Disappointment and the Maverick

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Disappointment and the Maverick. There’s a fair few opportunities for disappointment for me as I write this. I am disappointed about the state of the world. War, famine, floods … and then there’s the environmental crisis (and the worldwide apathy which makes it worse every single day). Big issues.

I am disappointed about quite a few things closer to home: the potholes in my local area; my cats’ inability to eat neatly and not fling bits of minced up unpleasantness all over the floor; my neighbourhood’s lack of anywhere decent to go out in the evening. Tiny issues, not really worthy of the energy of disappointment really, aren’t they?

In my business, I am disappointed most by people’s behaviour. Whether it is to one another or to me, poor behaviour has an impact much closer to the Big issues I have listed above, than the tiny niggles that irritate at such a minor level. War and environmental disaster happen as a result of poor behaviour. It’s that simple.

The issue that disappoints is that the poor behaviour is a result of poor choices. And it’s THAT which is the key.

Recently, I have witnessed some very poor choices by clients and companies with whom I work. Meetings cancelled so someone could take the afternoon off (when the meeting has been arranged a month). Payments taking over a month (when my terms are a fortnight). These things are decisions by people taken without a care about their impact, so long as their own interests are served.  

As a Maverick [1], I am accustomed to being wilfully independent in my thinking always, my actions, sometimes. You might think my problem is simply “the boot being on the other foot” and I am receiving a dose of my own medicine. I would argue, however, that I take my personal impact on others very seriously. My business is working with people to help them improve their effectiveness, after all. What kind of coach would I be, to act selfishly and only in my own interests? This means I really take exception to poor behaviour, because I know that it involves someone actively choosing to take an action that would be to someone else’s detriment. And why would anyone do that, unless it was to save their lives? A sneaky afternoon off is hardly in that league, is it?

So, are we saying that disappointment is a trigger for me because others are “out-Mavericking” me? Is it simply an exercise in competing wilfulness?

No.

Being a Socialised Maverick [2] also means I am keenly aware of the need for people to get along, to get the best out of a situation. That could be a workplace, or an executive team, or even companies working together in a supply chain. A key part of “getting along” is that people behave towards one another with respect, affording one another courtesy and dignity. It sounds lofty but it’s really not that hard – being polite, honest and acting with positive intent. And that’s the Socialised Maverick way, as I understand it, to manifest in those I know.

And this is what disappoints. In fact, it offends me. It is the fact that people are actively choosing to behave badly toward other people so casually. There is no burning imperative, no life-or-death impact that causes them to make such poor choices. It is selfishness and an “I’m alright, Jack” mentality which prevails. At the small level it is shown in the afternoon-off because she felt like it (as you can tell, this REALLY grates!). However, on the larger level, this approach has led the Global North to pollute and/or export pollutants to the Global South countries in an exploitative way which could be described as malevolent neglect. 

I have written previously in this magazine about how freely Mavericks can behave. This sometimes happened to great effect as in building resilience and coping with setbacks. This sometimes happened to damaging impact on a global scale, when I described the “Loki” tendency of some current international leaders. Sometimes, however, even as a Maverick, you have to accept that human nature is one thing, but controlling it with decency, integrity and manners is another. And it is that “another” which is so important, whether it’s the little niggles in the workplace, or discussions of global importance at the Security Council of the United Nations. Wherever there are Mavericks, there WILL be wilful independence. The trick is that Maverickness runs alongside behaviour. It can influence our behaviour, but it should never excuse it. Sometimes, it’s our fundamental humanity that needs to win that competition.

Footnote

[1] Mavericks have been defined as wilfully independent people by Judith Germain since 2005

{2] Socialised Maverick defined by Judith Germain. The Maverick Paradox: The Secret Power Behind Successful Leaders (PublishNation 2017)