They see things differently than the majority of people around them.
Their ideas may occur to managers and co-workers as off-topic, irrelevant, disruptive, impossible or even “crazy”.
Prolonged exposure to judgement and criticism leaves Crazy Canaries feeling trapped, unappreciated, misunderstood, exhausted, defeated, disillusioned…and very, very alone.
Could you be a Crazy Canary?
Crazy Canaries begin as self-starters who value freedom and autonomy. They don’t like being told what to do. They crave radical change to the status quo and are frustrated by formal authority figures who fixate on symptoms, take too long to make decisions, and fail to address the root cause of serious problems or threats.
When operating in their element Crazy Canaries are passionate difference-makers and pace setters.
Crazy Canaries – when the right approach is used - are instrumental in causing transformation. Their insights often reveal process gaps, dormant assets, and opportunities for action that formal leaders and decision-makers simply don’t see.
If you have an intuitive ability to see the bigger picture and attempt to solve problems holistically by introducing innovative ideas, you may be a Crazy Canary yourself.
Whether you suspect you are one, or the behaviour and idiosyncrasies of a Crazy Canary impacts you at work, you need insights, new language, communication skills and proven strategies to get your expertise used and your best ideas implemented with ease.
We think of other people’s reactions as solely theirs, something we can’t control. It’s that feeling of powerlessness when people don’t “get us” that leaves us feeling trapped and suppressed like a Crazy Canary.
It’s true we can’t control the situation or the final outcome, we most definitely can have a positive influence on the process by altering how we introduce, communicate and receive new ideas.
There is tremendous value in how Crazy Canaries analyze problems and dream up holistic solutions. If you feel trapped and suppressed at work, consider it a breakdown in your leadership and communication.
The world is waiting for you to find your voice and spring yourself free from your cage.
One quick technique to get your Crazy Canary under control
We think at lightning speed so it’s hard to drive a wedge in a conversation that’s heating up to give it a bit more time to cool off.
You need a structure to interrupt your usual pattern.
Do you remember Stop, Drop and Roll?
When the conversation heats up and you feel the internal emotional burn that comes from not being understood, use this technique to put the fire out.
Stop – Recognize the communication isn’t working. Give yourself a cooling off period. Shouting, swearing or convincing will only fan the flames and hamper your attempt to bring resolution.
Drop – No don’t hit the floor (unless you really want to be labelled as crazy)! Drop the personal focus. It’s not personal it’s systemic. Instead of making it about people, drop the focus to the system. Instead of “Joe’s not pulling his weight” say “we’re not meeting our production targets in the button department”. As soon as you make it about Joe you trigger resistance and defensiveness. When you focus on the system there is no blame and everyone can sit on the same side of the table to analyze the problem and come up with viable solutions. Drop the personal focus and it instantly changes the dynamic.
Roll - There is an underlying system to everything in the universe. From the way a seed grows to the way a star is formed there is a system – a series of processes that need to happen before you see the end result. Systems are circular. Remember roll equals round, and round equals systems. Just like fire, you can extinguish a heated conversation by depriving it of oxygen – blame.
The effectiveness of Stop, Drop and Roll is further enhanced when we combine it with new tools and communication structures. What matters now is that you’ve interrupted your pattern and are on track for becoming a happier bird.