Be Provocative – Rattle Some Cages

A post published on our dear friend, Mike Reuter‘s leadership blog (Three Minute Leadership). 

In his inspiring book, UNthinkErik Wahl, teaches great leaders the power of their creative genius: “Once you learn to unthink how you live and work – everything will change …. And it begins when you see who you truly are.” Being provocative is a key to unleashing this genius. Quoting Mark Twain, he writes: “Loyalty to petrified opinions never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul in this world – and never will.”

Being provocative means “resurrecting your artist inside,” breaking with past perceptions by others and ourselves of who we are. Wahl uses John Lennon as example of “those of us who want our best work to stand out and have the impact it truly can be.” His life is a testimony and role model of being provocative.

“Despite what you thought about John Lennon, it was impossible to ignore him. He was a dreamer who didn’t keep his dreams to himself.  He was courageous enough to provide those around him to imagine a better life, whether or not they agreed with his notions of how. But what is often lost in the debate of his life is that, ultimately, John Lennon wanted little more than you or I want.  ‘When I went to school,’ he once explained, “they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy.’  They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

Wahl writes: “The only difference between Lennon and the average person is that he was willing to do something about his pursuit of happiness rather than let circumstances dictate life for him…. And that is what will elevate you and your work to your true potential- if you are willing to rattle some cages too, including your own.”  He concludes with inspiring quotes the bring power and poignancy to his message.

“To sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying.” Joan of Arc

”If to be feelingly alive to the suffering of my fellow-creatures is to be a fanatic, I am one of the most incurable fanatics ever permitted to be at large.” William Wilberforce, English leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade

“ A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.” Mahatma Ghandi

“A man who would not die for something is not fit to live.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

“There is no passion to be found playing small.” Nelson Mandela

Of these courageous and daring leaders, he says: “All believed they had a say in the solution. And they did something you and I can do anytime we are faced with a challenge or problem.  They provoked themselves and others to find the  solution rather than sitting idly by and hoping for it to arrive by happenstance.”

Rattle some cages! Be that magnificent, perplexing, extraordinary and joyous artist who will “provoke the hearts and minds of the world… a model for those of us who want our best work to stand out and have the impact it truly can.” On your magnificent journey, remember John Lennon’s words: “I get by with a little help from my friends.” Let’s take care of each other.  We are all that we have … and that is priceless beyond our wildest dreams.

 Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

by Mike Reuter