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The weirdos make change happen.

Historically, the weirdos make systemic change happen.

Le duh: generally, the people inside a system are the ones enjoying all of the upsides of it. Why would I topple my awesome sand castle? It is awesome!

(And sure, there do exist rare souls who benefit from the status quo and are willing to give up some sweet-ass advantages because it’s the right thing to do. They are maybe 0.04% of any system’s membership, she says cynically but with a lot of historical precedent.)

But the not-quites, the outcasts, the weirdos and the misfits…

They aren’t in love with the status quo – it gives them much less, less often, and generally with a brightly patronising smile. They stand to benefit from changes to the system – it can’t be worse than what they have now. And, as anyone who has read a musician’s biography knows, the weirdos have fewer distractions. They’re in their bedroom instead of at the rave/beach party/doof/whatever-the-kids-call-it-nowadays-I-am-old-and-cheerfully-uncool. And they spend that extra time, often, getting very very good at what they do.

Insiders protect the status quo, outsiders change the status quo.

So, I have advice.

Give It Up

You are an insider. Even if it’s as small as having better parking options because you moved in before the zoning laws changed, there are places where the system favours you. And if a new tenant wants to swap car spaces because she has knee problems, your crocodile will get all, “NOPE MINE MY THINGS ARE MINE AND ALSO NOT YOURS MINE MINE.” Understandably, over the generations nature has selected pretty strongly for some kinds of selfishness.

Biological determinism can get fucked.

Stepdads aren’t allowed to kill their new stepkids even though they are competition for the same resources as their biological ones. Lions do it, and plenty of other animals, but “Your Honour, it’s a common mammal behaviour” still doesn’t get the charges dropped.

Learn to let go of advantages, especially when they are unfair. Learn to take a detached, impersonal view of any of the systems you are inside if they are making life shittier for anyone else. Argue vociferously with other insiders. Publish insider info. Get that crowbar. Smash the state.

This applies to your life and your business equally, as I am sure you had guessed. Extra, please teach your kids and also every person you meet ever.

Do Not Dismiss The Weirdos

It’s easy to, ‘cos they’re so… weird! My weirdo is not your weirdo is most assuredly not my cousin’s weirdo, but we all have one.

And we reeeeeeeealllly want to ignore them. We let the label-pinners write off the misfits and sweep them into the dust-bin of blahblah, and then we are shocked, utterly shocked, when they come out of nowhere (nowhere we were looking, anyway) and BAM they revolutionise. Which includes launching a new product or service, a new business model, a new marketing strategy… not just kinda new, but ground-breaking. And there you are, standing on the broken ground, wondering what the fiddly fuck just happened.

Go read How The Mighty Fall, Jim Collins’ dissection of the failure of big businesses, to see it play out over and over. Ignore the weirdos, and you just give them less distractions to worry about, and thus more time to (unintentionally, usually) pull your underpants over your head.

Embrace Your Weirdo

It sucks to be an outsider. It hurts. But it is also liberating.

You can see clearer from out here, darling. Spend your energy writing killer riffs or creating the next piece or serving all the other weirdos, ‘cos we sure don’t get enough love out here.

And then, as needed, pick up that motherfucking crowbar.

I love you, brave soul.

Catherine