5 Keys to Breaking the Rules (While Still Playing the Game)
Last week we caught up with Samantha Edwards, co-founder and creative director of The Charles, a creative agency based in New York. As the driving force behind the innovative agency, Samantha discussed the importance of rebellion within the context of your work and how that’s come into play as she’s built a highly sought-after brand known for its innovative, outside-the-box approach to marketing and storytelling. Below, she shares some key things to keep in mind as you reinvent your approach in the workplace, no matter what field you’re in:
1. Know your place. On its own, the concept of knowing your place sounds totally contradictory to the concept of rule breaking, right? But it’s an important point to consider. Breaking the rules isn’t always about being front and center. Sometimes it’s working behind the scenes, making sure everything is set up and in its place, or it may be inspiring others and rallying the troops before going forth with your plan. It’s a foundation for…
2. Have trust in YOU. It's obvious, but true. I definitely feel that being emotionally intelligent and paying attention to intuition is one of the keys to success when breaking the rules.
Intuition is something that we should pay attention to more often; that feeling of nervousness, giddiness or a passing self-doubt can often mean that you’re onto something different, which may be the right path.
While I definitely believe in seeking the consult of others, there's a time and place for that. Sometimes break-out ideas aren't always meant to be shared before you execute. Sometimes others don’t understand your vision or may doubt your ability based on their own pre-conceived notions of doing what’s right. It often takes a big leap of faith, but the feeling of pay off if and when you succeed is monumental. Trusting yourself absolutely is not without its risks; it’s also equally important to differentiate intuition from narcism and pig-headedness by acknowledging your failures and learning and growing from them.
3. Make self doubt a controlled part of your process. At the agency we have a phrase that we ask all creatives to consider before they pitch the work (internally or externally). Do you believe in it? Are you proud of it? Does it blow your mind? If not, then why did you do it and why are you presenting it? It’s easy to get caught up in the psychological cycle of giving people what they want, or telling people what they want to hear. Self doubt is a necessary part of the rule-breaking process in terms of putting yourself out there.
4. Get your facts right. It’s one thing to be a renegade and blow people’s minds; it’s another to make sure you’ve got all the backup (whether it’s research, analysis or related stats) to prove your point. How can you be credible in your rule-breaking goals if you don’t have the facts and/or knowledge to back it up?
5. Be fierce (but don't underestimate the strength of kindness.) I’m the least sugarcoated woman I know. But if I need something doing and I need it doing right, barking orders often isn’t the right way to go about it. It’s important to be assertive, but being clear, confident and charming goes a very long way.