George Bernard Shaw once said, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” It should also be noted he once purportedly said, “If you’re going to tell people the truth you better make them laugh; otherwise they’ll kill you.” I like Mr. Shaw, I also suspect his mouth got him into trouble on more than a rare occasion. Perhaps he was a delinquent, perhaps he was not a rule follower, but I digress. One point for Shaw.
It is bewildering to me how a strong citation like Shaw’s generates applause, admiration, and a personal reminder of what could be…..until you work with them or attempt to manage, parent, or coach them. Then this unreasonable person becomes a problem child, a juvenile delinquent, or the first on the list in Acme company’s annual reduction in force solely because he or she is “difficult.”
We appreciate the “unreasonable” and the mavericks but they make us uneasy if we are not calling the shots. We applaud the “all in”, dissident versions of Scotland’s William Wallace, Steve Jobs, Martin Luther, Galileo, Richard Branson. In fact, the United States of America was built by these types of dissidents and nonconformists. We applaud and honor individuals like George Washington and Christopher Columbus but we tend to do everything in our power to bring them under control when they have more common names like Tom, Jane, Mary, Bob, and Mark. Small, narrow-minded, ordinary-obsessed leaders attempt to make Tom, Jane, and Bob like themselves, while great leaders pay their narrow-minded colleagues little mind and foster the maverick within Tom, Jane, and Bob.
I am very proud to reveal that I am friends with the youngest streaker in Oklahoma. She told me we were friends (and I’ll proudly accept that designation). This little friend of mine is my wife’s closest friend’s daughter. Imagine a pint-sized shrimp with a gargantuan personality, a colossal presence, curly blond hair, piercing blue eyes and a laugh that at times is contagious and others, baleful. Her middle name is “Kate” and her first name, well we shall just leave it with, it rings nicely with “Kate.” Miss Kate is a maverick, and I really like this about her. Not too many years ago, Miss Kate walked up to her Kindergarten teacher, paused, look at the knees of her teacher, then looked up, flexed her bicep, then kissed it and walked on. Soldiers have salutes, golfers have their fist pumps, and football players have their signature moves in the end zone… Miss Kate’s signature; the bicep kiss.
She is not a rule follower, a conformist, or an individual that will stale in her life’s journey. You may be perturbed, annoyed, or perplexed by this type of behavior, but you cannot help but appreciate her resolve and audacity. You might ask, “Who does this?” The maverick does.
My little friend, Kate, is going to make her mark in this world. Of course, this will depend on growing out of her penchant for “running free”, but I suspect she’ll figure it out through loss of interest or a successful attempt to change the laws. Count on it.
Here’s what I also know about “Kate the Runner”, she sings the anthem of the maverick. Although she does not yet know it, she is already harmonizing with a tribe she has not yet met.
Miss Kate allow me to introduce you to your tribe:
- Their anthem is typically sung to an audience of one or two.
- They will do things their way, in their time and the world will be better for it.
- Their thinking will be considered naive, irrational, crazy, or even dangerous.
- They are not fearless, they fear normal, complacency, nominal, lack of progress and are petrified in settling in for a long life of normal because “that is just the way it is.”
- They will say, “That’s the way it WAS” in response to “that’s just the way it is.”
- Until they “bloom”, the unfortunate reality for most mavericks is banishment from the “herd” made up of rule followers and norm makers.
- A large cross section of the population will follow these mavericks simply because they are fearless and will trade in their own ambitions and desires because they cannot imagine what it would be like to break a rule, frustrate a boss, or mock the naysayers who cannot imagine anything so out of the ordinary.
- Your counterparts in history changed the world
- Like Bodhi’s gang in “Point Break”, special operations members, street gangs, and Baptists who dance, mavericks run in packs, not solely for the social aspect, or common interests, but for the ongoing reminder they are not alone.
- They are change agents, thinkers, inventors, entrepreneurs and ostracized until they impress the critics with results that cannot be denied.
- The world is theirs.
- They will rewrite the history books.
I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said, “Well behaved women rarely make history” – Thinking I might buy one for Miss Kate’s bicycle.