Rebelling your way into total failure

Thinking outside of the box, thinking different, doing things your way, finding your own vision, etc.  A lot of business advice and career advice I hear – and indeed preach – is about not necessarily following everyone else.

This of course is a valid point – most people's successes are individual, and you have to find the proper balance in your career of doing what works, and what works for YOU.

Unfortunately some people take "rebellion against the norm" a wee bit too seriously and manage to rebel themselves into complete and utter failure.

Like it or not there is some advice, business practice, career foci, and so forth that most people have to follow for success.  You may not like networking, you may not like doing (or outsourcing) the budget for your company, you may not like having a time chart for your appointments.  However just because you don't like it doesn't mean it's not a good idea.

Unfortunately, you will encounter people who resist good advice period, and in many frustrating cases, do the complete opposite of what you or other people advice just to be contrary.

In most cases, I find they end up pretty miserable.

It's great to think out of the box and be a rebel – says the IT Project Manager who works in gaming and speaks at anime cons on careers.  I'm not exactly the pinnacle of normal-and-average.

But it's also a fact that there are things that you often have to do, have to be good at, have to try, and have to buckle down and do to live your dreams.  Going out of your way to be contrarian is probably just going to come back and bite you – and if you watch many "rebels" in business and careers, you'll often find a lot of not-so-rebellious behavior.

Why does this happen?  I find the "rebel without a career" happens for a few reasons:

  • General resistance.  The most frustrating one, people who are just contrarian period, and won't listen to anyone.  They usually pick up this habit because people often bugged them a lot in life to do particular things and made it a habit of doing the opposite.
  • Passive resistance.  Similar to general resistance, some people just get sick of people pestering them with advice and tune them out.
  • The idealized rebel.  It's a cultural issue at least in American culture that there's some idea of the person who Breaks All The Rules and succeeds.  This is often a lazy way out – noting some people didn't play by the rules and succeeded, thus one doesn't have to.  This ignores the fact that many of the "rebels" actually had a lot of hard work to do – the Rami Brothers had to manage to get Evil Dead into the can on a low budget, Bill Gates applied business plans to software, Behemoth had to work damn hard on Castle Crashers, etc.

There's a time to think outside of the boxin your career and a time not to do so.  You have to figure this out or you'll rebel yourself into irrelevance.

– Steven Savage