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The bad business

Photo by Bea Bautista | Collage by Camille Joy Galardo

Have you been getting in touch with your bad side?

Okay, not bad bad—the kind of bad that doesn’t mind breaking a few rules here and there if it leads to a better outcome. But the kind that actively works for what they want and takes initiative because they think—rather, they know—that they’re more than competent enough for the task. And no, they’re probably not going to end up listening to anyone.

The ordinary person would dub them as jerks (well, they’re kind of right) but underneath the cocky attitude and frequent disobedience lie their out-of-the-box way of thinking, and the undeniable ability to perform. Are you one of them? Probably not. Just close this page and live your thrill-less life, you shy, shy sheeple.

It’s swell to rebel

That was a bit much, but if you’re still reading this, then it means you’re a bit of a rebel too. It’s a start, but the real deal has much more to offer. In the article Using Rebel Talent to combat workplace conformity, rebelsare referred as people who “aren’t afraid of expressing their authentic selves, pushing against the status quo, and embracing multiple perspectives which ultimately benefits the organization.” They are believed to be more likely admired by their peers because apart from being genuine, they also tend to inspire creativity and innovation among others. Adding in a couple of other cool traits, this sums up just about everything you need to know about the “ideal” rebels.

But of course, there are those who chose the thug life, and the thug life ended up not choosing them. Lois Kelly and Carmen Medina, co-authors of Rebels at Work: A Handbook for Leading Change from Within made a chart in their book that separates the traits of good and bad rebels. The former are known to be optimistic, mission-focused, and passionate, which are all nice to see in someone who can be a little hard to handle. The latter? They’re usually pessimists, complainers, and always the first ones to start pointing fingers. Needless to say, they’re not exactly achievers.

These two kinds of troublemakers have the same label but differ in performance, reputation, and number of headaches given to other people. Word of advice: if you’re planning on being a major pain to everyone around you, you can make up for it by producing optimal results. Or maybe not, but what’s important is that you’re productive.

Too cool for school

Being a rebellious student can be very difficult, especially in DLSU-D where most people have cultivated a traditional culture of doing things. Fortunately, there are professors who are open-minded when dealing with students who think that the system can go screw itself.

In an interview with a professor from the Computer Sciences Department, Ma’am Annie (not her real name) talks about how defiancecan either be constructive or destructive depending on the person, and that those who have attained success by being defiant are comparatively few. Ma’am Annie once had a student, Bob (again, not his real name), who would go to class with just a pen, pester his classmates for yellow paper, but could still manage to get the highest grades among his peers. Although it probably helped that Bob has a photographic memory where jotting down lectures isn’t really needed for a student who can memorize notes at a glance, not everyone is born with such a life hack. There are those who don’t really excel much academically but still have the gall to ignore instructions at every turn. “Pasang-awa” is what Ma’am Annie calls them and unfortunately, they outnumber the achievers by a considerable margin.

Bearing these facts in mind, you can be a builder like Bob or a slob whose name nobody even remembers. This article simply encourages you how to be like Bob—the ideal for any aspiring rebel with the reluctance to agree but with the willingness to adapt.

Defiance for dummies

When asked if Ma’am Annie would recommend defiant behavior for students, she suggests that they should act based on their learning style. If your preferred methods are different from the professor’s, then a little defiance is considered A-OK. “Kasi positive defiance ‘yon,” she says. “Parang ayaw mo sundin ‘yong solution—kung paano nag-compute [ng problem]‘yong teacher mo pero at least gumawa ka ng paraan para mas maintindihan mo.” Rejoice, all ye troublemakers; someone actually understands.

If you’re still confused as to what being effectively defiant actually means, Foghound’s book Rebels at Work: Motivated to Make a Difference lists the traits that a rebel ought to have. They are said to have willingness to “call out problems others [are] afraid of and drive to “challenge ineffective sacred cow practices” or questioning pointless endeavors maintained by tradition, no offense to the cow. The list goes on, mentioning initiative and the ability to think outside the box. You ought to take note of this, but rebels don’t take notes, so maybe just keep it in mind.

Defiance isn’t meant to be spontaneous: it requires careful and thorough thinking prior to action. So before you tear that cedula, it’s better to first explore your options and make sure that you’re on the right track.

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There are only two endgames waiting for a rebel: a) you instigate change and reap success in return or b) you refuse to cooperate and become a liability. Go big or go home; double or nothing; be a Bob or a slob. Where you’ll end up depends on your attitude, wits, and judgement.

If you want play it safe, then cool. You can close this paper, forget you ever read this, and move on with your life. But if there’s even a slight chance that you want to take the risk, then get in touch with your bad side—just make sure you know when to unleash it.

This article was originally published in The HERALDO FILIPINO broadsheet, Volume 32, Issue 3.