Revolution. It’s cleansing. It’s scary. It’s awesome.
The wonderful thing is you can start your own.
Revolution is that point in time when a critical mass of people get fed up with some kind of pervasive crap and collectively decide to do something about it. That “something” is usually scary, somewhat extreme, painful, brave, and life-altering.
The American Revolution. Occupy Wall Street. Civil Rights. Wakeup Startup. Revolutions large and small. They all center around a pile of crap, some fed-up people, a cause, and a spark.
When run correctly, a revolution can bring about fundamental societal change. When run poorly, a revolution can bring about fundamental societal change. It cuts both ways folks. The good news is you can start your own revolution pretty easily providing you can galvanize people around a few critical things.
Identify a Pile of Crap
To start a successful revolution, you first have to find a big pile of crap. It has to be something that’s not working in the system. From income inequality to tyrrany and unequal treatment to stupidity there are plenty of piles of crap to choose from.
Pick the one that upsets you the most. The more unfair or inefficient the crap centers around, the better. Be able to name it (“I’m really mad about how much time and effort we waste talking about building startups in Columbus but never really making big things happen.” or “I don’t appreciate Group A having one set of rules while Group B has to abide by another.”). You have to explain what’s wrong in the first place in order to build a revolution around it.
Find Fed-Up People
If you’re the only one rallying behind a cause, you look like a whiny, irrational lunatic and the only change that you’ll bring will be the reduction of your social circle. For a revolution to work, you need the masses. Social media makes it easier than ever to find those disenfranchised masses.
Reach out and explain your pile of crap and why it’s wrong or unfair. If enough people also believe it to be unfair, you’ll have the beginnings of the angry mob you need to launch a revolution. Let people know who else is joining the revolution too (like we’re trying to do on our Wakeup Startup eventbrite invite).
Define Your Cause
The mob needs to know what you’re building toward if you expect them to commit to the cause. You can’t just run around and say “I’m angry about this pile of crap.” You must also define what you want the future state to look like. “No taxation without representation” and other clear, simple ways of articulating a desired endstate will keep the mob’s activities focused.
This is why Occupy Wall Street is foundering at the moment. There are too many piles of crap, many fed-up people, but no galvanizing endstate or cause that people can rally behind. My prediction: unless that cause emerges soon, the movement will lose steam, lose credibility, disband, and be an interesting footnote in history. If a clear, actionable cause does emerge, you’d better watch out because that sucker is going to slam the economic world order like a tidal wave
If you’re the leader of the revolution, it’s incumbent upon you to define that future vision. A good place to start is defining the anti-crap. For example, if you think the tax system is unfair, propose a fairer tax system. If you’re fed up with too much talk and not enough action/building in the entrepreneurship arena in your city (like I am), define a goal of building a culture of less talk and more building. You as the leader must define the endstate.
Light a Spark
Gladwell would consider this the tipping point. You need that one seminal event or one influential voice to get the unsure masses to join the mob.
For every really angry person who’s already a member of the mob, there are dozens of others who are mildly disenfranchised/upset but they won’t take action until they know it’s safe. That safety comes in the form of hundreds or thousands of others joining the cause alongside them or some influential voice coming out and saying it’s okay to revolt.
Again, as the leader, you have a responsibility to either be that spark or find someone else who can be one. Recruit a star. Lead a protest. Promote an event that shows people you’re serious about revolution (again, by way of a small revolution example, check out what we’re doing with Wakeup Startup). That spark can detonate the powder keg of discontent which then unleashes your revolution.
If you want to lead that revolution, there’s no reason you can’t. Just make sure you’re clear about the cause and even clearer about who you are and what you stand for as a leader (which can be learned with a little effort on your part).
You Say You Want a Revolution…
If you’re really fed up about something, you have three choices – suck it up, complain, or do something. The first two are no fun. The third can change the world.
Realize that being a revolutionary comes with a price tag. You could become an outcast. People will call you names. In extreme cases, you’ll get shot. The pile of crap you seek to tackle must be worth the price you’re willing to pay (and that you ask members of the mob to pay). If the prize isn’t big enough, you’ll quickly find yourself standing alone in front of 1,000 Redcoats with muskets. If the prize is big, however, you’ll have 10,000 compatriots running those Redcoats off your shores.
Are you a revolutionary? Are you willing to lead the next revolution? Because there are plenty of causes in need of a leader like you…
– To make who you are as a leader completely transparent, grab yourself a copy of One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership. CLICK HERE to get your copy.
If you’re passionate about REALLY building startups and creating an entrepreneurial culture that says less and does more, come join our new little revolution here in Columbus called Wakeup Startup.