“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” ~ Rob Siltanen
Doing as I was told came naturally to me, and my brain was wired for excelling in school. I could champion most any task a teacher gave me, and I did each with a sharpened pencil on a clean sheet of paper.
As I grew older, the hoop jumping became increasingly challenging.
Get these grades, do these extracurricular activities, perform this way on standardized tests, and you will get the Willy Wonky Golden Ticket to a great college. UNC-Chapel Hill sent me one of those Golden Tickets.
Work as an unpaid intern garnering critical experience, take a variety of seminars and workshops on marketing and copy editing, and learn how to pitch editors successfully, and you will earn a paying job in the very competitive field of book publishing at a prestigious New England publisher. Check.
But what happens when rule following, hoop jumping, and coloring inside the lines no longer serves you? What if, in fact, it erodes your joy, ability to problem solve, desire to speak up, and your courage to express yourself creatively?
In my mid-twenties, I came to realize that the system that had once served me so well had become a cage of my own making. I could clearly see how my ability to be adept at fitting in and winning in corporate structures was slowly causing my soul and spark to wither and dim.
The writing was on the wall. I needed to break my comfy patterns of behaving and thinking if I were going to spring myself from the jail I had unknowingly created. That is, I had to break my life and start over. With a return flight to America, that is precisely what I did.
In the twenty-five years since then, I have reinvented myself a number of times. Each new reinvention causes chunks of concrete layers (that I used to hide behind) to hit the ground and explode into dust. Standing in my vulnerability and visibility, I have new access to my creativity and daring to lead.
More rebellion, less orderliness. Less focus on what other’s think, more focus on being a change maker. More leadership of self and others, and no running on someone else’s treadmill.
Fitting in can be the ultimate trap and betrayal of whom you truly are. Your singular voice and creative mind are precious resources and are desperately needed in these times of global challenge.
Be a rebel for your own life. Be one who changes the world.