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dr rebel: what makes a rebel?

when i share my perspective on rebellious behaviour, the most common response is people telling me they also identify as a rebel (or they now finally understand that their spouse is a rebel 😅). however, they also confide in me that they are hesitant ‘to come out’. in many organisations, rebels are not treated very well, and people are frightened they’ll suffer the same fate.

over the past years, i have met a lot of rebels and i like to study their behaviour. based on these encounters, i came up with the following framework for rebellious behaviour:

dr rebel what makes a rebel

rebels are:

curious: rebels can see the world through different eyes and know that things can be done differently. this is why they can get excited about incomprehensible and illogical rules and procedures. they denounce this and step up to fix it, often without asking permission (which is not always appreciated…). also, they are always looking for new things and constantly learning. they keep asking a lot of questions, even to the point that it can become pretty annoying.

creative: rebels feel an enormous urge to make things better and to create something new. they always find solutions to problems they encounter, often by going off the beaten track. they use ideas from completely different contexts to solve their problems. often, they think and act so quickly that they forget to explain the context to others, and as a result, leading to a lot of frustration and resistance.

courageous: rebels are extremely driven to share their findings and ideas, even though they know often they will receive lots of opposition. it takes a fair amount of courage to do that. their natural urge to improve things is often so strong that saying or doing nothing is not an option for them. they take ownership of problems, even when they are outside their responsibilities. rebels don’t shy away from heated dialogues, and as long as they don’t hear sensible arguments to the contrary, they stick to their idea.

and underlying these three traits, this is their foundation:

care: rebels are guided by a strong moral compass. they care so much about their work and others, that they are willing to speak up when they see injustice or immoral behaviour, even if that puts them in a difficult position.

more inspiration? then read my column: ‘oh no! we have a rebel in our team. but is that such a disaster?’

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