So, it’s not likely that the people you know will admit this, but… you may very well be WAY more kickass than you realize! .. hey now, don’t let that get to your head, because if I’m right, it can be pretty damn frustrating!
The first step is admitting there is a disconnect. Then, you realize there are some options. You can be patient and strategically influence others or maybe realize your passionate and extraordinary talents are aimed at the wrong people… and could even be more lucrative with the right focus and opportunities!
Admitting you are a revolutionary
Okay, how do you know for sure that you are revolutionary? Let’s throw some scenarios out there and if you find yourself nodding your head while reading most of these… you could be the person I am talking about. Here it goes:
- You plead a case that makes perfect and clear sense to you, but somehow people need to hear it from someone else before they can really “take it in” and buy into it — Almost like you need a “translator”
- Sometimes in meetings or projects you look around and wonder “I am speaking English, right?”
- You propose ideas that take years for an organization or group to “get” and most times they still don’t quite implement it “right”.
- You jump to the problem, solution, or innovation before anyone else. (Sometimes, this means people disagree with you right away, think through it, and end up agreeing with you– even if they don’t realize it themselves!)
- You find it hard to completely relate to other sharp people around you 100% of the time — not because you don’t get them, but because sometimes, you get the feeling that they are smiling, nodding and just trusting your perspective.
- You find yourself often getting introduced to new products, services, or ideas, and saying.. “Hey, I [thought of/tried to sell/tried to build/tried to convince others about] that a while back! I should have stuck with it.”
Well, if those descriptions strike home for you, congratulations! Odds are, you are a KICKASS Revolutionary!! 🙂 People, bosses, organizations, cultures, and civilization as a whole need you! You are a bold problem solver with strong mental skills. You ROCK, and most people don’t give you enough credit or let you know how important you are. (You may even shy away from the limelight and fanfare, because you just want to get stuff done.) You also seriously share the ranks with successful CEOs… Michael Dell, Bill Gates, Steve jobs, and those guys from Google and Youtube. Yes, you have a shitload of potential. REALLY.
Now, the real downside… who wants to work in an environment of being mostly misunderstood!? Are you happy in that situation? That’s where choices come into play. Maybe you have already subliminally found your way to happy and productive growth, and that’s really cool. Share your secrets! Maybe this will be validation for you. I would venture to guess that for most revolutionaries, they are oblivious to their mental kungfu and it’s been a series of compromises and acceptance that the world doesn’t work the way it should.
Back to the choices, I see primarily 2 options for Revolutionaries. Neither is better than the other per se and, in fact, they may be switched around when it comes time to assess whether you are happy with the success in your situation at the moment.
Plan A: Strategically herd the cats
This is a perfectly acceptable option, and just takes a personal focus shift to master and navigate political BS. It’s completely doable with a little preparation and awareness around where your skills compare and make the most sense for the organization in your view and those at the top.
Speak your mind to the top and get an amicable dialogue going
Look to a political mentor to champion your cause or buy into your ideas. Look for small opportunities to prove your point. The approach of doing so is up to you. Note, that it may be easier phrasing your position through questions that are based as a clarification around something recently announced publicly or your company-wide goals. This technique can be useful in what I call “boiling the frog”. It’s more commonly known as the Socratic Method. look it up.
Try to finagle a “Labs” project or just start out rogue
Sell the idea of looking into a small project with just getting paid to dedicate a few hours per week to developing an idea or prototype. Also identify some other key people (I call this the garage band) that will help you get it going and keep you motivated.
Look for opportunities to point out successful examples of similar or slightly larger organizations have had. The companies don’t have to be in the exact same field. Many times themes from general aspects like merging ecommerce with social networking can get futuristic ideals across. Basically, you have to be willing to plant seeds in the right people’s minds… even when they don’t know they are ready for it.
If selling the idea first is more effort than you are willing to do, don’t ask permission. Just do it! Work on a prototype. The tradeoff you make here is that you may not be getting paid for the hours you put in, and no one is expecting the elevator demo pitch, but maybe you can finesse a middle ground. Also, I have found that even garage bands need a little fire under them. Working towards a committed deadline can give more immediacy and make the decision for committing off time harder to procrastinate. (I definitely don’t have this skill honed)
Key things to know about Plan A
It will be rewarding, frustrating, and most of all a learning experience about people, pressures, and business BUT knowing your worth and your skills, you can jump to option 2. but be aware that when selecting option 2, you always have SOMEONE to convince… investors, board of directors, clients, etc. Jumping ship or being your own boss can be harder than your current situation. Grass is always greener.
If you can’t get buy in from coworkers to be apart of the voluntary garage band, look outside. Check out local events like barcamp.org. There are tons of passionate people that are looking for a hobby and want your vision to create something great! Trust me.
Plan B: Look at other ways to Focus your skills
Are you focused on the right job? What are your strengths and weaknesses? How can you best focus your sweet skills? What team set up works best for you? What schedule is your “I kickass mostly at this time of day/week/month”?
You could look at other job postings
This could be internal and external. Perhaps your role doesn’t currently have the more strategic influence that it should. Roles like that are out there. Notably, most organizations that post job descriptions don’t always mean what they say .. or mean it the way you read it, so getting to know the company and contacting ex-employees in that group, can help set you up for appropriate questions to ask the interviewer or recruiter. Oddly enough, you are interviewing the company and position — not the other way around. (Yes, you are that needed!)
Think: Will that job give you the appropriate leeway and respect to do what you do best.?That is the list of REAL benefits. (read my earlier post on why your title is meaningless and your department may be a joke) HR perks are the bonus. They won’t keep you bought into a dead end that forces you to execute on misinformed organization — unless you really decide on sticking to Plan A. The good news is… it’s still your choice. 🙂
You could go out on your own
This is a tricky endeavor and usually includes careful planning, great contacts, pretty good reputation, and realistic fall back plans… or some risky dumb luck and a sugardaddy. I am definitely not the expert on how to do it, but I can say that with the right strategic navigation of your skills, there is a booming market where your futuristic ideas as silly and obvious as you may seem to think now.. are the next big thing in a few years!
Going out on your own can be much like the exercise of putting a garage band together. It takes discipline and self awareness about the skills you do and do not have and frankly your thresholds and boundaries. Many CEOs needed the partnership of a different personality to balance out a successful business. The financial and business sense of it is just as crucial if not more so when you go out on your own. I’ve heard it’s a real learning experience. For more experienced detail on stuff like this, lookup Garret Dimon, Brian Fling, Jeff Corkan, Brian Oberkirch and Jake McKee for insight.
Another touchy soft skill and Intellectual Property aspect to be aware of is in the transition from worker to possibly competitor can be a big political awakening. I don’t know about you, but I am not a big fan of being sued. Don’t let it scare you off by any means, but cover your bases.
Key things to know about Plan B
Know when to ask for help, and be very careful about burning bridges. I can speak from experience that bottling up frustrations and letting them out at a key interval may feel really good at the time, but its a small industry. It can be overcome, because revolutionaries can be notoriously hard to work with, yet respected for their work and contributions. Just be aware that when you think that person that violently gets on your nerves because they “doesn’t get it” or “is just a worthless ladder climber”, you may directly or indirectly be impacted by that person’s perception of YOU. That means lost jobs, clients, projects and MONEY! I’ve seen it happen AND I’ve burned bridges and even repaired one or two.
About Success as a revolutionary
Most of all, realize what the hell you want and what makes you happy and productive. Winning as a revolutionary is about using your assets and skills while continually learning about what works and doesn’t work. Keeping a zest for playing with the “experimentation” of non-revolutionary thinking is what makes you a revolutionary in the first place! The risk has the potential for great success or great failure for whomever the “owner” of your endeavor is. Food for thought, maybe you have more tangible suggestions for plan C “don’t quite your day job, but innovate on the side” but, most of all… Don’t lose hope in your ideas, and keep KICKING ASS!!