In Defense of Troublemakers: Book Review Part I
Whoever said “don’t judge a book by its cover” never bought a book. Wondering through my local Barnes and Noble initially I was going to pick up either a book on an introduction to financial investing or small business marketing. Whoever said after you graduate from college you never have to study a book you’re really not interested in either, also never went to college or graduated into adulthood.
As a person (this is a total side note) I understand that the only way to ensure you can compete in the growingly advanced and globalized world is to invest in your intellectual capital. I remember in 2017, Senator Bernie Sanders was doing a townhall on CNN, and a girl from a local vehicle manufacturing plant was worried that new trade agreements would outsource her job or she would lose her job to a machine. Her father worked for the same plant as an assemblyman for almost 20 plus years. She herself had worked at the same plant as her father for almost a decade. This woman, who had seen what was happening in the world and how her father had to work, instead of doing literally anything else to get away from that plant, was now begging the socialist Bernie Sanders to protect her job from cheap labor and robots.
Forget about Bernie’s response, that doesn’t matter at all in this situation. The problem is that person is incredibly stupid and probably deserves to have her job sent to a Mexican or a robot because if she was a driver about to drive into a wall, she is essentially screaming for someone to jump in her moving vehicle and yell at the wall to move. That is essentially what she is doing.
Anyway, I saw a book in the business section of the book store titled In Defense of Trouble Makers: the power of dissent in life and business and the title alone caught my eye. The cover shows a sea of blue fish moving in the same direction, but in the middle of the school of fish, you see a lone red fish facing the opposite way. That is a very impactful image alone. Quickly your mind goes off in many directions, a close example is when you’re at an event and the speaker is saying something inspiring and people start standing up unprovoked, but because people feel obligated to stand they do so out of a sense of obligation and conformity. From there, there is always that one person that refuses to stand up and people all zone in with their eyes on him.
The questions literally begin to flood ones mind, “he must not like the speaker” or “what on Earth is wrong with him? Doesn’t he see what we all uniformly did?” Its almost like elementary school, everyone just wants to go with the flock not because they want to, but because they fear the sense of dread and rejection that goes with sticking out, becoming a rogue and a outcast.
In my personal life and in business, what I can promise you is that there is nothing to gain by just going with the crowd. Yes, some people do the bare minimum and seem to go along to get along, a friend to everyone, but one day those people will hit a celling. As a “troublemaker” you have more to lose, but you have everything to gain and people remember those people.
I’ve been fired, demoted, ostracized, and honestly I’m thankful for all of that because those weren’t organizations I was meant to be apart of. Being a troublemaker takes courage and the willingness to challenge conventional thought. It doesn’t mean you should always act like you’re right, but more so that you are willing to be wrong so that if you are right, you reap all the gains of having embarked on a large enough challenge.
There was an obstacle course my squad had to embark on at basic training, where one soldier was made the leader for this exercise and they essentially had to make a human chain across this taped off line and get everyone across without breaking the chain. I won’t bore you with the details, but basically I had implied in my instructions there was a time limit to the obstacle in order to command my squad’s full attention. We passed the challenge in record time, but my evaluator said to me “there was no time limit, why did you make it appear like it was?” To which I replied “because I knew that and they didn’t have to know.” My evaluator looked at me as if I had pulled some power politics sort of game. That is a tiny example and nothing grand but what this showed me is the mindset I had to carry in that situation because I wasn’t a natural leader or a charismatic enough person to command attention unless I raised the stakes.
Steve Jobs, Donald Trump, US Grant, the list is wide and long but history only remembers and celebrates trouble makers because of their successes, and they only succeeded in their endeavors because they were willing to fail.
Delegate Nick Freitas of Virginia once said something that really stuck with me, “great journeys involve passing troubled waters.” Everyone wants the reward, but no one wants to work. The author mentions towards the end of the introduction an old Chinese saying, that “the nail that sticks up will get hammered down.” It is the fear of being the flattened nail that keeps people from sticking out.
A friend of mine spoke to an Explosive Ordinance specialist in the Army once, asking how he can handle the intense stress and pressure of his job. The soldier replied, “if I get the right wires when defusing a bomb, I’ll know and everything will be alright. If I don’t, I won’t know anyway and I won’t have any problems after that to worry about.” It is that sadistic, twisted sense of humor that helps you get through the motions of life.
Hopefully as I go chapter by chapter, I'll learn something new along the way. Stick around for chapter by chapter reviews and if you get a copy of the book, let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
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