Albert Einstein? Eda LeShan? Alan Ashley-Pitt? Francis Phillip Wernig? Oscar Wilde? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: The following quote has been credited to Albert Einstein and posted on Facebook and various websites:
The one who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. Those who walk alone are likely to find themselves in places no one has ever been before.
Here is an alternative version I have seen:
The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before.
Is this a sample of Einstein’s wisdom?
Quote Investigator: Probably not. It does not appear in the comprehensive collection of quotations “The Ultimate Quotable Einstein” from Princeton University Press. 1
The earliest evidence of the saying that QI has located appeared in the 1970s. The 1973 self-help book “The Wonderful Crisis of Middle Age” by Eda LeShan contained a discussion about creativity that included a version of the saying, and the author did not attribute the words to Albert Einstein. She stated that the quotation was from a poster she had seen, and in a footnote she identified Alan Ashley-Pitt as the creator: 2
The man who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The man who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been before.
Creativity in living is not without its attendant difficulties, for peculiarity breeds contempt. And the unfortunate thing about being ahead of your time is that when people finally realize you were right, they’ll say it was obvious all along. You have two choices in your life; you can dissolve into the mainstream, or you can be distinct. To be distinct, you must be different. To be different, you must strive to be what no one else but you can be . . . *
* By Alan Ashley-Pitt (Aardvarque Enterprises, 116 W. Arrellaga Street, Santa Barbara, California 93104).
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 2010, The Ultimate Quotable Einstein, Edited by Alice Calaprice, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. (Verified on paper) ↩
- 1973, The Wonderful Crisis of Middle Age by Eda LeShan, Quote Page 304, [Copyright 1973; First Printing November 1974], Warner Books, New York. (Verified with scans) ↩