I’m 41. I spent the first 15 years of my career being “below”: just doing, trying to get ahead: get promoted, head-down ‘just doing‘; waiting around for the so-called leaders to make change, relying on them, not taking risks – that was too scary for me… and I would wait around & wait around some more, and then it’s kind of like: S***, we’re in the same mess we were before; nothing’s changed. And for me, it was more than frustrating. And then I would complain, and blame: “It’s their fault.” “They are the problem.” It was just a vicious cycle. And the status quo would prevail.
So, maybe all these experts had it wrong with change and leadership.
Y’all know where I’m coming from on this now… and it was through this accidental project called, ‘Story Leaders’ that changed my perspective. Everyone seems to be an expert on leadership, and everyone has an opinion. And it seems like everyone is talking to the people at the “top” (our so-called leaders) and we all expect to feel “it” from the top. We’re even waiting on Election Day to find out which so-called “Leader” is going to affect change.
Screw the top. Its not top down — maybe it never has been, and never will be… maybe it’s bottom-up; the power of one: anyone: maybe it looks more like this: 1 -> 2, 2 -> 4, 4->16, etc., and maybe it’s more like the shifting of a herd of animals (it’s the animal on the outside that senses the prey/threat of the predator, not the pack leader), it’s the shirtless, dancing lone nut on the hill who was first ridiculed, but after the first follower, started a movement… Its all the same stuff. Anyone can start a movement/can make change happen… if you believe and if you can share the story of why change is needed.
I love Seth Godin….I thought I would share his take on this:
Coming from a loud place
Despite your instincts, almost all big change, almost all important organizations, almost all the stuff that matters doesn’t get launched big, from the loud place, on the front page of the paper or on the Super Bowl or on a popular blog.
No, the stuff that changes everything starts on the fringe, captures the imagination of a dozen, who bring along colleagues or friends, and then it’s a hundred and then…
Make whatever list you want: Twitter, Kiva, 500px, Pure Food and Wine, Jiro… They all became hits without being anointed by the loud folks first.
Instead of cajoling your way into the spotlight, consider investing in the experience first.
And, I cannot get Brene Brown out of my mind (I posted about her last week). When I met her, she reminded me about change:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the person who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errors, who comes short again and again.
And when she said that, I was like: “Oh my god, how great is she?!?” But then she said, “That is not mine, that was from Theodore Roosevelt’s famous speech: Citizenship in a Republic.
And, if you haven’t seen the Lone Nut clip, the whole story of how a movement happens (i.e. change) unfolds in 3 minutes: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/derek_sivers_how_to_start_a_moveme…
Just watching this clip, or hearing Brene talk about vulnerability & courage, or reminding myself of Roosevelt’s famous quote, inspires me…. big stuff.
Those on the outside of the pack are the ones that shift the direction of the herd. The “pack leader” is buffered, protected, safe in the middle – and rarely see things coming.
Leadership is over-rated. Change doesn’t happen at the top. It happens on the fringe, by the “ones”.