The Pied Piper Effect

I hesitate to talk about this because I know it’s a sore subject for many people. However, instead of the vaccinations, politics, jobs, and other areas of our lives, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what I see happening around me. Many people are following a Pied Piper and don’t even recognize what’s happening. It doesn’t matter what area of life you may think of when you think of people following a leader, but the truth is we all follow a Pied Piper somewhere in our lives.

The story of the Pied Piper is from children’s folklore. I vaguely recalled the childhood story and remembered the Pied Piper wasn’t a good guy. If you remember the story, after leading all the mice out of town with his pipe (flute), the Pied Piper didn’t get paid, so he then led the children away with his line in revenge. In essence, the Pied Piper created chaos by leading children away from their families. Only one little boy remained behind, and that was because he was disabled. He was the only one who witnessed how powerful the Pied Piper was.

In business, we have to follow our leaders because they are the ones that call the shots. I think many leaders would benefit from listening to the employees and finding where they could improve. The danger in listening to our leaders all the time, is that at some point, we lose the ability to make decisions for ourselves. The same principle applies to our government. Following leaders off of emotions are dangerous. There are reasons that leaders are in place. Those leaders aren’t always right but they are put in those positions to lead. That doesn’t mean that they always lead well. I think that’s one reason why societies are encouraged to do their homework before lashing out in arguments. Facts are not always supposed to become disputed at times, yet they are a hot mark for people on each side of ideas. That’s not always a bad thing but it is reality.

Societies want many things for nothing and then balk when they are asked to pay the price for that service. When services are rendered, we are expected to pay. It’s of little wonder to me why the folklore of this story rings true today. There are many issues we are all following different Pied Pipers on various journeys. How do we recognize the behavior and not fall into the trap of doing what everyone else does, but rather live a life that we feel good about sharing? When I see so many people wanting free healthcare, free education, free resources, my question is this, what makes everyone think that these services will be free? We will be expected to pay in some sort of capacity. To assume otherwise is dangerous. Sure, we can be told that these services will be free, but there are lots of questions not being answered. There is always a cause and effect that occurs with decisions.

One thing we can all do is to stop reacting when we hear the news. Many stories are either over-dramatized or exaggerated to create chaos. There is just enough truth to the story to twist it without anyone becoming suspicious. Companies and politics tell you just enough without telling what is going on behind the scenes. By the time the news reaches regular individuals, the penalties are already in place. Getting emotional does nothing but feed the fire within the social media world. Yes, it can be helpful if those emotions become utilized healthily, but that situation rarely happens.

We can also research what we suspect. We don’t have to follow the leader just because we become instructed to do so. If someone said to you to jump off a bridge, would you do it because everyone else is? Or would you evaluate if that bridge was worth it, even if you didn’t know if the waters were shallow or how high the bridge was? Chances are you would want to know more information before you jump. There are some who would jump for the thrill, but most people like knowing what they are jumping into. My point is simple. We are all dealing with leaders who are telling us what to do. Some of their decisions make sense while others are so far off the mark that it’s difficult to know what to do. Some are the leaders we work for, while others are leaders that govern. Questions aren’t covered. If they are, those same answers stay questionable. If you aren’t comfortable with information, then research what you’re being told.

I’m purposely vague because I don’t know what issues you face daily. I know I face many leaders in my life and work line who think they know it all. Let me give you a prime example of how this applies in my life, and from there, you can have an idea of what I’m referring.

Years ago, I succumbed to peer pressure. There were people that I thought the sun rose and set in that I strove to emulate. They had a doctorate in partying; they could have written a dissertation on what not to experiment with and how to use people for what they wanted. They were my Pied Piper. I defended them with others because I saw the good in them. What I didn’t see is they were setting me up to drown. That was on me. I had a former supervisor who I thought was incredible. She could keep a team in check, was extremely organized and one of the most talented women I ever met. She was a charmer. She could make her staff do just about anything she wanted. None of us could foresee that she was cunning, manipulative, and a micro manager. When she set her sights on me to destroy, she did it with a vengeance. I never saw the tornado coming with her. She was brilliant with manipulation. And I didn’t recover easily from her. She hid files that were not able to be located, she blamed incidents on me that I had no knowledge of, and tried to say that I was in charge of gathering information that was her responsibility. Once she went after me professionally, it took a while for me to get my professional life back. She did a number on my self-confidence. I’ve never forgotten how I followed her blindly only to end up bewildered by the aftermath.

When people with low self-esteem become criticized, they are prime targets for those in leadership roles to take advantage of in ways many people can not begin to fathom. It’s not difficult to follow the music that the Pied Piper plays. We all have the potential to follow someone that we find appealing. The critical thing to remember is that we all have a brain. Whether we use our minds to figure out that information presented is not always accurate is up to us.

I’m not telling you not to listen to others. In fact, I’m saying to listen to others to help you make better decisions. You don’t have to act on what you hear. Before you get on a bandwagon and are so insistent that those leaders are right, I am saying that you are to do your homework. Play the music you want to hear on your terms. Don’t let other Pied Pipers lead you where you don’t want to go.

Find your center and know that it’s okay to do your thing. You can be respectful of other’s opinions without being a puppet that someone else controls. Know your worth and value. Something tells me that when you see the information presented as only a portion of knowledge, you will find the information you never knew you needed. Have a great day, everyone.

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