Proud to be a troublemaker.
When your signature is part of the job, it is precisely how you must be.
A society that gets rid of all its troublemakers goes downhill.
(Robert A. Heinlein)
We have inherited a saying around these places, a legacy from our communists leaders and an actual practice of many decision makers from many places today:
If you hear something, don’t say it.
If you say it, don’t write it down.
If you write it down, don’t sign it.
If you sign it, then don’t wonder.
I felt to the bone the power of signature, papers and words.
A piece of paper becomes a living creature once you put your mark on it, it turns into a creature with powers of its own. Once you sign it, you become the owner of everything that comes with it during both peace or crisis. During peace the words may work for you, during crisis the words may easily turn against you.
If I learned something really valuable during my over 13 years of entrepreneurship and decision-making life, that is the power of written words.
It is absolutely fascinating to witness how the entire work and life of someone may ultimately hang on of one word.
My decision-making life tought me to not let anything at the hands of a judge or some boss or decision maker above me on the hierarchy, to not let my life in the hands of no one, no matter how good experts they are and no matter what hat they wear in the organization.
As long as the job requires my signature, I am part of the responsibility and I won’t sign anything by default, if it holds unanswered risks or unclear words.
In the eyes of many that is, more often that not, a troublemaker.
Most of those I met expected me to close my eyes when signing various papers they put on my desk. They felt deeply bothered and troubled when I began asking questions and clarifications. Some even crossed the lines by insulting or threatening me, trying by that to intimidate me and to get that signature from me. It never worked and it will never will.
In the eyes of such decision makers, a troublemaker is someone they take very personally. They place their inflated egos before the good of the organization and its people. You instantly become a threat. And that is because they don’t want someone who can make things better, but someone who is weak enough to confirm a dysfunctional system as long as it serves one or more particular interests. For this reason, you see and clash with a lot of idiots in key positions, because that is why they are hired for, to blindly take responsibility for the shit their bosses perpetuate. The power illusion they get in return is a good price for these folks.
Because these types of leaders are profoundly insecure people, they doubt themselves. By doubting themselves at such a profound level, they automatically doubt anyone who do not obey by default, who do not follow rules even when the rules are ill-defined, unclear or incomplete. Their values are confused and confusion is the name of their culture.
When the job involves your signature, it is your number 1 obligation to make sure you sign a legal, responsable and good enough document, not one that solves a leader’s interests at the costs of the organizations and its people interests, things you are also responsible for and legally bound to.
This means that sometimes you have to meet your leaders and to push for better balanced views, strategies and tactics.
As a decision maker, pushing comes with the job.
The worst kinds of bosses will see you as a troublemaker. The most inspiring ones will see you as their partner in crime in challenging times, they will see you as their competitive advantage. The first will do everything to get rid of you. The second will do everything to have you and keep you in. For one you are a deadly disease and a nightmare, for the other you are a cure and a beautiful dream coming true.
If the job wants your signature and you say “Yes” to the challenge, then being a “troublemaker” is part of the job. The words you sign for are what will make you or break you in difficult times. Poor words often turn good times into crisis faster.
As a decision maker, You does never mean just you, it involves all the people who depend on your judgement and actions, and all the people who depend on those people, and so on.
Your legacy can be a ray of light and hope or a black hole and despair.