We had just finished our exams and with just one week left to our holiday, we had no studies and nothing to do in school. I cannot remember the class exactly, but it was Senior Secondary (High School). My friends and I decided that rather than go to school, we would hang out. One of us lived close to school, so his house was the chosen location. On that fateful day, we were dropped off at the School’s gate, we pretended to go in, removed our school shirts and went off to our friend’s place. We had a great time and then it was time to go back to school. The plan was to get close to school, put on our uniforms and wait at the gate for pick up. All was good, our plan was well executed and on our way back to school, we even discussed how we could pull this off again everyday till the end of the week.
Just then, one of our teachers drove by and recognized us. Screeeeech…… we heard his car tires stop as he pulled back. Anytime I think of that event, I still don’t know how five boys fit into his really small car. We even damaged the door of his car in the process. He drove us back to school, it was a Military school so you can imagine what happened next. I will give you a sneak peak, we were flogged without mercy. A combination of our offense plus the damaged car fueled the extra strength behind each stroke. We paid dearly for the insurance he wasn’t going to claim from us on the car.
I recall getting into trouble for other things I got involved with, in and out of school. At some point, I began to notice that other people would do things and seemingly go free, but the moment I tried it, I would get into trouble for it. And by the way, these were not all necessarily “bad things”; it could be a certain trend or “opportunity”, the moment I got in, I would get burnt. It was more like God was telling me that the “crowd” was not ‘my thing’.
I remember that while I was in University, I went into school to buy a vital textbook from a lecturer for a coming test. As I got close to his office, I saw about seventy percent of my classmates trooping out of the building, advising that I turn back, apparently the Professor was not responding to anyone. I wanted to turn around, when my friend said to me, “let us go in and get turned back ourselves” so despite popular opinion and other voices, we went ahead and you can imagine our surprise when we were greeted by a very receptive Professor. In fact, that was the nicest we have ever seen him and he gave us all we needed. Hmm…. My guess is, one person probably went in to meet him, and with a completely different experience or circumstance, got turned away by the Professor and on their way out, turned everyone back with their version of the story. It may have been in good faith or it may have been an “if I cannot get it, no one else should” but we would never know right? As with such cases, we are never able to trace the culprit. If you try to ask, person A would say person B told me, person B would say person C and it would become the never ending story! But seriously, I wonder how many people got turned back that day! It is possible, over ninety percent of the class.
Have you found yourself taking a decision because of one person’s or a few people’s experiences? Have you turned back when you should have moved forward? Or moved when you should have stayed? The Late Stan Lee, writer of the super hero stories we have come to love shared that he was told to trash the Spiderman super hero story when he first wrote it. In Stan’s word, “If you have an idea you genuinely believe in, don’t let some idiot talk you out of it”. I will add, don’t let the crowd talk you out of it, no matter how many or how loud they are. Today, Spiderman is on the screens with a world wide audience and raking in billions for its producers. If Stan was moved by the crowd, Spiderman would have been shooting webs in the trash can, unknown to the world.
From my experience, I have seen that when people don’t want to take a risky step forward, they try to pull as many people back with them. They create what I call the “crowd mentality”, get a few people in, make their voices loud and try to suck you in. Don’t be their victim! Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked (Proverbs 4:26, 27a NLT)
To achieve great things, some of us will need a “League of One” moment.
From Abraham to Joseph, Moses to David, Jesus to Paul, these great men had their League of One moments. Each of them had their “AHA” in a solo moment. In fact, for some of them, God literally took them out of the crowd as far as a wilderness for that moment of clarity and self discovery.
I have seen a lot of trends come and go and the crowd followed, and in most cases, many of them lose out. Some have suffered huge financial losses, faced arrest for mistaken identities, lost their jobs and even died in the process of toeing the path of the crowd. Standing away from the crowd may be an unpopular choice, you may even lose some friends but in those moments, you gain insight and the courage to launch.
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