Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Go Against The Flow

As most of you know I've had the opportunity to review some amazing books this year and I have to share a story that came out of one of them and how it took me back to a particular time in my past that had a great outcome. Hang in there, it's well worth it.

One of the best jobs I've ever held was a Senior Training Specialist, (a.k.a. as a Supervisor/Trainer) for AT&T Wireless back in the day and loved seeing people's responses whenever we had a test coming up to measure how much new employees for Customer Service were retaining. Testing is necessary so we can see if we, as trainers, are moving too fast or too slow in what we were teaching them and we had the creativity to design our own tests.

A colleague of mine, Tim and I, decided since the Technical Troubleshooting with our representatives was the most difficult portion of the training they had to master, we would try a simple but well thought out test for a multiple choice test. No matter what the questions were the answer would always be the letter C. For all 30 questions. Not only did this make the grading easier for us, we wanted to see if anyone would catch on to what we were doing. I have to tell you in all the groups of representatives we tested, no one, not one, scored a perfect 100%. Even though after grading them and handing them back, we explained the answer key. We told the representatives that every single answer on the test was the letter C.

Do you know that almost every single person admitted to catching on to it, but doubt their own answers simply because it went against everything they considered? I mean how could every single answer be C, so they opted to chose other answers instead. How simple it would have been to trust their instincts and simply answer the questions based on their knowledge and let the results speak for themselves? Why does that happen? Why do people not trust their answer to be right despite what the trend shows?

I never really thought about it all until I read the book, Situations Matter by Sam Sommers. In it, Sam explains from a psychology perspective why people react the way they do, and why in crowded situations do they respond differently then when alone? He documented many instances of people acting against their nature and doing something completely different and in some of those cases the outcome was tragic.

Consider one such example, now labeled the Liverpool 38, in which two boys in Merseyside, England both ten years old, kidnapped a two year old, James Patrick Bulger from a busy shopping mall and later murdered him. Even though the two boys were caught and tried, the evidence later showed, 38 other people that had contact with the three boys that day and no one intervened at all. Some said, they thought the two older boys were simply brothers taking a younger one home, others thought something odd was happening but since no one else was taking action, neither did they.

When a study was conducted later using the details of this case in a psychology class, students responded that the majority of them would have taken some kind of action and never let this progress as far as it did. So why did every single one of the 38, in a crowded mall and street fail to react. Would those same students if placed in the situation that day really act like they said they would?

I see this same thing occurring when as Christians almost day, we make decisions that go against what we believe for the sake of not rocking the boat or causing waves or simply because we don't think one person can make a difference. However consider your response to the Liverpool 38, what would you have done, honestly? Would you have stepped up or would you leave it up to someone else to say something, to do something, to intervene? In the case of the Liverpool 38, one person could have save the life of another.

In the case of our testing methods, one person could have achieved success by simply going against what he thought was happening and trusted what was right on the inside. Too often I pass many Facebook posts and offers of help and no one does anything leaving the responsibility up to someone else to step up. If someone else took the initiative first, its funny to see how many others would jump on board. I challenge you today, to go against human nature, and go against the flow.

Do the right thing, say something, inquire as a concerned person, consider others feelings for a change and simply refuse to do nothing! Your actions could very well change everything for the better, just look at what Jesus' actions did for the world. It's still something we all talk about and model our behaviors after, because it's right!

Romans 12:2 ~ "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."


Divine Mrs D said...

Wonderful post! I love the verse at the end. And I know that feeling...

It's not the same as the life of a child...but there was a woman dancing at a street fair and she was trying so hard to get people to dance with her. No one stood up and I just thought, "Well...why not?" And I danced with her, by myself for the rest of the song.

When the song ended, she thanked me and when the next song started, more than 6 women stood up to dance. It's about stepping out!

So now I'm going to give it a better try :)

Terra said...

Yes, I agree that going against the flow can be rewarding, and sometimes even fun, and sometimes stepping up alone means someone is helped. This is a good post.

Sassy Granny ... said...

What a meaty post! It is especially timely given the conditions on the ground in our world. To go against the flow socially, politically - and even (if not most) religiously - is sure to ruffle some feathers. But then that's what we're called to ... we stand out as lights against the darkness.

LV said...

Another master piece.

David C Brown said...

This is all quite testing. One other thought is that we need to keep it in mind in the company we keep.

One sober consideration is - if I was in the middle of a crowd shouting "Crucify Him!", would I have the strength to go against the crowd?