In honor of the 240th anniversary of the America’s Declaration of Independence from Britain, I too shall declare myself independent:
I no longer consent to be governed by the tyranny of the status quo!
The status quo is the common path, the “way things are;” it is an undercurrent of expectation urging us to do things the way things are done. No need to stray from the path, no need to rock the boat. A place for everything and everything in its place. It’s a powerful force whose only goal is maintain predictability.
But… don’t we want to change? We want to grow, create and originate and that’s not possible if you don’t begin to behave a little unpredictably. You can’t do everything exactly as you always have and expect different results. It just doesn’t work (it is not, however, insanity). To truly create positive change you must let go of some of the expectations that create your status quo.
The world is full of expectations. They come from our cultures, our families, our friends and our communities. These expectations are the currents that shape our place in society. They ensure that people behave predictably and effectively maintain the power dynamics that undergird the systems and structures that govern our day to day. Look closely at anything and you’ll see that there are expectations pushing and pulling at you at all times. For example:
- How does your day unfold? For some the day starts early and ends early; dinner begins at 6:30 and everyone is asleep by 10pm. European countries typically eat dinner after 9pm. People in Spain come home and rest between noon and 2pm.
- How do you interact with others? If you live in a major city you probably don’t make eye contact with people you pass on the street. If you live in a smaller town, you probably make small talk with most people who cross your path.
- What does it mean to be in a family? In some families it means sharing your feelings while in others it means doing things together. For some “family” is a loose association while for others it means a tight knit, intertwined relationship. For some “family time” brings to mind time with a nuclear family of parents and kids while for others it raises images of gathering with grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles.
Stop for a second and ponder- are any of these options necessarily better than the rest? Not really. They all seem generally fine. But then think about your own life- how often do you deviate from “your way?” Probably not that often. And yet, it is entirely up to you how you go about your day, interact with others or conduct your family life! You could push yourself to make more eye contact even though you live in a major city if you want to make more friends. You could talk with your kids about feelings if you prefer that to the activity focused family you grew up in. You can replace those expectations with your ow commitments.
Today is Independence Day, a day when we honor the truly unlikely act of a colony declaring itself sovereign from a global super-power. If 13 scrappy colonies can free itself from the most powerful country in the world, we can create the life we want to lead! Examine the expectations are guiding your behavior and take a critical eye to the routines and habits that form the contours of your day. Are they serving you? If not, let’s work to redesign them. Let’s replace expectations with commitments, rigidity with flexibility and mindlessness with mindful observation. Let’s declare independence from the status quo!
Speaking of letting things go, Lin-Manuel Miranda is leaving Hamilton: An American Musical! The music from Hamilton has been my constant soundtrack while I’ve launched Powerful Peony and Lin-Manuel Miranda has been a beacon of true artistry and perseverance that has truly been an inspiration. To honor this EGOT earning genius as he exits stage left, posts this week will feature lyrics from Hamilton. 🙂