I am a particular flavor of bold personality, the type that is not well-liked in some environments. Take, for example, a well-established hierarchical-based company that relies on its employees not seeing, the whole picture in order to remain in their jobs. Indeed, I am not very well-liked there because I am a Disruptor. I speak the truth no one else there dares to speak due to its disruptive nature. I can’t help it. That’s what I do. Even my mom tells me this frequently, although when she does it comes with negative connotations.
“Danielle, you’re disruptive. It’s like you want to just stick out! You just need to learn to follow the rules!” It’s true, Mom. I do not blend well.
Now, most people besides my mom would try to disagree with me, especially those working for corporations: “No, no, we like you. We value honesty and authenticity. We would never want to be lied to, and we’d hate for you to feel silenced! We appreciate when you are open and honest in your feedback. We have an open door policy, of course.”
They’d immediately jump to disagreeing with me because, of course, no one wants to openly admit that dishonesty is a friend of theirs. They don’t want to admit that they allow others to lie to them daily—and that they don’t even question it. They certainly don’t want to admit that they USE dishonesty to get ahead in life. God forbid!
The truth: It’s easy to live a lie if you are also lying to yourself about the lies.
Does that make your head spin?
In a certain type of corporate environment, the disruption to that house of cards built on a foundation of lies comes in the form of someone like me, someone who calls the truth out when she sees it. Someone who boldly declares the scary truth despite the fact that it appears to be more harmful than good (appears is the key word here). Someone who is a Disruptor of the current reality.
Let me illustrate my point for you.
Imagine that you are sitting on a railroad track. Of course, that would never last very long because you, a logical being, can see that you are on the track and the inherent danger is obvious to you: staying there will surely lead to death as you’ll eventually get hit by the next train that rolls through.
But now imagine that a nice man—someone you trust who is highly respected, successful, and well liked by the masses—has hired you to work at his company. Your job is to sit all day in an undisclosed location. If you do, he’ll pay you handsomely—benefits, paid time off, sick days, the whole nine. So he blindfolds you and sits you on the railroad track. You, of course, do not know where you are, but even if you had an inkling, you are able to easily swat it away with rational thoughts like “I’m getting paid just to sit here, I can do this all day!”
But then… here I come, walking by with my loud, disruptive boots on and say to you, “Hey, you’re sitting on a railroad track. You could be hit by a train.” And I keep walking.
Immediately your survival instincts kick in. People in this situation will react one of two ways:
1. The first type of reaction (the most common in a hierarchy situation) is where the truth-teller is criminalized. “Oh, she is just selfish, she just wants attention. She’s jealous because I have this great job and she doesn’t.” Whatever fancy web of lies needs to be spun to attack that piece of truth that found its way into the atmosphere, it will be spun. The brain will take out its best weapons—fear, reason, logic—and beat that truth down until it’s barely a whisper. Ha, take that, pesky truth!!
2. The second reaction is the most unnerving of the two; it leads the way down the unbeaten path of the unknown. Option two is to hear the truth openly and objectively and to analyze it for its truthiness.
Humans have been conditioned to be doubters and non-believers—we’ve been conditioned to only accept truths that fit the current reality we are living in. If a truth comes our way that does not fit, it must either be rejected (the first option) or validated if it has a chance of survival. It’s very easy to take out the fly swatter and bat away all the disruptive truths that threaten our reality.
Going back to the railroad tracks, if you choose to follow the second option and not immediately kill the truth, you might start by feeling around your surrounding environment (remember, you are blindfolded). You can kind of tell that what you are sitting on feels like a hard, cold, metal railroad track.
With that action, you have started validating the truth—and with action, it grows stronger. It grows bigger. You can no longer ignore it. You must take more action!
These two paths are essentially opposites: two people walking in opposite directions. One towards blissful ignorance and one towards the sometimes ugly reality. It is the manifestation of inaction versus action.
Faced with the hard truth—especially a truth that is life altering—we can act on it, or we can avoid it by beating it out of existence (because that’s possible, right?).
Acting on truth requires courage. It is not for the weak or timid. Hence why it’s the least chosen path, and why you see many numbed people working for many years in large companies. They have chosen to kill the truth and have taken the path of inaction (which really isn’t taking a path at all).
I don’t mean to make it sound like working for a large company is bad or wrong or will make you miserable (or that all large companies are like this). If it’s what you choose to do with your eyes wide open, then you retain the power of action. You do not need a truth-teller like me to come stomping by you on the railroad tracks pointing out your impending doom.
The choice here is yours: inaction (keep the status quo) or action (step into the unknown).
I’ve been led to where I am today because I know the truth. MY truth. I know that working in a particular environment did not allow me to live up to my potential, aligned with my truth. I could see that many people struggled with this too, certainly many more than those who decided to blaze their own trail alongside and together with the hard truths that we all face as humans.
Because the truth is that unless or until something disrupts our current reality, we may never see the truth for what it is. We may never know what exists for us out there on that unblazed trail.
So, I continue to be disruptive, much to my mother’s chagrin. I may never be well liked by the herds, but I am well loved by myself for discovering and embracing the truth about truth and spending each day I have on this planet dedicated to blazing my own trail towards my own truth, despite the naysayers and negative connoters.
After all, as Henry Rollins would say, “My optimism wears heavy boots and is loud.” And I just haven’t yet discovered how to turn my volume down.
Contributor Danielle Anderson, owner of inkpaperpublish.com