Rebelling is all about leaving behind what feels safe and familiar and embracing new and different experiences. Without rebellion, how can we expect anything to change for the better? Sticking to the norm hinders progress and innovation. And honestly, it’s just plain boring. Successful companies understand this well — they must constantly innovate if they want to outshine their rivals. And guess what? Personal branding works the same way. If you want to get ahead and climb that ladder of success, you need a brand that shows you’re here to make a difference.
The herd mentality at work
A survey conducted by Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino asked over 1,000 employees from different industries about their work environments. Less than 10% of the participants said that their companies encouraged questioning the established way of doing things. Gino explains that both employees and organisations suffer negative consequences when this lack of encouragement occurs, such as decreased engagement, productivity, and innovation.
As people progress in their careers, they often feel more pressure to conform to the norms and expectations of their workplace. This is because it’s easier and more efficient for managers to handle employees who follow the rules, rather than those who challenge them. And most people would rather be part of the herd than stand out as independent thinkers. A study on peer pressure conducted by psychologist Solomon Asch in the 1950s found that 75% of people will choose an incorrect answer just to fit in with the majority.
Rebels are more than just troublemakers
Many of us often get the wrong idea about rebels. We tend to think that going against the grain is all about seeking attention. But true rebellion runs much deeper than that. In reality, rebelling just for the sake of grabbing eyeballs usually leads to being noticed for all the wrong reasons. Sometimes, it’s better to go along with the crowd and play by the rules.
Let’s take collaboration in a business as an example. You can’t just do things your own way – working together is necessary to distribute work fairly among the group and achieve a common goal. Everyone contributes their fair share of productivity, and the group recognises the greater good that can be achieved through teamwork.
However, there are also times when it’s good to break away from the usual way of doing things in your company. To become a constructive rebel, you need to believe that your actions will actually make a difference for your team or company. Rebels aren’t troublemakers just causing problems for fun. They understand the flaws in existing systems and structures and know that progress cannot happen by sticking to old ways. These types of people have the courage to question long-standing traditions and rules that stop us from growing, innovating, and becoming better.
What separates rebels from troublemakers is their intention and how they go about it. They choose specific rules that they believe are holding us back, and they challenge them with the goal of making things better.
It’s only through rebellion that we challenge the status quo, push boundaries, and pave the way for progress and improvement. If everyone simply sticks to what feels safe and familiar, we would be stuck in a stagnant world without any innovation or growth.
Let go of the urge to be someone you’re not — inside each of us resides a rebel
We often fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others — our neighbours, friends, or colleagues — and even try to imitate those who seem successful. But the reality is, if we attempt to be someone else, we will never achieve genuine success. Each of us possesses unique talents, strengths, and perspectives that make us who we are. It is by embracing our authentic selves that we can truly thrive and find fulfilment in our journey.
You don’t have to be some sort of prodigy or an expert with years of experience under your belt to dive into something new. Age doesn’t define your abilities either. Forget about spending countless hours researching every little detail. And please, don’t waste your time waiting for that elusive “perfect” moment because, trust me, it’s not showing up anytime soon.
Tactics for becoming an effective rebel leader
When you’ve had that “aha” moment and recognised how embracing a rebellious mindset in your career can bring about incredible personal and professional growth, it’s time to kick things into gear. Here are three simple steps, inspired by the wise words of behavioural scientist and author Francesca Gino, that can assist you in embracing your inner rebel and chart a course towards success and influence:
#1: Challenge your own assumptions and mindset
To embark on the path of rebellion, you need to question and challenge your own beliefs. Of course, this is a lot easier said than done. We tend to feel more comfortable sticking to what we know, and we find ourselves agreeing with the majority to avoid conflict or maintain a sense of harmony. But this conformity stifles innovation and progress.
Instead, cultivate a mindset that values critical thinking and questioning the status quo. Understand that being a rebel talent does not equate to being combative but rather thoughtful in your approach. When you challenge your own assumptions, you open the door to new perspectives and possibilities.
#2: Master the past to create the future
Before demanding change or pointing out perceived flaws, it’s important to develop a comprehensive understanding of the existing processes and systems. Take the time to immerse yourself in the history and context of your organisation or field. Familiarise yourself with all the practices, norms, and the reasoning behind them.
By mastering the past, you gain the knowledge necessary for meaningful innovation. When you propose changes or improvements, you can back them up with a deep understanding of what has come before, which increases your credibility and influence.
#3: Start small but think big
While your rebel spirit may be eager to make a grand entrance, it’s often wiser to start small and gradually build momentum. Begin by making thoughtful suggestions, offering alternative perspectives, and raising concerns and considerations in a polite and respectful manner. Understand that effective message delivery is key to gaining support for your ideas.
Companies value efficiency but also benefit from reflection and open discussion. So, manage your strong opinions by framing them as invitations for collaboration and dialogue. Be confident in expressing your thoughts and remain open to feedback and alternative viewpoints. Sometimes, the smallest suggestions can have a significant impact and pave the way for more significant changes down the line.
As you strive to develop a personal brand driven by rebellion, keep in mind that it’s not about creating chaos or pursuing conflict for its own sake. Instead, it’s about daring to challenge the status quo, nurturing innovation, and igniting real change.
The bottom line
If you genuinely desire to bring about meaningful transformations in your life and accomplish your goals, then you need to tap into your inner rebel — the part of you that’s not afraid to push the boundaries society has set. At the end of the day, rebels make things happen. It might feel a little intimidating to go against the grain at first, but it’s ultimately what leads to innovation and getting ahead in life.