The Forgotten Power of Leadership

I‘m always surprised when people don’t grok the concept of leadership. I don’t know why but I seem to regularly “get it” on an instinctual basis. So it’s like having a sixth sense. It baffles me when others don’t share that sense experience with me.

What do I mean by leadership? Leadership is not about electing or appointing people to give orders that others are obligated to follow. Leadership is about stepping forward when everyone else wants to step back. It’s about putting your neck out there with an idea and a plan of action. It’s about following through on that plan – with action! It’s about showing others how their impossible dreams actually are possible, and now. Leadership is entirely voluntary and mutual. You can have as many leaders as you want and only pay as much attention to each as you desire. You can be a leader to as many people as you can honestly manage to satisfy.

Leadership is a service and it is provided in a marketplace. Leadership is essential to our quest for freedom and justice. Without it, we are simply a slew of individuals in the same physical, mental or spiritual space. With it, we can be an organized mastermind (see Napolean Hill) working wonders beyond the mere sum of our individual parts.

To the rugged atomizer individualists who say, “Poppycock!” to any talk of people working together mutually with other individuals towards a common goal, I offer this quote as my final thought on the relationship between the individual and the group:

“We can­not live only for our­selves. A thou­sand fibers con­nect us with our fel­low men.” -Her­man Melville

This one is also relevant:

“It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.” – Napolean Hill

How to Develop Leadership?

But if you don’t feel like a leader, how do you develop the leadership sense? Find something you really care about. An issue, a person, a country, a world. Research the issue. Make sure you care about it a lot. How much? So much so that you can’t imagine not neutralizing the threat. Start writing about it. You will find other, like-minded individuals. Now talk to them about what can be done. Collect ideas. Keep searching for your own inspiration. Take a shower, go for a run or do whatever else gets your creative brain into gear.

Now do something. Start small. Build up. Take risks. But make sure you know your risk profile. Don’t go overboard early on in a search for internet fame. This is a long term struggle. It’s a game of chess. Take it slowly and think (a lot) before acting.

But, whatever you do, don’t fall into the trap of thinking individual action alone is enough. It simply is not. Don’t kid yourself. Did Gandhi make the British Empire step back on all his lonesome? No. He put his leadership out there and worked with millions of people. Did Martin Luther King or Malcolm X or Rosa Parks achieve their victories all on their own? Absolutely not! It took many many people working together in concerted action with a leadership marketplace.

Sure, it takes an individual spark or sparks to start a fire. Such as what Rosa Parks did. Such as what Julian Heicklen does. And that is leadership! But it’s not enough. Where would Rosa Parks be without the many who joined her? Where would Julian Heicklen be without the videographers, the call flooders and the journalists?

So when I post something like this to my Facebook profile:

If someone hasn’t already organized an effort to boycott movie theaters (over SOPA) then one of my anarchist comrades should do it.

And get responses like these:

George, to boycott them assumes we are currently going to see movie now! lol It’s been well over a year since I’ve been to a theater as too much of what’s make just plain sucks.

I’ve been boycotting theaters for years. I haven’t supported the industry in years.

[And I see this attitude over and over again when working with We Won’t Flyers.]

It’s a little frustrating. I didn’t ask you to be a follower of a boycott or to pound your chest about your years-long boycott. I asked you to ORGANIZE a boycott. I invited you to be a leader. I invited you to build power. Power is what wins political battles. For those of us not in the 1%, that means leadership. It means organizing. It means a lot of smart, but also hard, work. Power will not flow your way until you are willing to earn it. And without power, you can forget about moving your issue forward or protecting a person, a country or a world.

Am I being unreasonable? Am I asking too much? Are some of us born leaders, born persuaders and the rest of us doomed to a secondary status by birth, unable to step forward, unable to muster courage, take risks and persuade others? NO! This is an excuse. Recognize it as such and TRY. Try to be a leader. Keep trying, don’t give up and you will meet with success. If you give up, then I will know that you don’t really care all that much about your issue, your people, your country or your world. Is that what you want others to think of you?

No man is an island. And why would anyone want to be? If you are reading this article, you want a better world. You want more freedom and more justice. Leverage the network effect. Become a leader. Make something happen. Don’t rest on your imaginary laurels. Step up. If you don’t know how – and have a burning desire to be a leader – contact me and I will mentor you.

26 December 2011
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