“Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it.” – Winston Churchill
“The one who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The one who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been.” – Albert Einstein
I don’t think people should be afraid of being different. In fact, they should be much more afraid of being the same as everyone else.
Great leaders have a sort of addiction to seek the truth and continually question the status quo. They don’t do this because they are trying to start problems. They do it to find better ways to do things. We need these people. They help us to evolve. They help us to improve. They help us to progress. When they hear the phrase, “That’s how we’ve always done it”, they ignore it and find an alternative way.
There are those that refuse to conform out of rebellion. These people are not the types I am speaking of. These people are mostly out to create problems just for the sake of causing problems, in search of some sort of distorted pleasure. I am speaking about leaders who can easily recognize the need to question the status quo and break ranks. They have an instinct that there is a better way to do things that will benefit others. They are largely driven by a passion and desire to ultimately improve the lives of others. These are the leaders I am speaking of, the leaders who break ranks in order to unselfishly help others to live better lives.
Great business leaders have a very customer-centric view as it relates to the need for blazing new trails. They understand that challenging the status quo is not enough if it doesn’t actually solve a customer’s problem(s). A great example of this is Uber, the car service that has taken the entire industry by storm. Refusing to conform or falling to the pressure of the marketplace (and a powerful and rich industry) didn’t stop Uber. They challenged the status quo right to its face and rolled out a better way to do things, where people are benefiting greatly. Now that’s listening to the customer and refusing to conform!
I once read a book titled “The 100% Solution”, written by Mark McCormack. In this book, Mark puts forth the idea that people should NOT read the paper in the mornings. He sees the information as available to everyone, and that they are formulating their plans based on knowledge available to everyone. He asserts that great leaders need to see themselves as responsible for having uncommon knowledge. He believes that time is better spent in prayer and/or meditation on how best to serve the needs of that particular day. Personally, he says that he reads the paper only at the end of the day after he has done everything he can think of for that particular day.
Today, the problem with negative news is definitely growing. Negative news sells. Negative news is free. You can easily find it. The positive news is harder to find. Or, you need to create it yourself.
Most people are familiar with the story of David and Goliath. David had to break out of the conformity of fear and did so with great courage and faith. He knew what needed to be done, and he refused to join the others who were trembling in their tents.
Even families can put pressure on other family members to conform to the “family culture”. Sometimes the natural born leaders have a tough time growing up as they resist conformity.
There is a lot of dysfunction in today’s world, and it certainly takes a lot of courage to break ranks. Sometimes it can cause great pain and create waves that are unpleasant. Churches, companies, and governments can all be very dysfunctional, and anyone who challenges them can be quickly attacked. Such is what happened with Jesus when he broke ranks and preached peace and grace, as opposed to earning the right to go to Heaven. Jesus challenged the priests and caused great anger and backlash (hence, the crucifixion).
If a leader is not willing to break ranks, then they are just a puppet to make sure the current people in power keep their power. They effectively become a protector of the status quo, and nothing changes and nothing improves.
Jesus is the ultimate example of breaking ranks and challenging the establishment. He challenged the most important people of the most important institution, knowing full well that he would eventually meet his doom.
Jesus knew the truth, and he preached it. He did so without fear. He knew he would have to cause waves, conflict, and pain in order to set people free and to enlighten them to the truth. His motives were good. His motives were just. His motives were right.
Great leaders know that they must have the courage to break ranks and lead others to the truth and a better life.