You remember the eighth and final rule of “Fight Club?
“If this is your first time at Fight Club, you have to fight.”
Do you find yourself putting authority on a pedestal? So much so that you give too much respect and credence to all that claim it? Or do you think everything you’re “supposed” to think? Well then, this blog is for you.
I’m scratching my head right now, wondering, why are we always so agreeable? “Oh, you look so good in that dress, not!” “Oh, that was the most genius marketing plan I’ve ever read, stupid.” “Oh, I wish that I could be an inspiring leader like you, douchebag.”
I see better fights on Facebook than I do at the office. I’m just waiting for my fellow coworkers to fight it out beer pong style and jump into a giant pool of jello and hash it out like good ol’ frat boys. Ah, the good old days, I’m smiling. Anyway, much to my chagrin, I’m 99.9% certain that’s not going to happen.
It has become unacceptable, and even downright errant, in today’s society to challenge the norm, to think for ourselves, or to be willing to fight for what we can prove is right. And for me, I think that’s downright senseless.
Thinking, not doing—what a novel idea.
I used to work on a medical device product. A product that would seemingly change and better people’s lives. But as I worked through the product development, I realized that there was something critically wrong. Rather than saving lives, this product, in its current design, had the potential to end people’s lives.
But I was afraid to say anything. I was terrified to be entitled the “whistle blower.” So I tried to prove myself wrong by doing copious amounts of research, by considering redesign—fighting with myself to find a new solution.
In all of my energy trying to prove myself wrong, I realized that I had only solidified my position in being right. So I finally stepped up and said something. I decided that my fear of getting ousted was not as mission critical as it was to save lives.
And guess what I found out? My entire team, including the executives, had the same concerns as me, yet no one was willing to stand up and say something. My path to get to this point was horrendous, but I’ll tell you in the end, I, and my company, reaped the rewards by simply questioning ourselves and having the willingness to start over to find a better answer—the right answer.
The willingness to start over. We all need more of that passion. That inner drive to question what’s right, and more importantly, what’s wrong.
It’s ok to have conflict. And it’s just fine to have a confrontation. By god, its human nature to disagree. Agreement doesn’t always neutral out the bad.
So here you go, here’s five ways that you can fight the good fight and come out the other side on top.
Think for yourself
Don’t let someone else tell you what or how to think. You’re not a robot and you certainly don’t need to be led around by a leash. Working toward a goal requires a lot of self-introspection and understanding. All work, even what might seem to be trivial, deserves creative thinking.
I hate to use this term, but thinking outside of the box is what gets you noticed. It’s that extra stroke of effort that our supervisors see that sets us apart from the rest. So allow yourself to think. Don’t just operate under the auspice of what you think people want. Think it out and don’t worry if your point of view is incongruent to others. By varying opinions, superior ideas come about. And by thinking for yourself, it will catch on, and you will find yourself in an organization that can think together, without just “talking to themselves.”
Engage in constructive conflict
Constructive is the key idea here. People can disagree at work. It’s the strategic way that you handle the conflict that is the art. You don’t want to be known as the gunslinger. You want to be known as the one that poses the intelligent questions that prompt teammates to think further.
There is a price to pay for avoiding confrontation—and its mediocrity.
Strong, well-oiled teams can be built on the notion that constructive conflict is just part of the way business is done. Just like my work example above, I think that once the conflict happens, and the onion is peeled, you will find that the co-worker that you had the disagreement with probably had some of the same issues and concerns himself.
Be prepared to change your mind
I’m always right—blah, blah, blah. Save it. Seriously, no one can be right all of the time. In fact, it’s more effective to try to prove yourself, and others, wrong. If you want to be a competent, respected leader, then just accept that change (in thinking, direction, strategy, etc.) is good. Find your problem, defend your statements, stand up to authority, and find the right solution.
Create competition, because competition is good
I hate all of these moms and dads these days that tell their kids that it’s ok to lose. What the hell? We don’t want to lose. We want to win. Fortunately, or I guess for some unfortunately, there is always a winner. And no one remembers the runner up. There’s no pity party here people.
So establish a positive and peaceful spirit of competition (no in-fighting, no personal attacks, etc.) in your department. Put people together, force them to compete for the better idea and see what happens. This is how you develop talent. Fight for your position and brilliance and greatness will happen.
Openness is the beginning. Withholding learning, rather knowledge, to your self doesn’t do anyone good. And it’s reasonable to believe that disasters come from corporations, from people that are unwilling to share.
Find your partners at work, hopefully those include your teammates, and create an environment of openness with them. Be transparent about successes and failures. That’s how we all learn.
Leave it all out on the table. And even when it gets tough, you get tougher by pushing for more. Break the silence and enable people to do their best thinking. Openness will facilitate questions, which will return something, or someone better. Better employees, better service, better products.
Trust me, you’re not going to get fired because you question the SOP. Even though we all think that everything is safe up to a certain threshold, that comfort of security might just be what is holding you back.
In the insightful words of Tyler from “Fight Club,” “Start a fight. Prove you’re alive. If you don’t claim your humanity you will become a statistic.”
I dare you to start thinking differently. I encourage you to push the boundaries of the rules. I want you to find a collaborator that will work to prove you wrong. Fight the good fight man. I promise that you’ll be more creative and triumphant.