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Are You Causing a Swarm?

by Amy McGrath March 28, 2014

Certified FOM Coach 

My daughter came home from school the other day with some facts about locusts. One of those facts caught my attention. Locusts are actually grasshoppers that become dangerous when they swarm. I looked it up and discovered that the main difference between locusts and grasshoppers is that locusts have the ability to live in either a solitary or “gregarious” state. When locusts are in this gregarious state – all riled up and full of serotonin – they find other locusts more attractive and form swarms. In these swarms they continue to breed and search for food. This is when they’re most dangerous from a human standpoint – when they are devouring vegetation.

What I found fascinating at that moment was how a mild-mannered grasshopper could easily become a terror-inducing insect associated with a plague. Sometimes it doesn’t take much for us humans to make that same conversion. All it really takes is one person who’s fired up and another person who is drawn to them. Things grow from there.

Have you ever spent time with someone who feels strongly one way or another about a certain issue? Their mood can be contagious. Recently, I was telling a friend about some behavior issues my daughter has been having at school and how her teacher has handled them. Upon hearing my story, my friend became very passionate and told me that I needed to speak to the school principal. If she were a locust, you would have seen my friend’s hind legs really start to move, much like a locust’s before it becomes gregarious. Had I been attracted to her zeal, I would have gotten all riled up too and our swarm would have begun.

Like a swarm of locusts, passionate people can eventually change the landscape. That can be a very good thing when it creates necessary change. Yet it can be a very bad thing when it spreads unnecessary strife, fear, or discontent. You can see swarming happen in classrooms, in the workplace, with families and congregations. If you pay close attention, you’ll notice little groups of people forming who feel that the teacher is boring at school, think management at work is unfair, believe that all kids are spoiled, and are convinced that the congregational leadership is lacking. Conversely, you will find people being swept up in movements that enhance school spirit, recognize star employees, rally for later bedtimes, and create a stronger community.

Which groups do you find yourself in? And, if you think deeply about it, what kind of thinking has led you to be in these particular groups? Are you aware of the impact that your thinking has on those around you? Our thoughts and beliefs ultimately have a major impact on ourselves and on our surroundings. Even if we don’t purposefully and forcefully do it, each of us naturally transfers our views to those around us.

All it takes is one other person to be on board for a group to start. If you are dissatisfied with work, you’ll attract other dissatisfied coworkers. If a relationship with a family member is off, you’ll recruit other people to take your side. If you struggle with money, you’ll find other people with money issues to hang out with.

In these groups, we search for food to feed the swarm – evidence to support our beliefs. That’s when things can get dangerous. That’s usually the point when we notice that life isn’t how we want it to be – and the potential to go from being a harmless grasshopper to a swarming locust increases dramatically.

Do you find yourself in harmful, dangerous swarms that ruin the landscape? Are you making your environment the place you want it to be? To answer this question, all you have to do is take stock of your Frame of Mind.

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