Respect Authority? Not Me! (And It Helps My Career!)

By Chris Reed, Brand Catalyst & Writer One of my many flaws is that I have a tendency to react negatively to so-called authority…especially when that authority treads on my beliefs. Perhaps I should point out that, for me, authority doesn’t always manifest itself in the form of an actual person. In my mind, authority represents anything that seems to be bigger than me: the economy, searching for a job, or the myth that everyone in Kentucky has a country accent. At its heart, authority provides one of two things: 1. Submission. 2. Inspiration. The part about submission is a no-brainer. I’m more interested in the inspiration part of it. Being a Gen Xer that never quite grew out of his rebellious nature, I’ve recently become more aware of the appearance made by an Inspired Rebel anytime I get the impression I’m being told, “You can’t do that.” Really? Watch me. On the surface, the initial response is a bit childish (especially if accompanied by a tantrum) and it’s often perceived that way. In 2006, I decided to go back to school and finish my degree. I knew there was much work to be done, especially since I would be changing my major from what it had been 10 years earlier. I wanted to finish as quickly as possible and, from my calculations with the course catalog, I determined I could do it in 18 months. Please note that the course catalog does not account for red tape and small institutional thinkers. After jumping through hoops for two days, I finally managed to secure an appointment with an advisor. I told him what my plans were and how they were going to be accomplished. By the way, it was a completely reasonable plan. Advisor: “This isn’t possible.” Inspired Rebel: “Ummm, yes it is. It’s right there. On paper.” Advisor: “You don’t understand.” Inspired Rebel: “You’re right about that.” Advisor: “You’re being too ambitious.” Inspired Rebel: “You mean there are too many unnecessary administrative requirements that have absolutely nothing to do with the actual coursework.” Advisor: “It simply isn’t possible.” Inspired Rebel: (summoning the “I’ll show you” facial expression) Advisor: “You need…” Inspired Rebel: (don’t say what I think you’re going to say) Advisor: “to be…” Inspired Rebel: (he’s going to say it) Advisor: “patient.” I walked out of that office even more inspired and completed my degree in 18 months. You don't always have to respect authority, as long as you have a plan for what you want to do. Using authority for inspiration is a beautiful thing. And for my fellow Inspired Rebels out there, there has never been a more generous supply of authority…whether symbolic or tangible. Some of the greatest achievements in history have been inspired to reality because authority said they were impossible. We all have multiple sources of inspiration, and having awareness for those sources is incredibly important during times like these. Seek out those sources and use them. This is no time to be submissive. It’s time to be inspired. Y’all. Chris Reed is a Brand Catalyst and Writer for He can be contacted via Twitter via @c_reed.