Safety Triggers: When People Try To Slow Rebels Down


“Stop. Look. Go,” advises Br. David Steindl-Rast.

He’s referring to a practice that cultivates gratefulness. But Rebel bigmouth here misconstrues it. When someone utters a ridiculous cliché about being overly cautious, I stop myself from saying something snarky, look at the person with disbelief, and then go crazy. Even if it’s just in my head, keeping the verbal lashing away from the person who just crossed the line.

This Rebel at Work’s top safety triggers:

The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.

This makes me want to be evil, crazy and say something irreverent to shock the complacent advice-giver. I refuse to cling to the past and close my mind to what’s emerging. Why would I ever turn my back on what I don’t know? Why would I run from the surprises yet to come?

It’s nice to be nice.

…and it’s emotionally constipated to be so passive-aggressive. Tamping down our emotions may make us feel temporarily safe. But there’s no safety in emotional avoidance and there’s no kindness in being emotional bland. Come on out of that emotional hiding place. Feel those emotions, smell their aliveness. Frank feedback and daring ideas make many uncomfortable. We’re not aiming for nice; we’re aiming for better. Maybe even amazing.

Better safe than sorry.

How do you know you’ll be sorry? Didn’t anyone ever tell you that a lot of surprises are good? Next time just tell me, “That scares me,” instead of this boring drivel. Then I won’t bite your head off or ignore you.

Look before you leap.

Stop making me second guess my gut reactions, which are my most reliable North Star.  By the way, leaping is way more fun than just sitting around looking at the world pass you by.

First things first.

I know you’re scared. But don’t slow down the magic. Come on. Let’s zoom through a first version, slamming down all the energy and bubbling ideas, and then go back and assess and edit. Really. Sometimes the fourth thing is way better than that cautious first thing.

A bird in hand is worth two in the bush.

Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe the bird you’re holding is dead, and the two in the bush are fat little songbirds that will sing to you for years.

Safety is our No. 1 priority.

Yeah, right. Have you looked at our sick day policies? The pitiful health care coverage? The productivity and output measures that lead people to the edge of breakdowns?  Safety starts by looking at how to improve the workplace so people can thrive instead of stress.


Did you just dismiss my fears? Or are you perpetually bored? Or are you brushing away what you no longer can bare? Oops, I mean bear. What’s unbearable.

This is what feels unsafe to a Rebel at Work

People who default to using cliched catch phrases make me feel unsafe.

Those trite lines make me afraid that you’re so emotionally stunted that our relationships will come to ruin or an ugly dead end.

That you will resist uncomfortable new ideas and our organization will become irrelevant. Now THAT is scary.

That you’ll hold on to what use to work in a world that no longer is, making it even harder for the rest of us to adapt, innovate and flourish.

Be the change you want to see, baby.


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Originally posted at Work 2.0