“See, we’re told to all be leaders, but that would be really ineffective. The best way to make a movement, if you really care, is to courageously follow and show others how to follow…When you find a lone nut doing something great, have the guts to be the first person to stand up and join in.”
Last July, I went back to school. Not very surfy, I know, but from where I’m standing now, it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by ambitious and motivated classmates from all walks of life who inspire me on a daily basis, and exciting ideas seem to be a dime a dozen. They say that what school’s for, and I feel lucky to partake.
I have a lot of thoughts on how school helped restore surfing to a healthy, balanced place in my life compared with its stature beforehand, but for now I wanted to share a TED video we watched last semester about leadership – and how it’s overrated.
This video bears some relevance to what we’re doing with The Inertia, but that’s unimportant – especially compared with the video’s core message, which, in my estimation, is about courage. The video is brilliant, because it illustrates the point humorously, but I think that having the courage to pursue your passions even (and especially) when they’re unpopular is one of the most important elements of a fulfilling life. And surf culture’s obedience to the concept of “cool” hasn’t done it any favors when it comes to thought leadership.
To grossly generalize, it seems that surf culture has become so image conscious that it struggles to accept new ideas. Of course, there are exceptions, but, as a rule, we have too many people just sitting there, scared of being judged. Too aware of (and susceptible to) crowd preferences. That’s no way to be.
I hope this video helps inspire people to feel more comfortable starting movements they believe in – or, better yet, galvanizing nascent movements with which they identify. It’s okay to risk looking stupid. In fact, I encourage it, because once a movement hits a critical mass, people are often participating for all the wrong reasons. The same fear that kept their butt planted in the ground propelled them into the crowd.
So, be the dancing guy in 2012. Better yet, be the second, third, fourth, or fifth dancing guy. Those folks are the real game-changers, because they exercised discretion and had the courage to act on it with the added benefit of context. Just don’t sit there, afraid. And if you sit there, fine, sit there, but you better have a good reason as to why.