Unordinary Thinking No. 20 – How to kick the compromise habit

We celebrate the unordinary at Lexden. And most of our series has been about brands which are or have achieved greatness through unordinary practice. But unordinary extends to people too. These figures of inspiration who take a different path we call The Unordinaires. This blog highlights three such stars.

If there is something I admire in a person it is when they are true to their inner brand. What do I mean by this? Well most of us will compromise the way we want to do things in life due to one circumstance or another. We will find a reason to explain why we couldn’t do it our way, or how the ‘system’ prevented it from happening as we planned. But I don’t think that has to be the case.

If your thinking, personality, decision making and actions are aligned to your inner brand, then there is no reason why you can’t still achieve what you want on your terms. And for that you need to start with one believer (you) and when you achieve, you will notice an army inspired by you too. It is these ‘true to their inner brand’ characters in life that you don’t see too often. But when you come across them they should be celebrated for they are the true pioneers. Of course Steve Jobs takes his place at the top table of the Unordinaires but here are three other candidates to sit alongside him (four if you look closely).

#1 Bubba Watson

I’m not a big follower of golf on TV, but I’ve been captured by Bubba’s story. He has recently won the US Masters at Augusta and is ranked 4th in the world. But when asked, he describes himself as “a Christian,  a husband, a daddy, a pro golfer and an owner of General Lee 1. My style is #awesome” – in that order (at least he does on Twitter). In the world of golf, convention would say learn the game from lessons from professionals in clubs. Be taught by the best. However, Bubba has never had a lesson in his life (apart from one with his Dad). And where safety shots in a competition out of the rough can tactically turn a game, Bubba says, “If I have a shot, I have a chance” – as his shot from the rough on the 17th at the Masters showed. He has an unorthodox swing and he owns a General Lee. His website states, “I didn’t get this far in my dreams”. If Bubba had trained his game through lessons, or been more fixated on golf than his family would he be this successful or this happy? He stuck to his inner brand, did it his way and still reached the top.

# Kyle MacDonald

It was probably Malcolm Gladwell who introduced me to Kyle’s work. This is a visionary who traded up a red paper clip to a house. Inspired by the ease of playground trades and finding his other ideas weren’t generating revenue for him and his girlfriend, Kyle set up a barter site and asked if anyone would swap anything for a red paper clip. Two girls thought it was fun and swapped a fish pen. He exchanged this onwards and upwards including old lawnmowers, concert tickets, a motorbike and eventually a house.

He kept to his plan, he believed someone would have more need for what he had to trade than he did, and that would be rewarded with something of greater value than he traded. It worked. It’s an unordinary life plan and maybe one too risky for most of us. But it is now marketing folklore and a great demonstration of the power of perseverance.

#3 Lionel Logue

I watched The Kings’s Speech last week. Although I know the story quite well, the film helped to crystalise something I had overlooked about the brash and bolshie Australian, Lionel Logue. And that was his commitment to his inner brand. He, without qualification, rose to Commander of the Guard under George VI. As an unqualified speech therapist, his experience from helping WWI soldiers gave him confidence and passion to help others. But what came with Lionel was a fierce ‘on my terms’ conditioning which was not compromised even when invited to assist the King of England. The result was an inspiring speech from a King, comforting the nation at a most fragile moment under the cloud of WWII commencing.

Lionel flew in the face of tradition and centuries of familiarity to achieve the task he was set. And never (according to the historians), wavered from his view of what would work.

These three characters all share that same accolade of achievement without compromise. They had no Sherpa to guide them, just an instinctive moral compass.

Too often, we default to the conventional path, or as Stewart Lee brilliantly portrayed it in his latest stand up tour, we get by in Carpet Remnant World. A tale of compromise which will have you striving to achieve more on your terms should you be brave enough to see the show. If you haven’t seen Stewart Lee before; don’t go please. By his request.

There are many more idols and figures of inspiration out there. Follow them. Learn from them. Watch them make it up as they go along. See them take uncalculated risks. Finally applaud them when they successfully arrive at their destination with their integrity intact.

Find your inner brand. Find your purpose. Find your path. Stick to it.

Posted by Christopher Brooks

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions to motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands. 

For more information on how we can help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or ajairanawat@lexdengroup.com, or call us on T: +44 (0)20 7490 9123.  And you can follow us on Twitter @consultingchris.

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