Human beings can be described as contradictory species. Although most of us want to be unique and stand out from the rest, the truth of the matter is that we also want to fit in. This is because fitting in and being part of a social hierarchy gives us the feeling of safety and security.
A contrarian thinker is a person who takes a separate stand against what is seen as popular opinion. Although most people take contrary opinions to be different, contrarian thinkers stand against popular views because they believe they will get better results.
Contrarian thinkers take their time to read between the lines; they think differently; they look for opportunities where others cannot see them and act on the options. Although most are considered rebellious, contrarian thinkers don’t necessarily think differently to be revolutionary; they are always driven by the belief in their ideas’ validity.
This article will look at some innovative leaders who were contrarian thinkers, yet they brought positive and lasting changes into the world.
Martin Luther King Jr
In a day and time when racial discrimination was common in the United States of America, Martin Luther King Jr, who was a Baptist cleric and a social activist saw an opportunity to bring equality among all people regardless of color or race. Martin Luther King Jr led the civil movements between the mid-1950s to 1968 when he was assassinated.
Through peaceful demonstrations and protests, he brought about landmark legislation such as the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act. Through these acts, Martin Luther brought equality and human rights for the economically disadvantaged, victims of violence, and all African Americans, that are still in place to date.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, widely known as Mahatma Gandhi, was an Indian politician, lawyer, writer, and social activist. Born in 1869, mahatma Gandhi is considered India’s father up to date. He died in the year 1948.
His contrarian thoughts led him to become the Indian nationalist movement leader, which was against British rule. Mahatma Gandhi’s doctrine for satyagraha, which stood for nonviolent protests to achieve social and political progress, made him an international figure respected by many.
In a world where everyone is seeking their gain, pleasure, and contentment, mother Teresa saw a need to help the poor people that no one else seemed to care about. Agnes Gonxha, popularly known as Mother Teresa, was born in 1910. At an early age, she felt a strong urge that God was calling her for missionary work.
In 1950, mother Teresa started her order known as ‘the missionaries of charity’ after receiving permission from the Holy See. Mother Teresa brought a lot of hope, love, and peace to the world like no other. Today, she is fondly remembered for her numerous acts of charity. One of her famous quotes is when she said that although not all of us can do great things, we can still do the small things with lots of love.
Although the people mentioned above are all remembered for their contrarian thoughts, always keep in mind that everyone can access contrarian thinking, including yourself.
In the world of investments, contrarian investing is a strategy that involves bucking against existing market trends to generate profits, while being skeptical of general market sentiment. It can be considered an often risky strategy that may take a long period of time to pay off. The idea behind contrarian investments relates to markets being subject to a behavior where fear and greed are noticeable. This behavior causes markets to be over- and under-priced.
“I will tell you how to become rich. Close the doors. Be greedy when others are fearful, and fearful when others are greedy.” Warren Buffet, CEO Berkshire Hathaway
The Director of Trading & Investing Content at Investopedia, James Chen, summarizes contrarian investors in terms of how they target distressed stocks which they sell once the share price has recovered and other investors are targeting the company as well.