The weekend saw the sad loss of journalist-critic A. A. Gill, someone I grew up reading every week in the Sunday Times. I would devour his restaurant reviews even if I never had the slightest intention of visiting the high-class London restaurants he recommended. Instead it was the jaw-dropping style of the sentences and wit.
A friend posted one of his quotes today: « The interesting adults are always the school failures, the weird ones, the losers, the malcontents. This isn’t wishful thinking. It’s the rule. » This ties in with something I’d wanted to write about for a while – something that I’ll call the conceptual division between those who seek to thrive within the status quo, and those who look to change it.
We like to divide people – introverts and extroverts, men from Mars etc. As I see it, the status-quoers/system-battlers division is a useful one, with me firmly in the status-quoers camp. Particularly through working with colleagues, I realise that I have a strong tendency to put up with the world as it is, seek to excel within the rules, and not get too frustrated about the overall system. It’s the sort of approach that shows itself in good performance at school (not challenging the system), but doesn’t end up doing much to radically change the world.
We almost certainly need both. System-battlers seem to live in a world of constant frustration (in part because they struggle to understand how others can put up with the system) – this can waste a lot of energy and not accomplish much. But status-quoers are often blind to how they could much better results by doing things differently.