I listened to Billy Bragg today and these words struck a chord.
“If no one seems to understands
Start your own revolution, cut out the middleman”
It’s a great song and you can listen here.
Start Your Own Revolution
Like Billy says, cut out the middleman. Too often it seems people think someone, or some group is “on it”. Meaning, we see a problem and our first thought is that there must be some (government/non-profit) organization focused on addressing that problem. Not so.
Virtually every problem we have today is not being solved. I’m serious. The achievement gap? Not even close. Reducing waste in our landfills? Just getting started. Creating a better startup community in Madison? Huge opportunities for improvement.
So what can you do?
First, watch this video. Watch to the end, it’s only 3 minutes.
The first guy didn’t set out to create a movement. He was merely being the change he wanted to be. The early joiners also were not out to create a movement. These people were all acting very locally, yet eventually it became a movement. It is not possible to predict what will cause large scale change. It is also not necessary to plan large scale change in order to create it. This is due to non-linearity.
Ok, that’s the basic point. Huge change can occur from your simple actions. You don’t know what actions will cause that change, but unless people ACT, we know change won’t happen.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – Dr. Seuss
So, what can you do?
Be a “leader”
I’m not talking about the traditional view of leadership, I’m saying be the change you want to see (said by Ghandi?) For example, if you are concerned about the achievement gap in our schools, become a tutor. Want more people to compost? Help your neighbors and friends start composting. There is a LOT you can do and by being what you want, you are a leader. Start today.
Be a “joiner”
Keep your eyes and ears peeled for things you can get behind, and then get behind them – like the second and third guys in the video, they are super important to the change that occurred. The initial joiners are showing the way just as much as that first guy. Once the group becomes big enough, those less confident can join without the worry of sticking out – because at some point it becomes the thing to do.
When you get behind something, for example if you become a tutor, let others know about your actions. The dancers didn’t need to worry about this – they were dancing out in the open, but that isn’t always the case. Your friends have similar interests as you, so make sure you tell them about what you are doing – you’ll likely pick up a few other joiners and who knows, create a movement? Do not join quietly.
Early this spring I was thinking about how it would be great if more people in Madison raised chickens, made their own sauerkraut, gardened, composted, and whatnot. Lucky for me, I found a few early joiners in my idea. Without them, Madison FoodCamp would not have happened. Currently, I’m trying to get some early joiners in other cities to have their own FoodCamps. I’ve been advertising to my friends and I have a few nibbles, now I just need to cultivate some early joiners and who knows what might happen?
Big change, small change, it’s worth a shot.