How to Start a Movement, Part II

Last week, I shared a video from TED about how to start a movement.

This Tuesday, my wife and I went to see the new movie Cyrus, and I watched the exact same principle unfold again. See for yourself (the clip is less than two minutes long, and it’s funny):

As with the TED video, John C. Reilly’s character demonstrates the guts of a leader by taking to the dance floor before any of his fellow party-goers were ready to join in. He could have crashed and burned — but Marisa Tomei’s character saves him, and starts to seed a movement by becoming his first follower. This gives the leader credibility — but only because he embraces her as an equal, which creates the space for others to join in as well. And then, sure enough, and shortly thereafter, a tipping point occurs and the whole energy of the party shifts.(Thank you once again, Human League.)

The scene has all the essential conditions of what defines a successful movement: a brave leader, a first follower who is embraced as an equal, and then, once the third and fourth people join in, a shift in the environmental conditions occurs that allows others to feel safe enough to join in as well. The clip is also a reminder that while it takes a leader to break the seal and roll back the rug at a house party, the first person to join in is really the one who seeds the possibility of a truly memorable evening.

In our field of public education, who, I wonder are the leaders capable of inducing first followers to start something bigger — and do so by embracing them as equals? And which first followers are most likely to bring others to a party (i.e., transformational movement in public education) that is actually FUN, assets-based and productive, and not, like so many current conversations in the field, depressing, deficit-based, and cartoonish in their simplicity?

Categories: Democracy, Leadership, News of the Weird, Organizational Change

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One Comment

  1. Julie
    Posted July 17, 2010 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

    Great clip. Time to rediscover the fun that is learning and discoverying the passion in following our curiousities. Of course, it helps to be Marisa Tomei and it is a great song, but education has those great songs and Marisa Tomei-like characters, we just need to hear the music again! Listen, I hear a great song. . .

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