Movements, in three parts

Movements and change of any kind depend on three things: the choice to lead, the choice to follow, and the gap in between.

As leaders, the choice to lead is difficult. Nobody gives us permission. Nobody tells us the answer. Leadership requires us to act on our curiosity and conviction, to speak up—or stand up—and point in a new direction.

This would be easy, except for the tricky issue of necessarily being alone in doing so. Nobody else is saying what you’re saying or doing what you’re doing, otherwise they’d be the leader, not you. The problem with choosing to lead is that it doesn’t make you a leader. You don’t get to make that call. All you can do is create the gap.

Ah, the gap. That incredibly tense and awkward period of time during which you’re just a lone nut doing some crazy dance that nobody understands. You’ll look stupid, you’ll wonder whether you made the right decision, and you’ll feel the fear that nobody else will join you. The truth is, they might not. All we can do, if we hope to create a movement, is to stay the course, and keep our commitment to being the lone nut, and leave the invitation open for other people to connect and join in.

We choose to follow someone else only when we connect with the vision that’s been painted for us. If someone has done that jobs and created a precedent that resonates with us, that’s when we make the choice to follow. It is only then that a lone nut becomes a leader, and a movement is born.

Whether it’s the choice to lead, or the choice to close the gap by becoming the first follower, we’re the ones who decide. It’s always up to us.

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