Being Extreme

Being extreme is easy, inspiring and even fun sometimes, but it’s not very helpful when it comes to working with others.  Channeled properly however, it can be life-changing.

On the one hand, being extreme often stirs passion and motivates others to action. But it also can cloud thinking, distract from reality, and silence calmer, more reasoned opinions that might very well prove more viable a solution.

Being extreme allows others to expend energy and emotion, have their voices heard, regardless of how well-thought their ideas are.  When working with or otherwise relating to others, the behavior is counter-productive to finding common ground, considering other people’s perspectives, being open to change, making progress.

I’m reminded of a quote from Michel de Montaigne, a philosopher from the French Renaissance:  “He who establishes his argument by noise and command shows that his reason is weak.”

On the other hand, here’s are some areas where being extreme is decidedly GOOD.

Pushing the envelope of human achievement.  We wouldn’t have the discoveries and innovations and many of the modern wonders of the world without inventors, researchers, and explorers being extreme in their pursuit of their interests.

Think Christopher Columbus, the Wright Brothers, Robert Noyce, Edmund Hillary, Tommy Caldwell.

Expressing the unabashed joy and celebration of performance, entertainment, art all could go in another bucket of those things which benefit from extremism, at least on occasion.  Often times new music, new art form, new expression can be met with skepticism, doubt, even fear.

Think Elvis Presley, Tommy Iommi, Joesph Simmons, Pearl Jam, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollack, Salvador Dali.

Creating new ways to help others in need, often those in dire, chronic conditions of want that benefit from others taking a fresh approach to the problems. Such situations and circumstances can also benefit from those thinking and ACTING on extreme ideas to effect positive change.

Think Médecins Sans Frontières and Partners In Health, think about the rise and proliferation of social entrepreneurs, crowd-funding, micro-lending, etc. via Kiva, Khata: Life,, all channels for addressing particular problems with creativity, fresh motivation to make positive, sustainable change.

So be extreme, but only if it’s for GOOD.

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