When you were a kid and wanted to do something your parents or teachers didn’t like, you may have heard the question, “If everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you?”
The idea is that it’s not good to do something stupid, even if everyone else does it. The logic is think for yourself instead of following the crowd.
It’s not bad advice, even if it’s sometimes used to exert control more than to support independent thinking.
Then, you grow up and suddenly the tables are turned. People start expecting you to behave exactly as they do. If you don’t conform to their expectations, some of them get confused or even irritated.
It’s almost as if they are asking: “Hey, everyone else is jumping off the bridge. Why aren’t you?”
The irony of this is lost on everyone who is busy lining up to take the leap. The logic shifts from independent thinking to groupthink. If everyone else is doing it, it must be right.
I began this site five years ago to help bring the childhood message up to adulthood application. Ignore those people jumping off the bridge. Make your own decisions. Live your own life.
Asking why? to everything like a three-year-old is helpful in making sure you don’t jump off the bridge. Whenever confronted by a request or obligation, ask the question:
“Why should I do that?”
When the answer comes back, “Just because,” or “Because that’s what everyone does,” you know you’re looking over the bridge again. In any given day, you’ll confront this issue at least once. This fact is somewhat unavoidable. Whether you jump or not, however, is up to you.
The counsel you received at a young age was correct, even if the people giving it to you weren’t that great at following it themselves.
Why jump off the bridge just because other people do?
I told this story in 63 cities on my first book tour long ago. The message still holds: think for yourself! Live for your own choices.
You can do good things for yourself and for others too—it’s not a false choice.