Working productively with our rebellious instincts
Australians are ratbags.
That’s one of the things we love about being Australian. We’re proud to be ratbags. Ned Kelly was a ratbag with a gun.
And so it’s this ratbag streak that makes the OBike fiasco in Melbourne seem so predictable. From the Herald Sun:
For a city that has embraced deconstructed avocado smash, food trucks for dogs and every other wanky inner-city trend, Melbourne sure is narrow-minded when it comes to oBikes.
The controversial bicycle-sharing service hoped to encourage more people within Melbourne and Sydney to choose riding over public transport or driving.
Only oBike wasn’t able to gain traction with Melburnians… As the service requires no physical docking stations, the bicycles can be left anywhere not posing a risk to public safety.
Sadly, this meant people started to leave the rental bikes at the bottom of lakes, on bus stops and pretty much everywhere else you would leave them if you were a delinquent.
So they handed out free bikes. Some Aussie larrikins decided it’d be funny to stick them up a tree…
Who could have seen that coming?
I mean, it’s not like we’re China, right?
Oh hang on. Turns out its happening in China too:
In China, where there are some 16 million shared bikes on the street and MoBike alone now has over a million, the authorities have been forced to clear up ziggurats of discarded bikes. Residents of Hangzhou became so irritated by bikes lazily dumped by riders, and reportedly sabotaged by angry cab drivers, that the authorities were forced to round up 23,000 bikes and dump them in 16 corrals around the city.
“There’s no sense of decency any more,” one Beijing resident recently told the New York Times after finding a bike ditched in a bush outside his home. “We treat each other like enemies.”
So… what? The Chinese are larrikins too? You mean we’re not culturally unique?
I don’t think this is what’s going on here. I think this is a text book lesson in POWER.
Rebellious behaviour often goes hand in hand with powerlessness. It’s not supreme court judges out there vandalising railway tunnels. It’s typically young people from disadvantaged backgrounds (…and frustrated arts graduates experiencing their own form of powerlessness.)
Even self-destructive behaviour is often just a giant F-you to the powers of the world – the powers that tell you you should look after yourself and your kidneys, and stay alive.
And that’s where the Aussie larrikin streak was born. As a penal colony, we were born into and out of massive power imbalances, and we inherited an instinctive distrust of authority. British commanders were shocked that the ANZACs respected individuals, and had no respect for titles and fancy hats.
But while this rebelliousness is more evident in certain individuals, and in certain nations like Australia, it lives in every single one of us.
Every human on earth lives with controlling forces. And every ‘citizen’ is by definition, living under some power. Not matter how peacefully and cooperative your own instincts are, you will still feel the controlling hand of the state.
And so we all feel a need to ‘push back’ at some point in our lives.
We need to recognise this, and recognise that there’s an energy here we can work with… if we can make sure our rebelliousness is channelled into constructive outlets.
For example, you hate your job, and your boss is a micro-managing weasel. One rebellious instinct tells you to quit your job and enrol in a property investment masterclass.
Another instinct tells you to hit the booze and then make photo-copies of your arse to wall-paper his corner office with.
Not so productive.
But this is not just about take-off. It’s about landing too
You’ve been working hard on a deal for months. It’s taking longer than you thought, and is asking you to put in late-nights, day after day.
Your rebellious instinct kicks in. Do you pull out of the deal and send a photocopy of your arse to your JV partners?
Or do you realise it’s maybe time to step away from controlling yourself for a bit. Maybe you’ve been cracking your own whip a little too hard. Maybe its time to start negotiating with yourself more.
(Ok. I see this is hard. Give me two more months and I promise we’ll spend a week in Bali at the end of it.)
We are all rebels. Australians made it famous, but its something every human can relate to.
The key to a productive life is consciously working with your rebellious instincts.
And celebrating them.
The only people who don’t feel rebellious are the ones who can see no escape from power.
And no one wants that.