In the Hidden Brain episode Rebel With A Cause, host Shankar Vedantam talks to author and social scientist Francesca Gino about the research she shares in her book Rebel Talent. They discuss the ways that various professionals—many of whom start with limited or no experience in their chosen field—create successful careers for themselves by breaking the rules. Of course, I found this reassuring as a creative whose work focuses on money.
Despite the fact that we glorify rebels—especially when their work supports capitalism—it’s not an easy path to tread. As much as some of us love the new, there are a lot of folx who would prefer things stayed the same. Rebels pose a threat and open us up to the terrifying/exciting depths of the unknown. And so, in the early stages of our work, we can find ourselves getting discredited and discouraged from pursuing our vision.
When I published an article in The Finacial Diet earlier this year, I learned first-hand how much people don’t like things that fall outside of the norm. Trolls showed up in droves in the comments section to criticize the factors that prompted me to leave my life as a digital nomad, to pick apart my coaching qualifications, and to dismiss my focus on helping creatives get into a healthier relationship with money.
After I got over my initial shock that this is how people chose to respond to a story that I’m applauded for in my social circles, I realized that these folx couldn’t see what I’m trying to do. The concept of wealth versus wellbeing was beyond them and so they decided that a productive use of their time would be to try and convince me that I need to abandon my current path to pursue something that they deemed more acceptable.
The thing is, to be a rebel is to make people uncomfortable. As Seth Godin so often talks about on his blog, our job is to create and relieve tension in the work that we do. It’s this tension that makes life interesting. It’s this tension that gives us—and others—a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Because maybe today is the day that the change we’re seeking to make happens. Maybe none of us will be the same after we share the thing we’ve been working on.
I often tell people that one of the most valuable skills I learned in art school was how to lie. Not for the sake of getting away with something self-serving but for the sake of allowing something new to come into being. Because the truth is, the creative work that will challenge and change current norms doesn’t exist yet. And I don’t know if I can successfully pull it off. But I can try because more than I want to be comfortable, I want change.
So, how do you use your creative work as a vehicle for rebellion?