5 Reasons Why You Should Hire (or be) a Rebel at Work

A rebel on your payroll can help you beat your competition, or if you are the rebel, drastically improve your career.

By rebel, I don’t mean the punk in spiked leather breaking beer bottles on the cop car, while battling his arch nemesis: the inner conflict of the man-child crying for his mother’s love.

No, by rebel I mean the man or woman who is allowed to challenge the status quo, lend a different perspective, innovate, and be fearless from receiving the usual repercussions of questioning their boss.

Here are five reasons why having a rebel on staff, or being the rebel yourself, can be beneficial.

1: I Challenge You, Good Sir, to a Duel!

The signature trait of a great rebel is someone who challenges the rule because the rule holds back progress.

Challenging the rule — questioning its validity and if its still applicable — ensures that either it is effective or destructive.

A challenge to a rule is to test its validity and applicability to how things are now, or in the future.

For example: It may have been a rule that refunds could only be given to customers if they could find a defect in the product. More often today, though, it’s almost a requirement that refunds can be given with little or no questions, and all money back.

Challenging rules can also reveal if they are effective or not. By being able to voice an opposing view about a rule, the rebel can bring to light rules that may be harming employee performance or customer satisfaction.

2: “I’m Not Afraid Anymore!”

Yes you are.

Rebels have fear, but they have more courage. Over time, they listen less and less to the fear because they listen more to their courage.

In business, employees can easily become complacent, turning into yes men and yes women. This may feel great if you’re the leader, for awhile.

If nobody rocks the boat though, it’s bound to stay at sea. If your people don’t do it, then surely the ocean will, and won’t be so forgiving for your crew’s complacency.

By allowing a rebel to be courageous without as much punishment, they can tell the truth, and keep the ship on course. A great rebel would have the courage to tell the captain about the whirlpool a mile ahead.

A great leader would check the facts and perspective of the rebel before deciding which way to row the boat.

3: I See Things a Different Way

A rebel breaks the rules to cause havoc, if it’s their intention. The rebel in the workplace doesn’t intend to harm others, but seeks to bring a new perspective.

While the leader may view things one way, and keep pushing for it to be that way, the rest of his crew may just row along in whatever direction they are told.

The rebel will see the rocks in the waves the captain overlooked, or the oncoming storm that’s on the horizon — further than where the captain was looking.

  • Having different perspectives allows new ideas and concepts to emerge.
  • Having different perspectives allows a rebel to point out the hole in the bottom of the ship, when everyone else thought it was going to be a pleasant cruise.
  • Having different perspectives grants the rebel the opportunity to see how the competition may take over, and offer a solution to head them off before the ship is sunk.

4: Captain, oh Captain! Stay my Captain

If comfort is the killer of ambition, then challenge is its fuel.

People who have all they want can fall into the trap of comfort. When people are comfortable, it’s easy to be blindsided by competition.

A rebel in the workplace should question and challenge the leadership, to keep them from sitting comfortably. If the rebel is the leader, they should create a community of fearless innovation.

The job of the rebel on any ship is to ignite the captain’s responsibility to keep the crew headed toward its destination, and to ensure the captain doesn’t become so comfortable in his navigator that the course they set doesn’t bring them to peril.

Another benefit of having a rebel on the workforce is that it grants leaders an opportunity to flex their muscle. By flexing their muscle, they can remain strong, grow, and push themselves further ahead toward the goals.

5: Innovation

A requirement of innovation is to make something exponentially better. If everyone is fine with how things are, there will be sameness, conformity, and eventually, a lack of growth and ambition.

A rebel doesn’t accept every rigid rule as the only way things can be done. They seek to find new ways to do things, which can be itself an innovation.

Instead of sticking with the same old ways, a rebel can find ways to do the same, or more, using less resources. They can be resourceful, which is innovative.

Even if the idea is outlandish, weird, strange, or odd, a rebel should be allowed to pursue that path. In order for innovation to exist, one must be allowed to experiment; give the rebel free reign to try new and different things.

Caution!

We must not forget that a rebel is still an employee, and must be treated as such. They should still be held to the same standards — and a standard is a bare minimum of quality — as other employees, with one exception:

The rebel must be allowed to question the decisions of his or her leaders without immediate dismissal. Of course, derogatory, insults, and anything illegal, should not be tolerated; anything that diminishes a person’s character should not be tolerated.

If you could be a rebel at work, what would you do?

Stop Complaining! What Are Your Solutions?

We all know people who complain a lot. Maybe it’s you, your coworker, or your boss. What we really need are solutions, though, and I hope you have one.

Complainers drag down the workplace, the dinner table, and friendships. Yet, that seems to be the place that people complain the most: places where solutions and love should be shared.

Look, if you have something to complain about, it’s better to ask yourself, “Do I want to solve this”, or “Do I want to just bitch and hope someone else will solve it for me?

Most people opt for the second question. They complain about their life. They complain about the system. They complain that they don’t have enough money. They complain they can’t get a job.

They just complain.

It’s an addiction that feeds upon itself. Eventually, with enough complaining, they’ll start fighting the thoughts in their head.

Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result.

Yeah, well the definition of a bitch is someone who complains over and over again, expecting someone else to fix their problem.

Complaints are what caused us to create insane asylums. People back in the day knew how to handle these nutcases: locked ’em up so they didn’t have to hear it, and the rest of us got on with our lives.

We did away with the insane asylums, because someone complained about them. I think that’s why the Internet is full of people complaining about whatever the media tells them to.

If you’re the kind of person that wants their complaints to go away, then there’s good news for you. Two guys invented a search engine in the 1990’s called Google, and it’s very accurate at finding solutions to your complaints.

Might I suggest asking Google, “Why is my boss a jerk?

If you really need help, ask Google, “Why am I a jerk?

Don’t forget to include yourself in the evaluation.

You’ll never stop complaints, though. Complaints from customers. Complaints from the government. Complaints from suppliers, distributors, and clients. These are people you can’t do without.

The one thing you don’t have to tolerate is complaints from employees. I don’t mean ignore them, but ask them up front when they do complain, “Do you have a solution?”

If the answer is no, then they’re just complaining. They’re hoping you’ll solve the problem for them. As the manager, it’s your duty to address these complaints in a timely manner.

Some bosses fire complainers, which I admire. Get rid of the person who habitually complains. It’s a good indicator they’re not even doing their job in the first place.

Most bosses ignore complaints, and especially the complainers.

I’m interested in the bosses who help employees grow to the point that they stop complaining (so much). Useful employees hear a complaint in their head, and the solution is right behind it.

The best way to train your employees to solve their complaints is to make them available on the company bulletin board. Put the employee’s name next to it, so everyone knows. It’ll discourage complaining.

You can also encourage employees to find solutions. Make it a game: “Whoever clears the bulletin board of complaints the fastest, lunch is on me for a week!”

Congratulations, now you have a real problem solver.

Have a Solution

I emphasize the need for solutions, because that’s what makes complaints go away. If you feel stuck in your career, and you say to yourself, “My career is going nowhere,” then you have to own up to it.

The answer is usually in the complaint. “My career is going nowhere,” should point out that it’s your career, not someone else’s. Therefore it’s your responsibility – the ability to respond – to the belief that it’s not going anywhere.

Here’s a list of things you can do to improve your career.

  • Learn a new skill.
  • Learn more about your industry.
  • Change Companies (Maybe your boss is a jerk, and the new one won’t be.)
  • Show up to work on time with a better attitude.
  • Find a better attitude, first, though.
  • Re-educate yourself, through books, audio books, seminars, conferences, videos, articles, magazines, how-to guides.
  • Get a mentor. Someone else figured it out a long time ago; ask them.
  • Go surfing.
  • Go fishing.
  • Get out of the office for a while. Taken a vacation lately?
  • Knock over the water cooler.

Okay, don’t do that last one, at least not on purpose. Make it look like an accident.

The point is, your complaints will be your complaints until you turn them into your solutions. You solve something first by taking a step in the direction of what you’re complaining about.

Say you don’t like the lighting in your office. Solution: tell the boss, and ask him to put different lights in the office. Let him know they’re giving you skin cancer, and that will only, in the future, raise the cost of the company healthcare plan, and leave him liable for your health.

So I gotta ask…

What are your complaints,
and just as important,
the solutions to those complaints?

Your name will be listed with them in the comments below. It’ll encourage others to provide solutions, myself included.

It’s More Important to Maintain Success than Just to Achieve It

We love the thrill of accomplishing a goal. We struggle, grow, and then achieve the reward: An experience, emotion, our creation comes to life. Our hunger is satisfied, and then we ask, “What’s next?”

Success coaches say to aim for greater goals. You reached a plateau, and if you don’t push yourself higher, you’ll push yourself lower, right off the cliff.

While this is true, they leave out a key ingredient that the world’s icons of success and fulfillment have mastered, and that is maintaining success.

Maintaining success is the combination of hunger, fuel, and drive that cause us to grow. First, though, we must look at this machine we call success. It’s a cycle that looks like this:

  1. You decide what you want.
  2. You struggle to achieve it.
  3. You achieve your goal.
  4. Your emotional high fizzles out.
  5. You start searching for another goal.

CycleOfSuccess

When you reach steps 4 and 5, that’s when you start to feel that something is missing. That search for more, or another, meaning, the question, “What else is there,” shows up.

Most people don’t even get through step #2. They usually struggle but don’t grow and reach the next step, which isn’t too far behind. Those who succeed inevitably experience step 4, the fizzle of the emotion.

How do we avoid the fizzle of emotion? How can we be energized like Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Oprah Winfrey?

These icons don’t have a secret; it’s right there in front of us in their habits. That secret is maintained success. But, what is maintained success?

Maintained success is the compound learning and incremental success that fuels growth.

It’s the piano player who continues lessons and practicing after her solo at Carnegie Hall.

It’s the NBA basketball player who shoots hoops with friends for fun.

It’s the business executive who learns about human trends to capitalize on what people need and want.

These habits include some of the most basic things in life, that we all have access to, in some form or another. The richer can take bigger monetary risks, but it doesn’t take much to pick up a book, watch an online video, and use creativity to inspire us.

Albert Einstein said, “Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… pays it.”

Compound interest doesn’t just apply to finances, it also applies to knowledge, wisdom, physical and emotional fitness, love, care, and giving.

I’ve read roughly 400 books. With each book, I compound my knowledge, granting me greater wisdom than I had the day before.

Call it compound knowledge, compound wisdom, compound fitness, compounded emotions. Wouldn’t it be great to feel greater with each passing day? Of course it would.

By the way, wealthy people read extensively because the compounded wisdom helps them make continued choices that lead to more success (more money, more choices, more emotion, more giving).

Start by creating tiny goals, and build upon them. Read a book a month, at ten pages a day, for thirty days. That’s three hundred pages in a month. More than 3,000 in a year. Certainly you can read ten pages a day.

You’ll find yourself reading more than ten pages a day, because your mind will become hungrier for more. As more Americans continue to feed their guts more and more food, their stomachs get hungrier. So it is with the mind. So it is with maintained success.

You can compound physical fitness, to strengthen your legs, waist, arms, and back. You don’t have to do it all at the same time, and you aren’t going to see a dramatic transformation overnight

Compounding your physical growth will create maintained success: you’ll run further and longer each day; you’ll lift heavier weights and more often; you’ll jump or climb higher.

You’ll want to, never feeling that you have to. Nobody wants to have to to something, but we really love doing the things we want to do. Maintained success ignites this fire in each of us.

You could opt for a diet supplement, but that’s like trying to win the lottery. How often do people win the lottery, and how many of those winners keep their money? Very few. The few that do learned the habits of maintaining money, not just spending it when they get their paycheck — like most people.

Most people want that big goal, the one success that will set them free. Yet, over a lifetime, they can build up more success that sets not just their finances free, but themselves.

If you maintained the success of reading more, you’ll have a wealth of wisdom to draw from that, in our current economy where wisdom is valued, you’ll no longer have to fear not being able to find a job, regardless of the economic situation.

Look for something you can do today, and then something you can do tomorrow. Repeat, and you’ll find that enjoying the big successes will last because you would have built the habit that keeps that emotional high going.

That habit is maintained success.

To Be a Better Programmer, Join Your Users for a Day

If you want to be a better programmer, join your users for a day.

Or, put another way, spend time with the people who use the software you write. Learn what they do in the daily tasks, and pay attention. You’ll find things computers can’t analyze and users say — either they don’t notice, or they feel embarrassed or self-conscious.

Ask questions.

Asking questions is the best way to get someone to tell you what they want. Most people don’t know what they want because they don’t ask themselves quality questions. You, as a programmer, are in a position to ask questions with the mind to build a better product — so you have the perspective of asking quality questions already.

While people can tell you what they want, there are other things to pay attention to. Among them are:

  • What’s tedious?
  • What’s annoying?
  • What’s fun and enjoyable?
  • What’s irritating?
  • What’s time consuming?
  • What’s wasting their time?
  • What is inefficient in their process?

These questions can be answered by paying attention to the user’s response to their tasks. Notice their tone of voice, if they talk faster or slower, if they take more time or work quickly. These signs are subtle, but they do help to address solving all the little, built up problems, that may hinder a user’s productivity.

The purpose of developing software is to improve efficiency by reducing errors and time spent on work. We can write all the fancy code we want, make it as quick and sleek as possible… but if it does nothing to improve the work and lives of our users, then what good is it?

In nearly every job I’ve had, I’ve spent time around the other workers, to get a feel and understanding for what they’re doing. Sometimes my boss would tell me not to, but I did it anyway — and eventually they learned why. I’ve always been in a role to support others, either the customer directly, or the other workers. It was only natural that I knew what they did.

I worked at a dealership, as the dispatcher – the guy who sent jobs around the shop to the technicians. I was sure to make friends with the techs, and it worked: I transitioned an shop that had been around since the 1920’s, from using pen and paper, to using computers. All of that, and I was only 19.

I did it by spending time with the techs, and learning what was important to them. I spent time with the service advisers, and learned what was important to them. The lot attendants, the salespeople, the office support staff, the managers, and more. All the while asking questions, and observing their daily tasks. How many 19 yr olds do you know who could take a group of 30+, 50-60 yr old men, set in their ways, and get them to use computers for the first time, with their incomes on the line?

I continue this behavior, even today, with myself, and others. I seek out what is important to them, and observe their routines. Spending a day with the user helps me to understand what they want, and why they want it. It’s up to me to deliver it to them. And that, makes me, a better programmer.