Why Be An Iconoclast


by Burt Dubin on September 7, 2009

Why be an iconoclast:

(Get ready to be offended!)

 Iconoclast, n. 1. A person who ignores laws, customs, and cherished beliefs, deciding for himself/herself whether to abide by such imposed imperatives

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Natural law:

1. It is in the nature of all organized governments to control as well as serve its citizens or subjects.

2. It is in the nature of all organized religions to control as well as serve its true believers.

( I told’ja you’d be offended. An ancient philosopher whose name I forgot, said “No mind can be considered free when it is under the control of another mind.”)

Who’s in charge here:

3. I do not like being controlled . . . especially when I am told it’s for my own good.

4. So I choose to observe the laws, rules and customs of authority figures, be they governments or religions.

Please note: I observe rather than obey. Having observed, I then make up my own mind regarding the degree to which I choose to obey and abide by prescribed laws, rules and customs.

The Red Light:

Long-time readers will recall my article about the Santa Monica traffic signal where the California Incline reached Pacific Coast Highway. I have often arrived facing a red traffic light with not a vehicle in sight for as far as I can see in either direction on PCH.

So I boldly ignore the signal and proceed onto PCH. My iconoclast mind tells me that the purpose of a traffic signal is to control traffic.

Ergo, no traffic = no function. So I go through the red and drive to LAX for my early flight!

“Why should I care?”

5. You may wonder what this attitude has to do with being in the speaking business. So I’ll tell you:

Those of us with what Naomi Rhode aptly calls the privilege of the platform own an awesome opportunity. We can be instruments of awakening.

What audiences want:

Audiences want to see a speaker who is one who knows. They love the unique, the different, the one-of-a-kind speaker or trainer.

So I recommend you be yourself on the platform. Revel in your warts, your flaws . . . and your perceived wisdom.

Share more than your words:

I mean share more than your words. Your stance, your movements, your facial expressions, all add value. They serve to entertain while you inform.

You can include asides while addressing the announced topic. These asides, stories, and examples, can embody your own perceived wisdom.

What else to include:

Within this body of wisdom you may include your views on personal autonomy.

Wake ‘em up!

You can, in your signature stories, your sidebars and vignettes, influence audiences to think for themselves. Then to decide for themselves which attitudes, beliefs, words and actions to engage —in order to best serve themselves and their loved ones.

You can influence those at your feet to be autonomous and to be free.

You can endow hearts with hope. You can leave them feeling better about themselves and their possibilities to become what they will. This transcends by a country mile the topic you address.

Get asked back:

Finally, your passion, your transparency and your authenticity serve to make you unforgettable. They induces audiences to want more of you . . . and to write great Evaluations. And to want you back again.

Then what:

Ca’ching! Ca’ching! Ca’ching. All the way to the bank.


Burt Dubin September 14, 2009 at 10:09 am

Hi Mike, responding to your question:

I am a resolute believer in questioning authority in the workplace.
That’s why I’d not be a good employee. I prefer to act based on my
own authority, on my own sense of what is the highest and best action
for the better good of all concerned.

From the company viewpoint they want dutiful morons working for them,
people who do exactly what they are asked to do. Sadly, most public
schools turn out such people to do the assigned work and pay taxes.

Burt Dubin

Mike Grill September 8, 2009 at 7:07 pm

Hi Burt,
Your post reminded me of the ‘Authority’ song by John Mellencamp. It’s not that I ‘fight authority’ as much as question much of it. My son and daughter both have the same attitude (scary, huh!).

Questioning authority in the workplace – especially in today’s economy – can be a scary proposition.
Could this be a disadvantage for organizations? Or, could it be a competitive advantage?


Mike Grill

Brenda Shoshanna September 8, 2009 at 4:58 pm

Hi Burt,

Love this. I am an iconoclast, was born that way
and it’s a relief to read this. Yay.


Brenda Shoshanna, Ph.D., psychologist, speaker

Daniel St-Jean September 8, 2009 at 10:35 am

Hi Burt,

to translate a French saying, you might have snow on the roof, but it’s evident in this post that you also have a lot of heat in the fireplace!

You devil you! Running red lights… I applaud you, Burt.

And thank you for teaching me the word that perfectly describes my own attitudes toward rules and regulations, be they put in place by churches, governments, or associations. Unfortunately, too many people don’t know the difference between the spirit of the law, and the word of the law.

Burt, I’m glad to know that you’re an iconoclast too!

Keep it up bro!

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