By now, you've heard the news. Seth Rogen and his band of merry-men filmed a motion picture set to be released over Christmas called "The Interview", which basically stars Rogan and others as would be assassins of the North Korean premiere.
The North Koreans didn't take it well. They hacked Sony Pictures, embarrassed that company through leaked emails, then saved the biggest swing for last - they threatened terrosist attacks at movie theatres that showed the picture.
Sony yanked the picture. Some say the terrorists won. I say it's a nice lesson for your career.
Here's the lesson - never mess with people - employees, leaders, clients, customers, direct reports, etc - who are a combination of the following two things:
2. Have nothing to lose.
Being crazy and having nothing to lose means you can do whatever you want and not be worried about the consequences. That fits North Korean and it's leadership, but it also fits many people in your company as well.
When you mess with someone who's crazy and really can't lose, you're going to get a reaction, and it's probably going to sting. Examples from your life in corporate America.
1. You went high integrity on a leader with absolute power, noting some ethical issues in his behavior. He's crazy and has absolute power. You got crushed.
2. You made a quick call on an direct report that no one is comfortable with. They were crazy and this just in - had nothing left to lose. The EEOC charge came as a result. Now you're going to be drug through the mud.
3. You muscled up on a colleague in a territorial power struggle. Turns out they were crazy - who knew? They also were unstable, and being reactionary is a part of that. So they blew the issue up, and now you're getting bunched together with that colleague - as crazy and reactionary.
The list goes on. Can you do any of the things listed above? Sure you can, this is America. But in America, the market decides. And you picked a slice of the market - crazy people with nothing to lose - that introduced a bunch of variability into your career.
Rogen and Sony had every right to make the movie. Unfortunately, stone cold CRAZY with nothing to lose trumps free speech, etc. Safety becomes the priority for everyone on the edges.
It's the same thing with your career. Pick on crazy people with nothing to lose, and ultimately, you start looking more like the crazy person than you would like.
You probably don't like to make eye contact with panhandlers, right? It's because you know at best it's going to go OK/neutral, and at worst it's going to go horribly wrong when you say no.
Learn from Rogan and Sony. Don't mess with the crazy people with nothing to lose in your career.