Human beings are relational creatures; we thrive on interaction and attention, and because of our relationship-focused tendencies, we are easily influenced by those with whom we interact. Regardless of how good or bad the influence of our friends, family and colleagues may be, the fact remains that the influence exists, and it effects us on a daily basis, whether we realize it or not.
Peer pressure is an invisible force that’s almost ever-present. Like a light breeze filling your sails, it doesn’t take much for it to start pushing you along. Resisting the force of peer pressure can feel almost impossible, just like the wind on a stormy sea, you can’t escape it. But even in the face of the storm, you can still steer your own boat. Sometimes all it takes is the courage to stay at the rudder and continue to call the shots.
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Almost always, the creative, dedicated minority has made the world better.” I believe this is very true. Those few people who take a stand, decide to be different, and choose not to “go with the flow” – those are the people who really make a difference; those are the people who make the world better. As difficult as it can be to stand out from the crowd, to steer in a direction contrary to the norm, it is that choice, that action that distinguishes the creative, dedicated minority from the masses.
The civil rights movement is a very obvious and powerful example of this truth, as are a number of other social and political movements. But the dedicated minority doesn’t start as a large group of people, and the actions of the dedicated minority aren’t always so visibly world-changing. The creative, dedicated minority starts as one person. One person who thinks differently. One person who chooses to stand out and to resist the pull of the crowd. That resistance may add up to be something huge, like the battle against social injustice, or it may add up to be something less visible but just as remarkable, like greater commitment or integrity in your workplace.
You can be the creative, dedicated minority. It starts with an idea, it becomes a choice, and it grows into an action that in some way – small or big – makes the world better. That, is truly Leadership Excellence.