Here’s To The Crazy Ones

Here's To The Crazy Ones

Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes…the ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things…they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world…are the ones who do. ~ Steve Jobs, 1997

It's about challenging the status quo.

This iconic Apple advert from 1997 is all about differentiating Apple from the competition and appealing to a growing client base who saw themselves as different and creative. The Apple brand has always punched incredibly high, even when they weren’t one of the richest companies on planet earth. When the iPad first came out people queued around the block of most Apple stores to buy one, even when they had little idea what it did. People didn’t need an iPad. They wanted one.

I reintroduced myself to this beautiful advert and added it at the start of a recent workshop I ran in Birmingham for a group of CEOs. The workshop was entitled ‘Leading People through Change.’ My Aha when revisiting the advert was that leaders set an example and encourage people to firstly think, secondly challenge the status quo and thirdly to be prepared to fail. All these points are integral to a successful business and their people. You cannot grow a business without growing its people, you cannot grow as a person without trying new things and failing at some of them. All sustainable growth therefore relies on moving outside of our comfort zones and trying something new.

As I know only too well, when I’ve stepped outside my comfort zone and tried something new in my life, I’ve set off a chain reaction. It’s the same whether it is a TEDx talk, writing a book or training for an Ironman 70.3. Growth leads to more growth. That’s why the world’s top performers, in whatever industry or sporting activity you choose, are so far ahead of the rest.

Of course, the theory can sound easy. It’s just a process, right?

So, why aren’t we all like this, with a growth mindset, taking on new challenges and conquering our worlds?

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Step 4

Step 5


Consider something new that will be challenging and relevant to my life goals.

Commit to it. Tell people.

Do it.

Learning and growth. Feel good - dopamine and serotonin released.

Desire to create another new challenge.


Energy, trepidation, excitement. Research required.

Planning, training, preparation, research, growth in know-how

Pushing new limits (psychological and physical). Fear, joy, praise, adrenalin.

The joy of achievement. New boundaries made. New highs now possible.

Anticipation of what the new challenge could be and what could be achieved next.

It's complicated.

It’s our upbringing. What we were told about our capabilities by our family and our school teachers. The role models we had growing up. How much money we had, what school we went to, the influence of our peers, introversion v extroversion. Our exposure to travel and different cultures. The list goes on.

We are all driven by a bunch of stories we tell ourselves (as Dr Pippa Grange tells us in the excellent book, Fear Less). These are not all ‘real.’ We have made them up over the course of our lives and they now influence how we show up and the decisions we make. I’ve had many of them: no good at maths, can’t do presentations, no good at writing, don’t know how to handle confrontation. These stories can hold us back significantly. Dr Grange gives us a simple process that helps us overcome these ‘fears,’ which I can attest to myself. Not that I knew her process until I read her book last year, but because I’ve overcome my own. First of all, we need to ‘see’ the fear or the problem and describe it e.g. in my case “I can’t do presentations.” This was the case in my 20’s. I literally hyperventilated, went blank and sat down when asked to present on one occasion. I am an introvert and had spent most of my life avoiding the spotlight. The second step is to ‘face it’ or understand how it is showing up in your life. In my case it was stopping my progression and pretty much any career I chose. Thirdly, overcome it. Here she provides five different ways to do this:

  1. Purpose. A strong sense of purpose in your life will give you the will to overcome almost anything
  2. Surrender. Here Pippa talks about having a lucky charm to see you through. Letting go and appealing to something bigger than ourselves. Lionel Messi, one of the greatest footballers the world has ever seen, ties a red ribbon around his left ankle given to him by a journalist for luck.
  3. Dreams and desires. These are so powerful. You want to achieve something significant in your life. Dreams come before plans. Desire can push us to overcome resistance and stumbling blocks.
  4. Real connection. Family, friends, peer groups, those we trust, who will support and challenge us in equal measure. I chair two leadership peer groups and the power of the group is extraordinary on each member. They become stronger and more confident as they see the respect others have for them and how others are growing around them. As Jim Rohn (entrepreneur, author, motivational speaker, and Tony Robbins’s mentor) said ‘we become the average of the five people we hang out with.’
  5. Laughter. Yes, we all know this one. When we fear doing something we often have that strange reaction of laughing about it. It can take away the seriousness of it and allow us to face it. What’s the worst that can happen, we sometimes say.

I truly believe that the most important job, and rewarding job of a leader, is to develop another leader. To do that, you have to be a great role model yourself and then support, coach, challenge, praise, and mentor someone else to achieve their dreams. To do that, they will have to step out of their comfort zone and stretch themselves. The virtuous circle starts, and they are on their way!

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