Are you in the herd or are you an individual?

That question may not be so easy to answer after your read this post. For millennia, humans have been inculcated to being in a herd, for safety and security, and therefore being herded. We may think that we are individuals but in fact most of us are in a herd mentality, and don’t realize it, and adopted it as being safe and secure. We listen and do exactly what others are doing and think we are individuals, even as security professionals we copy off of best practices and other innovative ideas not our own.

The most extreme example of this is our current political climate, not that I like bringing politics into my posts but…: Those on the right are dead set to believe that there is a conspiracy against President Trump by the democrats, former President Obama, and the Clintons and old style establishment politicians in the Republican Party.

Consequently, those on the left condemn anything the Republicans say or do despite the facts as they come out because it doesn’t fit their agenda. From the surveillance of candidate Trump, Russian hacking into DNC servers and the people nominated to be on the cabinet. You’re asking how does this tie in? Because if you are on either side of the aisle, then you will believe 99% of whatever is spewed out.

Even if you are presented with irrefutable facts to the contrary you will believe the narrative spewed by whatever news source, politician, or friend you listen to. And I’m sorry to say that it comes from all sides, it doesn’t matter your party affiliation, Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green, Communist, Socialist, or whatever.

This definitively proves to me what I’ve known for decades. Being an individual is the best course of action. Not following conventional wisdom, thinking out-of-the- box and sparking weird unique ideas is the best path to follow. Need more proof?

In the 50s noted psychologist Solomon Ash designed a study to measure how many people would follow the herd mentality despite the answers being wrong in the test. In theory, with everyone believing they are individuals, it should have been low. The results showed that 32% of the time they all went along with Ash’s colleagues, who were planted into the study and gave wrong answers, which the others followed.

Now just imagine how those numbers could, and do, go to astronomical levels when the answers are not a matter of right or wrong but dependent on individual thought processes. Or a choice between doing nothing and making a decision to save lives or irreplaceable assets?

A further example of this: in the 70s Henry Tajfel put together a study, supposedly on decision making, utilizing teenage boys that didn’t share… anything. He divided them into two groups and they were to decide on how to divide a monetary award.

There was nothing to be gained or lost by disproportionately dishing out the money. Yet, even after knowing each other only a few minutes…you guessed it, they distributed the money totally disproportionately to each group. This again proves that individualism is not a normal part of the human psyche, and worse, we can easily be tricked into deferring to the herd, without even realizing it.


I have written innumerable posts on not following conventional wisdom, breaking the rules, and doing things that go outside the norm for most people and businesses. I have been fond of saying “if it isn’t illegal, immoral, or unethical, then go ahead and do it for the benefit of the employee and company.”

In the past couple of weeks, I have been receiving sales pitches from consultants and other wanting me to take their webinars and telenars. Some of them sound boring, and were, but there were a few that stood out. The difference? The fact that they said break the rules!

In all businesses you can find people who broke the rules and made it a success. Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs, Donald Trump (both in business and politics), and innumerable others. So I continue with the idea that you need to break the rules or bend them so far out of shape that they are practically unrecognizable to the company.

If you stick with the herd mentality and never deviate then you may lose an opportunity to place your company far and above the rest. It doesn’t matter whether it is developing or purchasing software for security management, hiring someone your gut tells you is right but not necessarily qualified for the job, zigging instead of zagging when an issue arises.

My validation is coming around…albeit 34 years later than I would have wanted but… I didn’t write this post to complain about my lot and not being accepted. Rather I wrote it to say that everything I’ve been saying for decades is coming true.

From the way I handled workplace violence issues and viewed them, to managing security officers, customer service, and other things. It may be fleeting but I will guarantee you that as we move closer to being in a martial state of law, I will be, still ahead of my time with unconventional thinking.

Check out my past blogs on those topics, too many links to post here, at either of these two sites: or Twitter: @robertsollars2

                                                  I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear

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