It’s not you…it’s them!

by gbsmith4

Many years ago, Nancy and I were in London and decided to see Les Miserables.  Of course, it had — and continues to receive —  rave reviews, so it was a “must see” on our to-do list.

About 30 minutes in, I was totally bored.  Thought it was a dreadful play no matter who was in it.  On the other hand, I thought maybe it was me.  Maybe I wasn’t cultured enough to appreciate it.  I mean if everyone else thought it was great, I guess I was missing something.  In particular, I said nothing because I thought Nancy (an Art History/Drama major in college) was surely appreciating it, and I didn’t want to ruin her evening.

Turns out, she was thinking exactly the same thing, and if I had said something earlier, we could have saved ourselves about 2+ hours of torture.

In fact, so often we find ourselves in similar situations.  Because “the crowd” seems to ooh and aah over a movie, a TV show, an event, or a person, we follow along because we guess we’re missing something.  In most cases we aren’t.

As an example, yesterday I read a post by a noted endurance coach.  Then saw the same post retweeted with glowing words.  My guess is because this coach has quite a following, everyone took his advice at face value.  Frankly, I thought it was the biggest, hokiest, worthless crock I’ve read in awhile.

But, following or not following exercise advice is one thing.  The real harm comes from dumbly following investment advice.  Because Mr. Big Shot says X, we all think X to be a done deal.  Quite often it’s the opposite, but we follow along because, well, everyone “knows” Mr. Big Shot has to be right.

Instead, I’ve found it best to follow my own path, acknowledging that Les Miserables is a piece of crap, Mr. Big Shot bats worse than 50/50, and Mr. Endurance’s advice came on a fortune cookie.

I’m not saying I’m right more often than anyone else, but I’d rather live or die on my own actions than by blindly following someone else.