Becoming a Friendly Contrarian

by Connie

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I’m a contrarian, by nature.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a friendly contrarian and sometimes a provocative contrarian; but a contrarian all the same.

I question things; yep, pretty much all things.  I tend to push the limits, poking, peeking and investigating along the way.

When I was a child my mother would lament, ‘You should join the debate club, when you’re old enough, because you sure like to argue all points of all things.’  She quickly followed with, ‘And, you wear me out.’

I’m not a contrarian because I like to stir things up, unnecessarily.  My intention is not to be antagonistic.  And, it’s certainly not because I feel superior to those around me.  I know I have feet of clay.  That’s no surprise to me.

I enjoy being provocative and controversial; pushing the conversation past its normal limits.  Opening doors to sidebars and segues of discussion is meaningful to me.

Questioning is about getting inside someone’s brain.  It’s about getting to know them better.  It’s about connecting with them on a level you don’t yet know.

Being a friendly contrarian is about questioning the thinking of others while also challenging your own thought process.

It’s ingrained in me to pose the questions, ‘Why?’ or ‘Why not?’ throughout my Life.  It’s part of who I am.  I’m proud of that fact.  This personality trait has helped me become an accomplished person.

Because I’m constantly questioning, either verbally or in my mind’s eye, I have a very unique perspective on things.  Being a contrarian helps reinforce my positive mental attitude. I see solutions to challenges that others don’t.  I clearly see possibilities and opportunities when others see defeat or setbacks.  And you can, too.

You may usually accept the status quo, but are tired of living within that self-imposed box.  Maybe you’ve come to realize the limitations that it’s put on your life.  Maybe you realized that this just isn’t working for you anymore.

If you’d like to learn how to become a contrarian, I’ve created a list of steps to help you expand your thinking and open up your possibilities.

Steps to becoming a friendly and accomplished contrarian:

  • You don’t have to ‘Join the Club’. You don’t have to accept the perceptions, labels and established ways of doing things, as your own.  Since there are usually a variety of ways to achieve the same end result, the odds are in your favor that you just may have a better way to approach a situation.

This is about you stepping forward, going out on a limb and being a visionary, an innovator, a leader.

  • Question ‘Why?’  Why does it have to be done that way?  Why was it done that way in the first place?  Why can’t we try doing it this way, instead?  What if…?

Ask the question.  It doesn’t matter what the question is.  So, just ask it.

This isn’t about rejecting the established ways, just for the sake of being contrary or oppositional.  It’s about critical thinking, questioning other ways of doing things; ways that may be more customer-friendly, cost effective, more efficient or effective.  It’s about challenging to improve.  It’s about learning more about those around you, on a daily basis.

  • Question ‘Why not?’  Why not try…?  What haven’t we…?  What would be the worst thing that could happen if…?  What if…?

Ask the Question.  It’s one of the basic tenets of my Life and, therefore, my website.  You already know what the question is, so don’t be afraid to ask it.  What’s there to be afraid of, any way?  Really.

Once again, being contrary isn’t about being antagonistic or adversarial.  It’s about creating alternative visions, with enhanced improvements.  It’s about being creative and creating; it has nothing to do with being oppositional.

  • Identify the challenge or issue and, if possible, your ideal end result. What is the issue at hand?  Identify the challenge.  What is your goal?  What is the outcome you hope to obtain or reach?  What is it you hope to accomplish?  Focus on that.
  • Believe and trust in yourself. Be still so you can listen to your inner voice and connect with your natural instincts.   Get quiet so you can connect with your internal action plan.  You already have all the answers you will ever need within you.  You came into this world knowing what to do.  Keep the faith, believe and trust.
  • Get creative. Brain-storm ideas for ways to approach the challenge, differently.  Discover and identify alternative ways, look for fresh opportunities.  This is your chance to explore what I call the ‘Three C’s: Create, Concoct and Conceive’.  So, get on with it, chop, chop.

Put all your ideas to paper, even the wild and wacky ones.  This is not the time for censorship. Nothing is off-limits.  Everything is potentially fertile soil.

You never know where the ‘next, best thing’ will be coming from, now do you?  This is the fun part, because there are no restrictions.  You don’t hear that very often in life, now do you?

When I was a ‘tween’, I wanted to try to copy a famous piece of art.  I had a color picture of the piece, as my model.  Try as I may, I just couldn’t draw the basic lines accurately on the paper.  This threw off the entire sketch.  Time after time, I tried and I just couldn’t get it right.

Finally, I had an idea, a ‘light bulb moment’, if you will.  I decided to throw convention out the window and look at the picture from a different perspective.

I turned the picture of the famous artwork, upside down on the table in front of me.  All of the sudden, my brain wasn’t looking at it as an 11-year old trying to compete against the talents of a great old world master.

To my brain, it was just lines connecting in a different way than I had originally seen them.  It was another way for my brain to process the information.  I wasn’t feeling intimidated that I wasn’t doing this ‘right’.  I was allowing my eyes to see the lines, connecting on the page, as my brain was interpreting them.

It was a brilliant approach, if I do say so myself.  Don’t get me wrong, neither the Art Institute of Chicago nor the Louvre in Paris were calling to offer me a ‘free-ride’ scholarship, but my end-game was at least an identifiable attempt at the original.  And, I ended up learning a very valuable life-skill, at the same time.  The same can happen to you, if you challenge yourself to be creative.

  • Set your intention. Think about what you want and write it down, to imprint it upon your brain.  By setting an intention, you are getting clear about what it is you want or are hoping to experience. You are sending out a vibration of receiving your expectation.
  • It’s best to approach your intention from a place of love. I try to come from a place of ‘love’ when setting my intention or outcome.  For me, it’s not about crushing the opposition until they squeal for mercy, nor is it about converting others to my way of thinking. It’s about creatively approaching challenges, with mutual respect and finding a common-ground.

Remember, ‘Love is the answer.  It doesn’t matter what the question is.’    The Dalai Lama

  • Visualize and feel. After setting your intention and visualizing, you are transitioning into ‘receiving mode’.  This is where you imagine it happening, down to the very last detail.

See your end-result taking place, in your mind’s eye.  Feel how excited you are, nearly bursting with energy, telling your family and friends about your most recent accomplishment.  Get creative, again, feeling everything about your action plan and your ‘Win’.

  • Move forward with your ‘best’ idea. Notice I said, ‘best idea’, not ‘perfect idea’?  There is no such thing as perfect.  So choose your best idea and move forward with it.

Life is a series of choices and indecision is a decision.  I’ve found it best to always make a decision and propel forward.   

Assess the information you have at hand and make a decision.  Then act on it.  It’s not rocket-science.  When you get down to it, it’s easy, peasy, lemon squeezy.  It’s about daring to be courageous. 

  • Adapt or die. We can learn a lot from dinosaurs, beyond just the skeletons they left behind.  Adapt or die.  Once again, it comes down to pretty simple advice.

If you falter, pick yourself up and dust yourself off.  You’ve had a lot of experience with this one, if you’ve ever learned how to walk as a child.  Try, wobble, fall, pick yourself up and try again.  And most of us, as toddlers, did it with a big smile of accomplishment along the way, the majority of the time. 

Reassess the situation and get moving, again.  The idea is to be tenacious and to continue to take action.

Placing blame is counter-productive and self-flagellation is self-serving.  No one gains from it, least of all the martyr.

  • Ignore naysayers and the opinions of others. Think of all the modern day conveniences we take for granted.  It’s a pretty safe bet that Alexander Graham Bell, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison all had people telling them that it couldn’t be done, it’ll never happen or they were crazy. Turn a deaf-ear and stay true to your convictions.  It’s all about you blazing your own trail, now isn’t it?
  • Ask for forgiveness, rather than permission. While I don’t have any scientific proof to back this up, I am pretty sure that more incredibly ingenious and resourceful ideas have died ‘in committee’ or while sitting in the boss’s ‘In’ box, than have ever been put into motion.

If you really believe in your idea and you trust that you have solid reasons to put it into action, stick your neck out and go for it.  Be prepared to present your thought process to the head honcho, if necessary.

  • Be tenacious. Be persistent.  Don’t give up or take ‘no’ for an answer.  We might all still be sitting in the dark, if Ben Franklin had decided it was a little too rainy to bother to fly his kite that night, now wouldn’t we?
  • Give thanks and show your gratitude. The end result may or may not turn out as you had hoped.  That’s okay, because everything happens for a reason.  The Rolling Stones had it right when they sang, ‘You can’t always get what you want.  But if you try sometimes, well you just might find you get what you need.’

Make time to show your thanks and appreciation to the Universe for presenting this opportunity to you.

And remember to give thanks to you, for being brave enough to challenge the status quo and to take action to move things forward.

I’ll guarantee you’ve learned something during the process.

At the very, least you’ve pushed yourself out of your usual comfort zone…which is always a good thing, too.

I’d love for you to share how you’ve been a contrarian and the results you’ve received by asking the question.  Please share with me, using the email form, below.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Krystyna Domagala November 18, 2010 at 10:09 pm

I love this so much. Its really important to get us out of our comfort zones every so often and expand our minds!


Connie December 22, 2010 at 1:22 pm

I heard a saying when I was in high school. It’s stuck with me and I’m so glad it has. ‘Minds are like parachutes; they function only when open.’

That’s what I think of, when I feel a bit unsure or intimidated by something. I may not be sure what I’m going to learn of how I’m going to grow from the experience; but I know expansion is coming my way. And that’s Always a good thing, in my book.



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