When are you driven or willing enough to let “the mongrel in you” come out? What needs to happen for that to eventuate? Is it when you are confronted? Or when you really badly want something? Or do you sometimes use it as a tactic to further the achievement of an outcome? Or does it only happen when you’ve “lost it”? Are you maximizing your behaviour management?
The Mongrel Metaphor
Wikipedia describes mongrel as: a mutt, or mixed-breed dog that is one that belongs to no single organizationally recognized breed and is not the result of selective breeding; one of uncertain ancestry.
But that alone is not what I mean by this term. I found a lot of synonyms in the word maverick, which has been defined as: someone who refuses to play by the rules and isn’t scared to cross the line of conformity, and allows their unconventional behaviour or unorthodox tactics get uncommon results.
If we combine these two ideas, then we get a little closer to the slang use of the word “mongrel” and indeed the behaviour it suggests in the context of driving uncommon outcomes.
The Law of Requisite Variety
The law of requisite variety is a presupposition of NLP (Neuro Linguistic programming). It states that the system or person with the most flexibility of behaviour will control that system.
That suggests that if you want to achieve some uncommon outcomes that you’ll want to be willing to invest in some uncommon approaches or behaviours. You’ve probably heard the cliché that “if you want to achieve something you’ve never achieved before, then you’ll need to try something you’ve never tried before”, right?
The (Un)Comfort Zone
So in that context, it is quite likely that if we choose to stay within The Comfort Zone, that we will probably get predictable outcomes. If we are willing to step out of that zone and “cross the line” into some uncharted (personal behaviour) territory, we will probably want to engage some Chutzpah and perhaps be a little more daring, right?
So how did I do that when I chose to try something different? Well, the “butterflies in your tummy” are a good starting indicator. If the intended behaviour raises your pulse and your blood pressure, then that’s usually a good sign that you are about to play in an unfamiliar space with potentially unfamiliar consequences. Of course I would try and chose circumstances where either the fallout was not “catastrophic” if it were to fail, or where the prize made that price worthwhile.
Using “the Gap” to reframe yourself might provide a useful period of consideration in which you can best plan such an approach and its timing.
Creating negotiation differences
I have learned that one place where the law of requisite variety comes to fruition best is in the negotiation space. My clients learn that the world is a stage and we the players, and it is how we hold and manage ourselves on that stage that decides the outcomes we achieve.
So bluffing tactics, like in a poker game are part of the deal. Feigning anger or acute disappointment or even tears are age old tactics that still work today. This is where you might want to try and “let the mongrel in you come out”. Indulging in some tones or behaviours or language that is uncharacteristic for you might be the way to go. Why not have a try?
In Arrogance, Aggression & Assertiveness I speak about different behaviour characteristics, highlighting where different behaviours manifest and also how we can successfully apply them. However, my emphasis is always on maintaining empathy and due care for the feelings of the other party, no matter what approaches, tactics or behaviours we might choose to engage. What I’m saying is that even if we choose uncharacteristic (for instance seemingly intimidating) behaviour, it shouldn’t come across as personally denigrating the other person or party.
It is amazing how sometimes one single, urgent, “take no prisoners” approach can make all the difference. I love the sport of rugby union. It is a very physical contact sport that requires great flexibility, agility and speed of intelligent reflex to “get through” the opposition. Sometimes it is just the “nouse” or Chutzpah that allows the difference. For example, if a player has decided that “enough is enough” and chooses to “get through them if it kills me” that we see “the mongrel” come out and head down, they simply barrage themselves through any form of obstacle and come out on the other side, often with a try.
If you were to ask them at that point how they did that, other than recognizing that it was a choice, they probably couldn’t tell you how – just that it had to be done, so they did it…
Such individual incidences can sometimes be the catalyst that turns the whole game in that teams favour.
Where might this work for you?
My experience has been that when we want to try out a new skills or tactic, we need to be on the lookout for an opportunity where we can actually “have a go”, right? Of course sometimes we can’t plan these things and when such an opportunity presents itself, we may need to react spontaneously and “just do it”, lest the moment or the opportunity might pass. This is where the brave or the audacious will differentiate themselves from the “average” in that they will then actually have a go and look back from a position of experience (success or failure) rather than regret. That’s a fine line, isn’t it?
So what might need to be in place or what form of motivation or confrontation might you need ahead of you to “push you over the edge” that you would allow the mongrel in you to come out? Have you ever considered that? Why don’t you have a think of something that’s been bothering you right now and assess where, when and how you might be able to remedy that or turn it around with some audacious “mongrel” approaches?
For instance, I had a client once that was being ostracized by his business partners. Even in his presence they would sometimes just ignore him, irrespective of whether he tried to contribute or not. I don’t think they were even aware of it when it was happening. Until it simply got too much for him and he sought help from his coach to try to remedy this situation.
The “mongrel” tactic: in a crowded coffee shop after further incidences of such behaviour he crossed the “enough is enough” threshold and chose to smash his flat palmed hand onto the table with quite some force, causing not only a loud bang, but displacing crockery, some of which fell from the table. The result: silence; the whole coffee shop was watching; the perpetrators were stunned by the uncharacteristic behaviour of their “docile” colleague; the ball was in his court; he had the attention he wanted so he could drive the outcome he needed. Of course he would choose his next words carefully, given that the whole coffee shop was probably now listening for what came out next…
Drastic? Maybe. Effective? Very. Mission accomplished. The “mongrel” had come out and served its purpose. The discussion(s) that followed in more appropriate quarters were able to address the problem for good.
So what next?
That’s exactly what I mean by “letting the mongrel in you come out”. Whatever the situation or whatever the circumstances you find yourself in, if you want to be sure that you will drive through to achieving that specific outcome you really desperately need, then “all’s fair in love and war” might be an approach you could choose to engage.
If and when you do, you may surprise yourself. You’ll certainly surprise those around you in that they will probably not have expected it and probably found it to be quite uncharacteristic for who they know you to be. As I wrote in Surprise! No matter how well planned, it is the very fact that it was so unexpected that often achieves the breakthrough.
My recommendation is that you plan to try it out where an opportunity presents itself in the coming week or weeks. Have a go and see what outcome differences it can achieve for you. But I also recommend that if it works, that like planning a surprise, you would want to use it sparingly so that it can have maximum effect when you do.
However, please don’t let that prevent you from “having a go”. It is the person with the greatest repertoire of behavioural variety that will clinch the desired outcomes. You just need to choose whether you want to be one of those or not, OK?
Let Us Know What You Think