I’VE BEEN REBELLING AGAINST THE STATUS QUO FOR AS LONG AS I CAN RECALL
- As an infant, I didn’t cut my first tooth until I was 15 months old
- At age 4, I’d strip off my clothes for passing busses (yeah, I know)
- By age 9 I was staying in at recess to write instead of play outside
- At 17 I ‘streaked’ through my packed high school school auditorium wearing only a ski mask and running shoes (sense a pattern here?)
- At 18 I was asked the leave the UK by the Home Office because I was working without the required permit
- At 20 I was the youngest manager in a national chain of US retail stores
- I delayed going to college until I was 22 because it didn’t make any sense for me at 18
- I left the faith of my ancestors and family because it didn’t make sense for my life
- I have no beliefs because I see them as tools fabricated to obscure and exclude truth
- I resigned from a leadership position in a college when I was asked to violate my code of ethics
- When corporate workloads became counterproductive, I took a stand and negotiated pay raises for my entire team while successfully making my case
- I’ve self-published every book I’ve written and made more money from their sales as a result
I could go on but by now you get the point. I’m a life anarchist; a revolutionary through and through. It’s how I’m wired. Show me a case of social or civic injustice and I’m not shy about making my position known.
A little revolution now and again is a good thing. (paraphrased from President Thomas Jefferson)
CAREER ANARCHY 101
While anarchy is largely a political term referring to a system of self-government via voluntary associations, the more recent uses of the term connote a personal revolutionary definition. Anarchism now applies to individuals who reject the status quo and establish their own course of action through life’s challenges even if it departs from accepted rules.
Career anarchy is a mindset; it’s a dedication to getting results the right way, not only the way it’s always been done.
For example, a few years ago I led a team pursuing a contract to design and construct a remote airport on an island in the Aleutian Chain of Alaska. Our team abided by the rules set forth in the Request for Proposals.
However, the team that actually won the project completely disregarded the RFP’s requirements and proposed a different solution because it was the best way to deliver the desired result.
That’s what career anarchy looks like.
HOW YOU CAN INSERT SOME ANARCHY INTO YOUR CAREER AND BECOME MORE EXTRAORDINARY
If you’ve never considered yourself an anarchist in any sense, then this post might not land with you. But if you’re the type of person who prefers to hack your way through your work-life using atypical tools and achieving EXTRAORDINARY results, then keep reading.
Career Anarchist: One who creates a highly individualized system of ethics that guide how they approach their work. Career anarchists are often self-employment but can also be found working in corporations that supports their individual choices and impose little creative restrictions. Google, Apple, and Zappos are examples.
A career anarchist often achieves EXTRAORDINARY results. They do so by sometimes ignoring the accepted wisdom and operating rules and asserting solutions they’re convinced will better solve the problem.
Here are three ways you can invoke your inner career anarchist and become more EXTRAORDINARY in the process:
RESIST CONFORMING TO ARBITRARY RULES: Just because rules exist, that doesn’t make them universal or even appropriate. Rules are often agreed to by committee and represent a compromise at best. If you’re faced with adhering to these types of rules -and there’s a better way to obtain the desired results- forget the rules and go for the results.
People will notice what you did and yes, some will call you out on it (bastards), but that provides an opportunity for you to defend why you took that approach. Chances are you’ll convert them to your way of thinking in the process.
ASSERT YOUR INDIVIDUALISM: Even though teamwork is being taught in primary schools, high schools, and on the university level as Business 2.0 as the way the world works, it’s often overrated and not appropriate. Teamwork can be effective, but it’s always one individual who initiates the changes that the team accepts and follows.
Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Richard Branson – these are career anarchists to emulate.
Leadership can’t be effected by a team.There has to be one individual who leads. Leadership can rotate among individuals, but it’s rarely effective when shared.
PLANT YOUR FLAG: When you’re convinced that a course of action is necessary and it doesn’t conform to the rules set forth by your employer or your client, personal leadership is required to stake your claim to do what you know is best.
It isn’t often easy to defend your position, but it must be done. You might get overruled or you might effect some needed change. You’ll never know which unless you plant your flag proudly and stand your ground.
THE COST OF CAREER ANARCHY
Yes, it could all go south. But on the other hand, not many people people are fired or released from a contract simply for taking an aggressive stance and proposing a alternative course of action.
However, the most likely result is that you’ll garner more respect and admiration than if you’d remained silent.
Have you ever worked for a silent leader? Me either. That’s because there aren’t any. Leaders are anarchists and revolutionaries by nature. They lead because that it’s something they can’t-not-do.
Career anarchists are needed in corporations and solo-businesses; in coffee shops and health clubs; in legal practices and the healing arts.
There isn’t an industry or practice type that doesn’t need a little revolution every now and again.
photo credit: bart everson