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?