“Don’t talk back!”

Remember when you used to hear that as a child…all…the…time. Well I did. That and “because I said so, I am the parent, you are the child, you need to do what I say!”

For our entire formally educated lives, we are rewarded for falling in line, following the rules….not being insubordinate. If you couldn’t already tell, I am a BIG fan of insubordination. Not the kind of obstinate, purposeless, stubbornly defiant insubordination that creates conflict. The productive kind. The kind that fires you up and motivates you to change something that is unnecessarily broken. If something can be improved…why shouldn’t it? Because someone says something is just the way it is…well why?

I am reading a terrific book entitled Tribal Leadership, by Dave Logan and pals, which essentially breaks down how tribes, or groups of like minded people, determine the fabric of a company’s culture. Logan goes into great detail on how these tribes are created and how we as members of tribes in various stages, can inspire others to become leaders and help fundamentally improve or progress the culture of an organization.

One of the most interesting paragraphs in the book takes a look at how, throughout our lives, we are taught to stay in a box. School bus is here, get on. Bell rings, class starts. Bell rings, class is out. Your 10page essay on the cultural impact of “the Joy Luck Club” is due Thursday. 1000 words or less. Arial font only, and staple in the upper right hand corner please. WHY? Because I said so.

For many people, this doesn’t change when you enter the workforce. “that’s the way it’s always been done, it’s just the process ” – have you heard that one before?

Well Mr. Lumbergh, frankly, your process sucks as much as your giant honeycomb tie. OK, you’re right, let’s try that with a little less emotion. Yesterday’s interview with Brian Wong, CEO of Kiip, offered a much more accurate and appropriate definition of this apparently destructive “insubordination” we have been taught not only to avoid, but to prevent others from embracing:

“I have very little regard for regulations that make no sense. The fundamental trait of an entrepreneur is questioning the status quo”

(credit Bay Area News Group)

Wong is one of the youngest people to ever win venture backing when he was just 19 years old. Imagine how many times this guy must have been told he was nuts…at 19 he was asking for millions of other peoples’ dollars. This is a guy who graduated college at 18. His whole existence is the epitome of going against the grain.

Much to the chagrin of my own parents, I have often said that if we are blessed enough to have children one day, the best day of my life will be the first day I lay down the boundaries and my child looks up at me and asks me simply “why?”  I know you experienced parents out there are literally choking on your blueberry scones laughing so hard. Is it so crazy?

The chase for improvement is what fuels me. Every day I look around, as a consumer, as a son, as a husband, as a friend….how can we improve?

The answer exists somewhere out there, and if you don’t talk back….well how is the world going to embrace your great idea?

Categories: Leadership, Life, Technology | 1 Comment

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One thought on ““Don’t talk back!”

  1. Keep talkin back bro!

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