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So what should you do? Go with the crowd or strike out on your own? Following the crowd is super safe and easy. You would be a fool to go your own way, right?

In the big subject of self-improvement making the most of what we have contrarianism is something we must consider.

Many will agree with the following:

‘Throughout history, the people who have made the difference – those whose names we know and remember – have marched to a different drummer and have seen the world from a decidedly different point of view’ self-mastery guru Dan Lee Dimke, Phd.


‘A contrarian is a person that takes up a contrary position, especially a position that is opposed to that of the majority.’

But that could apply to a mass murderer or a criminal mastermind, not to mention the belligerent child who is always being excluded from school.

I prefer:

 A contrarian person takes up a contrary position after full and careful consideration of the risks and rewards of doing so, and does not oppose automatically.

I see a true contrarian as more of a thinker than a rule-breaker.


Before going against the majority, there needs to a some serious thought, some assessment some ethical soul-searching.

The great contrarian investor Warren Buffett comes across as being morally suspect in his famous quote:

‘Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.’

His approach appears exploitative but some will say investment is no place for morality, with ‘ethical investing’ being nothing more than window dressing.

A lot of people seem suspicious of contrarians. That goes with the territory. For the majority, the minority are often guilty until proven innocent.

But there is an argument for saying contrarianism is simply about daring to be different at times and in circumstances where the majority are clueless.

For Dan Lee Dimke in Contrarian Perspectives:

‘Failure and mediocrity are the norm.’

‘Success, in sharp contrast, is exceptional and quite rare.’

‘…to achieve success, it is necessary to leave the security and comfort of conformity…’

For him, contrarianism is the key tool for personal and business self-advancement.

For others contrarianism is about naked opportunism, taking advantage of the irrationality of the crowd.

Contrarian investor George Soros famously made $1 billion on Black Wednesday in 1992 by short-selling the pound. He became known as the ‘the man who broke the Bank of England.’

Contrarianism can be positive as well as negative. It has been said that Einstein’s ‘contrarian personality’ paradoxically made him a genius and unemployable – for four years after graduating he was unable to find a professorship.

While others were trying to build on the knowledge of Isaac Newton, he sought to understand the universe from the perspective of light. From light he moved to his famous theory of relativity.

There have been countless other great contrarians.

Winston Churchill was famously unimpressed by Hitler when others were all too willing to bend over backwards for him.

Indian Prime Minister Mahatma Gandhi successful used non-violent protests to drive the British out of India at a time when the majority favoured more violent methods.

What is clear is that adopting a contrarian approach invariably brings in the money:

  • Shares bought cheap because no-one else wants them in a crash invariably regain their value, and more, with time
  • Property investors buying at the heart of a property recession when everyone else is selling stand to make the biggest gains going forward
  • Don’t bid at a packed auction if you are hoping for a steal
  • Going on holiday in the off-season means you pay significantly less than high season travellers
  • Buying your Christmas tree on Christmas Eve just before the vendor packs up for the day means you get it cheap
  • Buy your winter clothing in spring to bag the best price.

Certainly, with money and investment, a contrarian approach often brings financial rewards. ‘It pays to be different’, as the saying goes.

But going against the crowd just for the sake of it, seems pretty pointless.

A contrarian approach will give you an advantage in terms of personal and business self-advancement, but only, it seems, if you base your decision making on an ethical and careful assessment of the risks and rewards of ignoring the majority.

Going against the crowd to make gains is understandable, but going against the crowd to cause harm or havoc is not.

Overall, contrarianism can give you wings…a bit like that energy drink. Going your own way is not wrong.

Generally contrarians rule – but not always.

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Dalton Barrett
Rebel Property Coach

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