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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

How to Be a Maverick and Develop a Maverick Mindset

How to Be a Maverick and Develop a Maverick Mindset

Are you an innovator? Do you have revolutionary and radical ways of thinking? Do you have zero tolerance for ignorant people? If you answered yes to these three questions then you are most likely a Maverick.

Mavericks are essential to top performing organizations. They think differently, act differently, and often times piss people off. Think of some of the most successful people in the world, they are typically Mavericks. Think Richard Branson, Elon Musk, and Steve Jobs. However, we will look at three people you might not have thought about when you think of Mavericks. These three completely buck the status quo and disregard traditional ways of thinking.

Video Summary

So, let’s take a look at what a Maverick is, how you can embrace a Maverick mindset, and why you should protect the Mavericks in your organization.

Do What You Can’t!

    “The haters, the doubters are all drinking champagne on the top deck of the Titanic and we are the f***ing Iceberg” – Casey Neistat

    If you have ever been told you can’t do something, then you must do that thing. Casey Neistat is a fascinating person with a strong message. There is no question Neistat possesses a Maverick mindset.

    “Keep your head down, follow the rules, do as you’re told, play it safe, wait your turn, ask permission, learn to compromise… This is Terrible Advice!” [1]

    Neistat suggests we should do what we can’t. A simple rule here is to pay attention to people when they tell you that you can’t do something. The rule… do that thing.

    Mavericks do not play well with others, yet this is not a bad thing. Why should we play well with others? Should you compromise with a person who seeks to hold you back, NO!

    Neistat provides the perfect analogy for Maverick thinking in a short video. Here is a brief description of the video:

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    • Life is like going the wrong way on a moving sidewalk.
    • Walk and you stay put.
    • Stand still and you go backwards.
    • To get ahead… you have to hustle!

    Got Beat? Good!

      “You want to improve your mental toughness? Try this: Be Tougher.” – Jocko Willink

      Former Navy Seal and author of Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win is the perfect example of a Maverick. John Eagan nicely sums up an interview between Jocko and Echo Charles during a Q&A in 2015. [2]

      Echo Charles: “How do you deal with setbacks, failures, delays, defeats, or other disasters?”
      Jocko: “Good.”

      What a perfect response! Let’s take a deeper look at what Jocko meant by his simple response—Good.

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      Oh, the mission got cancelled? Good. We can focus on the other one.
      Didn’t get promoted? Good. More time to get better.
      Didn’t get funded? Good. We own more of the company.
      Didn’t get the job you wanted? Good. You can get more experience and build a better resume.
      Got injured? Good. Needed a break from training.
      Got tapped out? Good. It’s better to tap out in training, then tap out on the street.
      Got beat? Good. You learned.
      Unexpected problems? Good. We have the opportunity to figure out a solution.

      “When things are going bad, there’s going to be some good that is going to come from it.”

      Protect Your Mavericks

        “What keeps you awake at night? Nothing… I keep other people awake at night.” – James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, 26th United States Secretary of Defense

        As I mentioned before, Mavericks typically do not play well with others. They create conflict and generally make people feel uncomfortable. Yet, they play a critical role to success in an organization and senior leaders must protect them. [3] Bob and Gregg Vanourek provide the following advice,

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        “Mavericks are essential to innovation. Senior executives play a critical role: leaders must protect the Mavericks in their organizations. They must step up and give Mavericks space to operate, providing organizational cover for Mavericks to work their magic and keep the flame of innovation alight.”

        United States Secretary of Defense James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis is a believer in this credo and is a Maverick himself. Look no further than the following three powerful quotes from the Mad Dog.

        1. “There are hunters and there are victims. By your discipline, cunning, obedience and alertness, you will decide if you are a hunter or a victim.”
        2. “You cannot allow any of your people to avoid the brutal facts. If they start living in a dream world, it’s going to be bad.”
        3. “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”

        Carnivores Eat Herbivores

        So, how can you adopt a Maverick mindset? It’s actually pretty simple. Become a Carnivore. Let’s end with these five simple tips to becoming a Maverick.

        1. Do what you can’t. If someone says you can’t do something, do that exact thing.
        2. Be tougher. If you get beat or fail at something, remember Jocko’s advice. Good.
        3. Become a hunter. Confront the brutal facts of the world and decide to be a hunter.
        4. Don’t be afraid to give people a piece of your mind. Don’t allow yourself or others to be bullied, in essence, bully the bully!
        5. Use sage advice from Cornell Professor and author of Systems Thinking Made Simple: New Hope for Solving Wicked Problems Derek Cabrera and ask, “What pisses you off the most?” Your answer will be what you are most passionate about, go after it!

        Finally, remember there is no easy path to success. To become a Maverick, you have to work hard. There is no magic formula or magic pill. People are not born to be a Maverick, they must embrace it and work for it.

        “There’s no talent here, this is hard work. This is an obsession. Talent does not exist. We are all equals as human beings. You could be anyone if you put in the time. You will reach the top, and that’s that. I am not talented. I am obsessed.” – Conor McGregor

        Reference

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        Last Updated on July 17, 2019

        The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

        The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

        What happens in our heads when we set goals?

        Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

        Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

        According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

        Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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        Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

        Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

        The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

        Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

        So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

        Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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        One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

        Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

        Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

        The Neurology of Ownership

        Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

        In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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        But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

        This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

        Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

        The Upshot for Goal-Setters

        So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

        On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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        It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

        On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

        But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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        Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

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