This comes from deeply ingrained behaviours which were essential for survival in cave man times. 

 

And now, while for the most part our environments and social constructs are not life or death, we still operate at this fundamental level. 

 

So, what happens to us when we are part of a low functioning herd, or remain in a negative environment with negative people? 

Well, in order to feel the safety and security we crave, we will adjust our behaviour, our work ethic, and ourselves in order to fit in. 

Long term, this has serious implications on our overall performance, our happiness, and our productivity. 

 

The difference between a low and high functioning herd are outlined below-

 

A Low Functioning Herd: 

  • You feel the need to downgrade your accomplishments for fear of being judged or resented
  • The people in your herd spend more time complaining than they do taking action 
  • If you do something different from the norms or usual standards of the group you will be mocked or criticised
  • If you choose to grow and evolve, you will likely hear something along the lines of “The old you used to be fun” or “The old you would have done it”. 

 

A High Functioning Herd: 

  • The people in your herd celebrate your successes and achievements, no matter how big or small. 
  • You will feel valued and listened to, and your herd will give you both positive and constructive feedback, whether you want to hear it or not
  • If you begin to lag behind or become complacent, your herd will challenge you and push you to get back on track again
  • You will feel inspired, and inspire others in the group when you accomplish a task or learn a new skill 

 

Initially, we may not feel the effects of staying in a low functioning herd, but when we are ready to reach for more, or do the things that scare us, it will become apparent very quickly that you do not belong. 

In saying this, there is no need to suddenly unfriend everybody and move on with your life. However, it is important to create a positive, high functioning environment for you to work from. Surrounding yourself with people in a high functioning herd will give you the confidence to keep going when you feel like giving up, will be a sounding board for your ideas or struggles, and will help you remain on course; because they want to see you succeed as much as you do. 

 

So, where do we look for these high functioning herds? 

 

The best place to start is within your own community.

Are there positive work spaces, groups, or networks of people you could get involved with? 

Is there someone who you feel aligns with your values who you could take out for a coffee? 

 

It can be daunting to put yourself out there and meet someone new, but you must weigh up the costs of allowing yourself to remain in a low functioning herd. 

How might your work and productivity suffer? 

How will the constant self-doubt and worry of appearing “successful” affect where you are heading? 

What meetings or personal development events will you hold yourself back from because you are fear being the odd one out? 

 

The next time you hear the phrase “Why would you do that?” or feel the judgement of those around you, think about the implications on who and where you choose to spend your time. 

While it is likely safe and comfortable to continue to “fit in” and stay where you think you belong, remember that we don’t live in cave man times anymore; and growth and evolution is a fantastic part of the human experience. 

 

So go on, I dare you to find a herd which makes you feel both challenged and supported, heard and appreciated, and productive and courageous. 

 

Written By: Zoe Hyde

 

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