We all love a maverick

The business world could learn something from a tropical teenage escapade, says Matthew Reeves

I wholeheartedly approve of the decision and actions of the 16-year-old young scoundrel who got so bored of the Lancashire drizzle that he left, girlfriend in tow, for a tropical paradise.

When you come from a family that can afford an education that costs more per year than the average UK salary, who can blame Eddy Bunyan for what he did? Taking off to a land far away to lie on the beaches, bask in the romance of his first love, and soak up, well, the rain.

You can't blame the man for a little bit of oversight. So what if it's rainy season in the Dominican Republic. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes. Just look at the trashy mags that have been reporting this story. As far as I can see, they've totally missed the opportunity to churn out headlines containing even one of the words "hot", "wet", "romp" or "teen".

Whether you see the saga in terms of racist and sexist stereotypes: "Spanish romantic whisks away his timid Kazakhstani-origin girlfriend under the cloak of darkness" or class-related caricatures: "Public school teens, rich and thick like a good hollandaise, go on an opulent adventure", the story is attention-grabbing, even for someone like me who's a horrendous cynic about the news.

This isn't a seedy teacher going off to France with an underage student. This is a pair of teens with access to cash, who gave exactly zero s**ts about the consequences. And we all love real mavericks, because we don't often encounter them in real life, and certainly not in the workplace. All that fluff on application forms about "seeking someone who thinks outside the box" is just that: fluff.

The manufactured "leaders" who work in accounting firms, consulting firms, and FTSE 100s are actually all wracked with the fear of somehow making someone upset. Decisions usually have to go through "the system", an Orwellian, fear-fuelled tracking machine. "Do you approve of this?" is an oft-typed phrase.

It's somebody else's problem now, they're thinking at that point. And as the work ascends, all the sharp edges, any hint of anything dangerous and exciting is pruned, filed down, and buffed away. Leading has become synonymous with making sure everybody is unoffended. I don't mean happy; I mean unaffected and emotionless.

These "leaders" aren't the real winners though. The real winners, the real leaders are the ones who don't really care about disapproval. Doing things that make sense to you is a much better way to get ahead that trying to keep anyone happy.

Bunyan may have broken whatever the Law of Hogwarts says about going on foreign holidays with your girlfriend during term time. And he'll possibly have slipped behind in dressage, or whatever else it is that they teach at public school these days? (I'm daydreaming that, at some point, a caped educator will bark at him: "I've already got my A-Level in horse ballet - you've only cheated yourself!") But he won't care what his teachers, the red tops, or I think, and this just makes me approve of him even more.

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