If there was an award for the most detentions attained during an elementary school career, my brother Ben would have won it.
Ben had a judicious approach to rules. If a rule didn’t make sense to him, or didn’t seem just, he didn’t bother to abide by it. While that trait got him in a lot of trouble growing up, this is the trait I admire and respect most in my brother.
This trait causes Ben to speak up when he doesn’t agree with something, consequences be damned. It’s this trait that makes him jump into action, instead of waiting on the sidelines for “someone else to do something”.
It’s this trait that keeps him out of analysis paralysis and the inevitable inaction it breeds. Not wasting time fretting over whether his actions will make a difference, and instead jumping into the arena to find out.
The world needs more defiant rule-breakers like Ben.
→ People who are not willing to accept the broken status quo, just because someone told them to accept it.
→ People who are not willing to shirk accountability for the way things are, even though they didn’t create the system.
These are the people that show others there’s another way to behave, and through their actions they make us all realize that inaction is a choice that supports the way things are. It’s this very awareness that ultimately requires each of us to dig deeper and ask ourselves if compliance is the vote we want to be making.
Are you unhappy that your office is still running on electricity generated by fossil fuels? You could draft a petition to change electric companies and urge your colleagues to sign it.
Don’t like how every new hire seems to resemble the last new hire? You could schedule a meeting with HR to discuss how diversity in the workplace contributes to innovation and higher performance across the board.
Want to volunteer with a local organization but can’t seem to find the time? Why not talk to your boss about leaving work early once a week to go and help those in need?
No, you didn’t create any of these problems or situations. But yes, you can still be part of the solution.
The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.
Ben married the perfect partner in Jami, who is also guided by an internal compass of compassion, fairness, and action. They are the kind of people who always do good behind the scenes. They don’t shout it from the rooftops in hopes of getting credit. They do generous acts because they can and they feel it’s the right thing to do.
Their most recent act was sponsoring a refugee family to come to the USA and live with them.
This is just their latest act, in decades of stepping up to lend a helping hand.
I wanted to tell you about Ben for two reasons:
1) Please don’t train the rule-breaker trait out of your children (or out of yourself!). These free-willed, defiant rebels might just show us all a better way to be one day.
2) I believe in the power of action to inspire action. The next time you see a place where you can lend a helping hand, don’t wait for an invitation. Generosity is an act of vulnerability when you don’t know how the invitation will be received. But like any muscle, the more you use it, the easier it gets.
P.S. As the children of a refugee, helping displaced peoples is important to both Ben and me. If you are a hiring manager, consider partnering with a staffing agency that specializes in placing refugees and migrants. To learn more, you can listen to my Purpose and Profit episode with Chris Chancey of Amplio Recruiting.