Saturday, 14 July 2012

Rebel, Playboy, Activist

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” ― George Bernard Shaw 

A maverick is someone who thinks independently, going against orthodoxy and routinely dissenting with popular views. The origins of this word are actually quite fascinating, as indeed are the roots of many words which come from the American West.

In the mid-1800s, a gentleman by the name of Samuel Augustus Maverick settled in Texas with the goal of becoming a cattle rancher. By tradition, ranchers branded their cattle with various markings to make them easy to identify, but Maverick refused to do so. Some people have suggested that he was simply lazy,  but popular belief suggests that it was a clever move by Maverick who knew that, by convention, unbranded cattle belonged to whoever managed to claim them first. Using his out of box thinking, he ensured that any unbranded cattle were regarded as his, since he was the only rancher not to use brands, and in 1867, ranchers started calling unbranded cattle “mavericks.”

It was a brilliant move. Fencing was not widely used in the American West during this period, which meant that cattle roamed freely, often having calves far from the homestead. By claiming all unbranded cattle as his own, Maverick undoubtedly acquired a few cows which actually belonged to other people.

The origins of the word would suggest that it is a reflection of Maverick's behaviour which was indicative of someone willing to bend the rules to gain success. Later the term became widely used to describe rabble rousers, thieves and outlaws who were quite likely to brag loudly about their escapades. So the term has not always been deemed a positive one.

For me mavericks are free-thinkers and yes, we do need them more than ever. They are less likely to be swayed by popular opinion nor will they do things to seek approval from those around them. They see a problem and find the most practical and effective solution to that problem even though that problem may not be commonly visible. Innovative and inventive, you will almost certainly not be able to second guess their actions. They have their own agenda and are often unwilling to tell you about it unless it suits their purposes.

They are capable of utilising another's belief system consciously to achieve certain aims without being a part of the throngs that idolise a particular way of thinking - although they can play the part if necessary. If they feel that the crowd needs turning - then they can use their position in the crowd to influence change. You may or may not see them in action or realise who and what they are - they could look just like you or me. They do not seek to get approval or public recognition for what they do as the attention in itself is a distraction from their main purpose. Being ego-less is a virtue that many of us strive to experience as that ensures that we can do things for the right reasons.

Mavericks are not afraid to be alone, to think alone, and work alone. They will be willing to use the back door, jump the queue, not apply for jobs when applying for jobs, or do conventional deals which follow a set formula or format. The box does not exist so thinking outside of the box will never happen. Rules are to be tried, tested, bent, broken and re-written. They will go where they want, do what they want and wear what they want and invariably they will not mind being unconventional.

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and  I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference" Robert Frost

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