Author Topic: What Kind of Misfit Are You?  (Read 1309 times)

Offline Reginald Hudlin

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What Kind of Misfit Are You?
« on: August 06, 2011, 05:52:15 pm »
HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL:

What Kind of Misfit Are You?
9:43 AM Thursday August 4, 2011

EmailShare PrintHere's a confession that may surprise no one who regularly reads this blog: I'm a misfit. And I always have been. And having spent a few decades on this planet as a slightly octagonal peg facing an endless vista of square, machine-made holes, I've developed a hypothesis about achievement.

It's this: great accomplishment usually takes the impertinence not to fit into the suffocating status quo. Consider the following. Steve Jobs is a misfit an unashamedly unbuttoned creative in a role usually reserved for the most robotically droidly of beancounters. Larry and Sergey are misfits. Shigeru Miyamoto, Gordon Ramsay, Jay-Z, JK Rowling, Indra Nooyi, Arianna Huffington? All slightly off-center outsiders all challengers of the status quo, who've never quite fit neatly into its drab, bureaucratically predefined, dumbed-down boxes. Whomever you'd like to add to the list above, of this much I'm virtually certain: they'll probably be a misfit.

It's not that every misfit accomplishes something fundamentally unexpectedly awesome (for example, yours truly). And it certainly is the case that misfits have also been some of history's greatest villains. But it's also probable that most things unexpected, radical, and breathtakingly awesome take just a little bit of nonconformity; just a little bit of dissatisfaction with "the way things are." In fact, I'd submit that a deep-seated failure to conform might just be the whirring, glub-glubbing pump hidden inside the finely marbled base of the fount of great achievement.

So here's my question: what kind of misfit are you? There are many ways to relax, let go, and let your awkard inner misfit shyly surface. You can be a misfit by simply listening to and judiciously acting on your urge to question the (often maddeningly brain-dead) why, who, what, where, when, how of any and every organization, plan, initiative, or idea. In roughly that order: questioning the "why" tends to be significantly more powerful and warning: dangerous than questioning the "how." For example: "Why does Wall Street exist? Is it doing anything socially useful anymore or is it mostly just a members' club of rent-seekers in $5,000 suits?" (See how easy that was?)

I'd bet there's a misfit just itching to be released inside each and every one of us. A heretic whose edges are scraping uncomfortably up against the bars of whichever industrial age institution we're unlucky enough to be a part of (did I say "be a part of"? Sorry, I meant "have our souls imprisoned in Azkaban by").

Hence, I'd say: the biggest and most unforgivable crime industrial age institutions commit against our humanity is to deny us the freedom of our own singular humanity. They stifle us at every turn, fitting us into neat boxes, relentlessly and brutally pressuring us when they're not pulverizing us to conform, obey, fit in, toe the party line.

If you accept the heretical proposition that iron-clad conformity is probably history's surest recipe for suffocating and squandering raw human potential, instead of sending it zooming up to a higher peak, then, here's a corollary to my tiny hypothesis. If we had more freedom of individualism in organization, we'd have less politics, bureaucracy, jargon, time-wasting, wheel-spinning, and an almost embarrassing level of hubris that would have put Icarus to shame and veritable monsoons more humility, imagination, creativity, empathy, trust, respect, wisdom. Not merely of the scripted, laughably artificial, absurdly lobotomized pointy-haired consultant-bought variety as in "Hey, Bob, here's a great idea: let's add another blade to this disposable plastic widget of a razor. And then wait, I know!! Let's spend a few mil on a different athlete to make it look like testosterone on a spork!! How's that for creative!!?". But of the authentic, true, and meaningful kind: ideas and accomplishments that are disruptively world-changing, fundamentally unexpected, radically unimagined.

Now, this isn't easy, and it never has been. Take the ultimate mythical misfit, Prometheus, the Titan who stole fire from the gods and gave it to long-suffering mankind for the betterment of humanity. Call it history's ultimate act of rebellion against a suffocating, downright unjust status quo. His payback was to spend his eternity having his liver pecked apart by a giant eagle. That's pretty rough. But ask yourself this: is it really tougher than spending your eternity pushing paper around a 4x6 cube?

Call me crazy, ready the straitjacket, send in the orderlies, but my suggestion is: it's time to build institutions which don't just grudgingly, hesitatingly, make room for our individuality every eye-rollingly unfun casual Friday but which embrace, demand, hunger, and yearn for deviance from the yawn-inducing norm with an obsession that borders on the legally insane. We need those free thinkers. In fact, in a world where perma-crisis seems to be the status quo, by which our so called leaders seem paralyzed and hopelessly confused, we've never needed the misfits more

Offline Magic Wand

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Re: What Kind of Misfit Are You?
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2011, 04:38:27 pm »
I'm aspiring to become a critical thinker.
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." --Aristotle, Greek philosopher

Доверяй, но проверяй