There is a great post on Creating Passionate Users titled "The Zone of Expendability" which advocates being noticed, whether that is because you are so amazing people admire you or so disruptive that people can’t stand you. What you don’t want to do is be in the middle of those two extremes and have no-one notice you at all.
There are advantages and disadvantages to being noticed, however you achieve that. What is pretty clear is that you don’t want not to be noticed. What’s the point?
I’m rightly and frequently criticized for celebrating the trouble-maker… for making the rule-breaker into some kind of hero. But I agree that just because one challenges the status quo does NOT mean they’re helping. And just because one has bold, risky ideas doesn’t mean those ideas are good. Sometimes a rule-breaker, non-team-playing upstart is simply… a pain in the ass. But too many managers appear too threatened to figure out whether their trouble-maker is the one person who can really push things forward, or the one who simply thrives on being disruptive.
There are no guarantees, of course. Especially now. But while in the past the safest move was to keep your head down and stay off any radars… being a good little trooper… that’s no longer any more likely to help you keep your job. If you’re on nobody’s radar, you’ve probably got nobody defending you like a tiger to their boss. In either case, the freedom to push for what you believe in, and to challenge the status quo is a lot more stimulating than deciding to just not care.
Although this post is rooted in a discussion about where you may position yourself while employed, it is particularly applicable to those of you who are venturing out into the world to make your mark, have people notice your business and retire hideously wealthy to some beach somewhere where you can order cocktails with those little umbrellas.
Playing it safe is not going to get you anything but a nice big comfort zone which could be turned upside down at any moment. In fact, there is simply no such thing as "safe", only the misleading illusion of "safe". Ironically, sticking your neck out there may be a "safer" bet. As Kathy points out:
If everyone is a lot more expendable today, and we ALL are "short-timers" whether we know it or not, we might as well act like short-timers by taking the risks we were too afraid to make before. It probably won’t make us any less at risk, and today… it might even make us safer.