Earlier this year, I volunteered at a big startup event here in Vienna. My job was to support the entry of 3000 people into the event by making sure that the line at the check-in moved forward.

I was placed at the beginning of the queue, exactly where everybody arrives. As I asked over and over the attendees to move forward I realised that there were 4 groups of people coming in.

They didn’t know it. They didn’t come together and most likely they have never seen each other before. They only thing they had in common was their interest for technology and startups.

Not even their background were similar because they had come from all over the world and now they had to pass by me to get inside the building.

As the attendees arrive, I greet them, I welcome them and I tell them to move forward until they find an emptier line, over and over for the next three hours.

It only took me 30 mins, to began identifying certain patterns between the crowd. After just one hour of observation and experimentation (by changing my commands), I had defined four distinct groups of people. They were as follows:

  • The go-getters: was made up by the people who didn’t wait for me to tell them to move forward. Maybe they knew the system, maybe they just ventured for it. In any case, they just passed the others in the queue and moved ahead without any disregard. They were confident. They seem to know what they were doing. They came in all sizes and colors. No way to spot them until they took action, but they all did look successful in a way. They were the 2nd largest group.
  • The “lost” ones: this were the people who approached me in search for more information about the system. Although they just used it as an excuse to skip the line; since, almost every single one of them asked if they had to do the line and then followed by, which booth was the emptiest. They were the smallest group of all.
  • The conformists: was made up by the attendees who queue in the line, to later moved forward as I asked them to do so. They came and waited to see how the system flowed and once they received the instructions they followed them.

And then there were these guys. This is the group that started it. The one that made me think about myself, about in which group would I put myself in.

  • The “patient” ones: they were comprised by the people who arrived at the queue, heard my commands and still decided to stand in line and wait for their turn at the first booth. This was considerably the one with the largest line out of all of them. Not only that, it was also the most uncomfortable to wait at because everybody else needed to pass by it in order to get to the other booths. But, for some reason they rather stayed. They pulled out their phones and waited. Ignoring my commands over and over until it was finally their turn. This was the 3rd largest group.

Why, I asked myself. Why would they simply decide on purpose to queue at the longest line? They know I have an overview over the whole system. So that’s when I wondered, in which situation should I be for me to decide to queue at the first booth?

Let’s look at the situation here for a second. This was a startup event, right? Then let’s assume that people know that risks have to be taken when starting their own business. Then why do they act the opposite way?

Maybe they don’t like to follow rules, maybe they were distracted, maybe they were upset or maybe last time the went to an event and move to another queue, it took them forever, so they decide to play it safe this time.

I like to think that these four groups represent different roles of life and they are all equally necessary. But, what I like about it is that it’s all up to us to choose in which group do we want to live in.

Quick question: In which group would you place yourself right now? Is it the one that you need to be? Will you be able to achieve the things that you want by been in that group?

I want you to think about yourself for a minute. Are you taking the opportunities that life presents you with? Are you simply waiting for them to show up or are you going for them and making them happen?

Seriously, look into yourself. Do you try to play it smart by looking for shortcuts? or are you just afraid to try again because you “failed” last time?

Your situation changes. Sometimes you are ahead, sometimes you are not. Sometimes you want to be ahead and you will just go for it. Sometimes you just don’t care. But it’s all up to you.

Let me share with you a story that has shaped my attitude since the moment I heard. While on a trip with my uncle, he told me a story of a guy who was in a bus and really wanted to smoke. He wanted to smoke so bad that he went to the bus driver and asked him if he could smoke in the bus.

The driver told him no! are you crazy? So, he asked with indignation, how come I can’t? How about that guy who is smoking over there? and the driver told him, well, he didn’t ask.

None of the people who passed the queue without my commands broke the rules. They didn’t need to! The system was designed to support them in doing what they did.

They just decided to go for it. I guess the question is not what would you have done at the festival, but what will you do next time you have the chance?

If there is somebody you know who may benefit from this post, make sure to share it with them.

I want to know what you think about this. Go ahead and scroll down to share in the comments section in which group do you normally find yourself and why?

Cheers!

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