Published in Smart Healthy Woman


Come and join me on a short journey to discover the significance of Rebellion and the value for us as individuals and our culture today.If someone asked you to describe Rebellion what would you say? Maybe





Rebellion as defined by the English Oxford Dictionary is:  Showing a desire to resist authority, control, or convention. 

Reflecting on this description I presume many of you, the readers, would consider this to have a negative impact on us and society.  However I would like you to contemplate the idea that these traits may in fact contribute to a positive outcome?

What about resisting authority – Could there be any time that this might be useful?

How about wanting to take control?

What about not following convention?

And any positives in being bold?

YES of course there is!

Imagine a world where everyone followed the rules, never challenged the establishment or took control of a train wreck waiting to happen.

I can tell you what it would be like – BORING, CONSTRICTING, LIMITING and UNINSPIRING. We’d be living in a world of scaredy cats, do gooders and yes Sir, no Sir, three bags full Sir passengers.

Anyone cringing because I certainly am!

My research lead me to discover there is a great deal of evidence to support an argument for Rebellion albeit “healthy rebellion”.

Let’s consider the big one – Music.  Does anyone know a musician that hasn’t rebelled at some stage during their life?   If you were to find someone I’m quite certain we could comfortably title them a rare being.

Think about Rock n Roll.  Rolling Stone Magazine, rock’s foremost magazine, proudly noted in its 20th anniversary TV special:

“It’s not just an exaggeration to say that rebellion is more than just an occasional theme in rock, it is its very heart and soul ….”

As one reads through the history of rock ‘n roll you find there is a recurring theme presenting itself time and time again, that the essence of rock is most unavoidably rebellion.

 “Rebellion is the only thing that keeps you alive!  Marianne Faithfull

You see rebellious types will think outside the box, shake things up, resist authority and challenge the status quo.

Let’s turn our attention to leadership.  When teaching leaders how to manage people I will often share “the flow model” ” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.  This model is useful to ensure our people have challenges offered to them commensurate with their skills.

Get the balance wrong and one may become stressed and anxious and/or bored and feel uninspired.

So what does Rebellion have to do with this?

Well after sharing the model I ask for a show of hands of those in the room who had ever rebelled in their life and with no word of a lie around 75% of the room would raise their hand.  Remember I’m talking with people in leadership roles here.

The majority of them explained the reason they did this was because they were bored.  Either the work they were being asked to do didn’t make sense and they could see a better way, or the work itself was underwhelming and they weren’t afraid to let this be known.

You see rebellious types (leaders) aren’t afraid to speak up for the things they believe in.  They will speak about things others are afraid to discuss because they are not driven by the need to be liked. They enjoy challenging the status quo and looking for new and different ways of doing things.

Turning to another angle  what about “Grit” – the book about the Power of Passion & Perseverance?

A must read for anyone wanting to know what it takes to be successful.  Author Angela Duckworth admits she had a streak of rebellion in trying to prove her father wrong about his relentless badgering “you’re no genius”.  She has earned herself a spot on the “The New York Times bestseller list and among other honours, a MacArthur “Genius Grant”.

Angela spent years studying success.  She interviewed swimmers, chefs, army cadets, telesales executives, entrepreneurs and CEO’s and concluded with one thing they all had in common and that was “Grit”.  That being the sum of Perseverance, determination, toughness, resilience, a hint of stubbornness, conviction, belief in oneself and ones ideas, and resistance to the critics.  Many of the same attributes are encompassed in rebellion.

A study by Professors Zhen Zhang and Richard Arvey from the National University of Singapore, Department of Management and Organisation – found that modest rule-breaking in adolescence (family/school offenses, delinquency) is a marker for entrepreneurial behaviour.

We are intrinsically motivated to be free……

Leading psychologists of the last century, Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers, both agreed that individuals must be the centre of attention when having therapy.

Rogers created the Client Centric approach whereby the therapist gave control of the conversation to the Client.  This was unheard of in his times.  Rogers himself challenged the status quo in this case to prove that the client wants control of how the sessions are managed and the agreed outcomes.  These experiments resulted in the early development of psychotherapy.

Maslow on the other hand is famous for developing the hierarchy of needs with Self-Actualising being the peak of experiences.

His theory suggests that people are intrinsically motivated to be free, to be themselves, and use their innate gifts and natural abilities and to own their shortfalls.  This is a truly peak state of being.

Therefore I am curious as to how one could possibly achieve this heightened state of awareness and development without pushing the boundaries, without taking control, without passion and drive and the freedom to listen and follow our internal voice.

One can’t help but get a sense that a touch of healthy rebellion is weaved through the tapestry of a fulfilled life.

Dianne Dawson