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What Would You Do to Build A Movement?

That’s the question I find swirling around in my head these last few days. What would you do to build a movement?

Derek Sivers points out in just over 3 minutes some key ingredients:

  • You need a leader with the guts to stand out and be ridiculed.
  • A follower needs to have the guts to stand up, join in, and show others how to follow.
  • The leader must embrace the follower and they become a “them.” (Ironically, the first follower transforms someone who could just be perceived as nutty into a leader.)
  • New followers join in, it becomes less risky, and you hit a tipping point in building a movement building.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a really big stage and some celebrity status that catapults your issue to the top of everyone’s news feed. Emma Watson’s UN speech calling for men to step forward, be seen, and speak up through the HeForShe movement is just a recent example. I’ve heard that same call and witnessed men stepping forward, being seen, and speaking up. Part of me desperately wishes that I could get Emma to come here and shine some spotlight in their direction. Kudos to those celebrities that are posting their commitment selfies – please maintain that commitment. In some circles, the non-celebrities that we see in our everyday lives are the ones that get new followers to join in, make standing up less risky, and helping to reach that tipping point in building a movement.

Sacrifice feels that a key ingredient. Chris Satullo’s confession about his conflicted, addiction-like relationship to football seemed genuine and heartfelt. How do you balance your allegiance to a league that may not hold the same values and standards that you proudly hold? Do you have to give it up? What does it say about you when you don’t?

We must remember to honor all those who are outside of the limelight when they take action to build a movement. Not the leaders of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, but the unnamed thousands who walked for over a year. Not the world leaders discussing climate change, but the hundreds of thousands who took to the streets to be seen. In my work at A Woman’s Place (AWP), I honor those stuffing envelopes, answering calls 24 hours a day, encouraging young children to make healthy choices, and lacing up their shoes to gather together to walk or run in the name of safety and empowerment.

I suppose there is a science to movement building. The academic in me would research and study it. But, I think it may start with one key question.

What would you do?

Ifeoma U. Aduba
Executive Director

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