An Apologetic Digital Marketer

Every few months, I watch this talk that Seth Godin gave to a group of students and teachers at the Brooklyn Free School.

I watch it because this video terrifies me.  It terrifies me because I was a good student.  I was a good high school student and I was a great college student.  I have the plaques, test scores, and accolades to support that claim.  And although I was once proud of those accomplishments, I now look at them differently.

I completed my Masters and entered the real world 12.5 years ago.

At first, I was a wonderful employee.  As Godin accurately points out, school successfully groomed me to be compliant.  And bosses love compliant team members.  

Slowly but surely I noticed, where the rubber meets the road, compliance does not cut it.  People doing admirable things weren't asking for permission.  More so, they often did admirable things while defying someones direction to stop.  I saw opportunities to do interesting work and to solve challenging problems, but I didn't have the stones to act.  I couldn't find someone to tell me it was okay.

It took me about ten years to (mostly) work that compliance out of my system.  But it is not gone - it is still there.  It is just dormant.  And it requires a lot of work to keep it that way.  With 17+ years of schooling under my belt, there is a lot to unlearn.

If you are like me and you find yourself stuck, here are some questions to ask:

  • Whose permission am I looking for?  
  • Does that person actually exist?  
  • If so, what gives them the power to grant permission?
  • What happens if I move forward without their approval?
  • What is the cost of non compliance?