In 7th grade, there was a beautiful big tree in the schoolyard. It was just perfect for climbing. It had large limbs reaching out from the trunk the right distance apart to be able to move higher up into the tree with relative ease.
I loved climbing trees. One day I talked a friend into climbing the tree with me to eat our lunch. A short while later one of the teachers walked by and saw us in the tree. He immediately told us to get down. I asked “Why?” His response, “Because girls don’t climb trees.” I replied, “that is not a reason for me to get down so I am staying in the tree.” He did not like my disobedience and demanded we get down. My friend was uncomfortable in the situation and did get down out of the tree at that point. I did not. I stayed put arguing for a while until I realized I wasn’t going to win the battle. When I finally did get down the teacher marched me directly into the principal’s office and I got in a whole lot of trouble for not doing what I was told.
What is significant to me about this story is that I got in trouble for disobeying the teacher. No one cared why I disobeyed. Those in formal authority made their decision based on their point of view that I was wrong. From my perspective, climbing a tree was a pretty mundane activity. When my family went apple picking, I was always allowed to climb up the tree to get the really nice apples near the top of the tree. We had lived on a farm for a few years when I was young and outdoor activities like climbing trees were quite ordinary. What did being a girl have to do with it??
The other thing I need to tell you is that I have four brothers and no sisters. What triggered my reaction in the schoolyard was being told so often at home that I couldn’t do something. When I would ask why it was ok for my brothers to do ‘it’, I was told, “they are boys”. (Mind you, tree climbing was one thing that was never a problem.) Refusing to get down out of the tree because I was a girl is my earliest recollection of my inner system disrupter speaking up.
Being a system disrupter is really about asking questions. “How come…?” “What if …” “Why not …” I’ve continued to ask a lot of questions throughout my life and career, intertwining my belief that anything is possible with disrupting the status quo.
My goal is to help you access your inner system disrupter.
Coincidentally, our backyard now has some amazing trees just perfect for climbing! What ‘trees’ have you climbed lately? Or, what ‘trees’ would you like to climb in your life? Where have you practiced your disrupter powers?