A Maverick

I hate it when people start off giving me a definition.  However, to convey my thoughts I’m going to give you a definition. (Boo, hiss!)  The definition of a maverick is a person that takes chances, one who departs from the accepted normal course.

Garth Brooks sang it well!  (Nathan Fillion’s butt! tee hee!) James Garner portrayed it, as did Mel Gibson.  Someone who goes against the grain, takes the road less traveled, a free-thinker.

Some refer to us as: bohemian, dissenters, extremists, nonconformists, radical, rebels, revolutionaries, and entrepreneurs.  We pave our own way, make our own paths. We stretch the rules, bend them to our whims, we color outside the lines.  We are often perceived as a threat to those who are happy with status quo. Status Quo blows!

Traditionalists don’t like mavericks. We disrupt their universe.  They build their little box and we mess it up. They tidy it up, we rearrange their furniture. We are the free radicals of society.  Most of society likes to be told what to do when to do it and how often to do it.  Whatever the “it” may be, workers are expected to do and not think.  Thinking has been discouraged in our society.

NO! I’m serious it has.  From a minimum wage job of flipping burgers, to the factory worker on an assembly line to the lab technician that has a set routine, a formula that they follow.  The mindless dance steps of their daily job require little brain power.  The general masses fit into this group.  I’m not knocking it, or criticizing anyone who is content with a set routine.  Some people thrive on normalcy, and routine.  Every one of them mindless job zombies, not to be confused with Rob Zombie.

A maverick however dies a slow tortuous death in such an environment.  Writing a technical manual for the targeting division of the defense department was dull and tedious.  I found the addition of a tense relationship between two of my soldiers and their object of their affection, a female officer, added a certain dramatic element.  The love triangle added a dimension to the manual unprecedented. Apparently I was the only one that the dullness of the government document bothered.  I was told to remove it, and was sent to a procedures class, followed by a sensitivity course.  DARN!

I worked in an environment with engineers, scientists, geodesists, and other cartographers.  They follow the dance steps; it’s just a different dance than the factory workers at an auto plant.  I don’t line dance; you know that country thing they do?  Everyone does the same steps at the same time on the same beat.  The Cupid Shuffle is OK at a wedding. The Electric Slide is a mandatory tradition. Beyond that I’m an eighties gal and I dance freestyle.

The masterful choreography of daily routine across the globe makes the cogs work.  I get that.  But, it’s the free thinkers that come up with ingenious and witty inventions.  Writing is one outlet for my creativity.  I have others as well.  My plan is to have multiple streams of income, not one linear model of time exchanged for money.

Creative’s look at the world differently.  They aren’t rose colored glasses, that’s a term deigned from the traditionalists we irritate. I have gold-rimmed glasses with a leopard print inside the frames, little bling blings on the side, and transition lenses that turn black as I step outside.  Yeah, that’s right I’m bad! They rock!  They ought to, I paid a small fortune for them.  Glasses or contacts help correct your vision.  The creative’s lenses gives crystal clear clarity that the general population never sees.

Think in terms of pearls:  A grain of sand is an irritant to the oyster.  It secretes a substance to get rid of the irritant.  Years go by while the secretion continues, making the irritant larger and larger inside the oyster.  Then one day some one or some thing cracks open the oyster and eats it.  A beautiful pearl has formed.  Yeah, I may be an irritant now, but by darn one day I’m going to be a pearl of great value!

The life of a maverick is risky.  The pay is inconsistent, and there are no benefits in the beginning.  It’s appealing to many to get the 9 to 5 job that offers the company car and the health care package.  The safe path isn’t as secure as it once was.  The days of retiring from a company with the gold watch are behind us.  Company loyalty means nothing – it’s not personal, it’s just business.  There are no guarantees.

It’s not called starving artists for nothing!  It’s often feast or famine. In addition, the critics come out of the woodwork because we are going against the grain. They criticize because we don’t play by their rules.  They are afraid to step outside the box, while a maverick fears the confinement of the box. Cut them some slack, they just don’t get us!

I got the mental picture many years ago, of the scene from Metropolis by Fritz Lang, from 1927, where the men lumbered en masse into the factory.  This is the status quo.  It’s a mind-numbing, dream killing, monotonous grind.  There is more to life than existing.

Dan Miller sums it up like this: “We can transform our work by seeing it as the primary application of our purpose rather than a necessary and practical evil.”  By changing the perspective of how we view work, a J-O-B becomes a meaningful expression of who we are.

It’s not a life for everyone; it takes a certain bent to be an entrepreneur.  Writing is one expression of entrepreneurship.  Eventually entrepreneurs’ can hit it big.  I’m one witty invention, one creative idea away from financial success.  In the meantime, I have bills to pay and work the J-O-B while I pursue my dreams of publication like a second job.  Traditionalists think I don’t work, but I work a traditional job, am a mother (translate: chauffeur, maid, housekeeper, laundress, teacher, warden, chef, etc), and I am a writer.  Trust me, the traditional job takes the least brain power, or effort.

Perspective is the difference from feeling downtrodden and the uplifting of spirits.  It helps us re-order our priorities, and unravel our own destinies.  Opportunities abound all around us, it’s the free thinkers that can see them and make something of them.

Are you where you thought you’d be at this stage of your life? Are you suffering death by a thousand cuts in a status quo job?  Are you content with the status quo or do feel the need to paddle upstream?  Do you have a sense of accomplishment or a sense of purpose in your life?  If you want different results, say five years from now, what are you willing to change to obtain the results you want?

If you can’t be happy with what you’re doing, maybe you should be doing something else.  Life is too short to waste it being unfulfilled and merely existing. Whatever your dreams are – go for it!

Write on my friends, write on!