In 1976, a female student -- who would go on to become an imminent professor of history at Harvard University -- made a statement that has become the mantra of many women in our society pursuing leadership roles. "Well-behaved women," said Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, "rarely make history." Although I am not a woman, I've always liked this for the power behind it. We could say that well-behaved people, regardless of gender, rarely make history.
You don't make a difference by following the rules. You can't change things by sticking with the way things are. As leaders in the mortgage industry, we've got to realize that success is never found in sticking with the status quo. You've got to be willing to push the envelope and break your way into new directions. If uncertainty holds you back, you'll never get anywhere. If you remain afraid of the dark, you'll never bring anything new to light.
Of course, in spite of all I'm saying, we do need to careful. In our industry, challenging authority and breaking the rules can mean many things. When it comes to regulatory issues and matters of compliance, I would absolutely encourage everyone to follow the rules. Breaking rules that we're obligated to follow legally isn't courageous; it's cheating. And it's not an issue of audacity; it's an issue of integrity.
In matters of high-level leadership strategy, though, we must never be afraid to challenge authority. We must be willing to seek out new markets, try out new processes, bring new kinds of people onto our team. It's in the untested waters that you will find the buried treasure. Are you looking there?