For most of us, the word ‘maverick’ conjures up an image of a cowboy or an outlaw, living on his wits and fighting against an unjust system. They share characteristics: the ability to take risks, independence of mind, clarity of thought and focus. It is increasingly acknowledged that maverick characteristics are key to success in business life. Mavericks are innovative and courageous and not afraid to risk trying something new. We all have some maverick blood in us; let it flow and see where it takes you.
There are those of us who always play by rules and are happy to do so; we like knowing what the structure is, what our role is and what the negotiating space is. We are on the path taken by the majority and learn how to deal with both the positives and negatives of that. Then there are those among us who are mavericks, people who take nothing for granted, who challenge the rules and regulations because they want to do things differently. As a maverick, Pat Falvey questions everything, even if it works. This is because, a lot of the time, he thinks things can be done better by taking a different approach.
Mavericks may have the same goals as everyone else; it’s just that they are taking a less-travelled or previously unexplored route. This can cause friction with the upholders of the established order who mightn’t like having the rules and order they created—in good faith, more often than not—being challenged by those whom they may perceive as outsiders. Traditionalists may feel challenged and threatened by new approaches. Breaking down old systems can be painful for everyone and both mavericks and the established order are well served by taking cognisance of what the other is trying to achieve.
It can be a lonely road being a maverick. When we are outsiders or mavericks, we don’t have the supports that insiders have, but we don’t have the restrictions either. We can use the freedom of this space to experiment and think outside the box. There may be huge pressure to conform when we pose a challenge to the status quo. However, when we believe that we have made a breakthrough to a new and better way of doing something, or that the existing rules have become exclusive rather than inclusive, this is the time when we must remain courageous and maintain self-belief.
We need to acknowledge any vulnerability we may have, address them and then forge ahead, having ensured that we have the skills and knowledge needed to achieve what we have set out to achieve. We should all be ready to discard old beliefs when they no longer serve us and are, in fact, impeding our progress.
Pat adopted a maverick approach in the 1980s when he was trying to trade out of financial ruin. He had just done a deal with his bank which had given him a license to sell sites for houses. But the country was still in the grip of recession and his potential clients had no chance of raising the deposit needed to secure the necessary loan from their building society or bank to buy the house. So he set up a loan scheme within his building and auctioneering group and loaned the deposits to the clients directly. He then gave them a letter stating they had secured the 10% deposit for their house.
The letter ensured the building society or bank would loan them the balance of the money to allow them to purchase their house. The client would then repay Pat the money that he had loaned them. Without this deposit, these people had no chance of getting their own homes, and with the recession, they hadn’t a hope of securing a loan from a traditional institution. He took the maverick route and solved a problem for both the home buyers and Pat. Bringing a maverick approach to business is often what helps a business survive and thrive, especially in difficult times.