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Do you consider yourself a thought leader or light bearer? If so, would you like to know the secret to creating a movement around your cause or message?
• Imagine 15-20% of the U.S. population loving your ideas.
• People love them so much, they turn up by the thousands wherever you go, just to hear you share your message one more time.
• When you need money to better educate the world, all you have to do is say the word and within a week or less, people have sent you millions of dollars to get it done.
• You know you can’t spread your message alone, but no worries, your followers are advocates. They willingly volunteer their time, money and energy to spread your message to their friends. They even get online and make videos and create blogs to talk about you and your message.
• They show up when you need them to. They volunteer because your message is so important to them, they can’t sit still.
• When the world calls you crazy, your supporters go to bat for you, taking action in proactive ways.
• You and your message aren’t a passing fad. People follow you year after year in ever-growing numbers.
How is this possible, you ask? It must be a stroke of luck. In my opinion there is no such thing as luck. Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. Much of it is about being at the right time at the right place with the right message. But there’s more to it than that, and there’s much we can learn about creating a movement by dissecting one in progress.
That’s what I intend to do here. You don’t have to agree with the person I use as the example. You don’t have to support him, his movement, or believe in his cause in order to dissect what is working.
The person I speak of has very little charisma or ability to speak eloquently, yet he has made quite a stir with an avid following. It’s true. You don’t have to be a savvy speaker oozing charisma to create a movement! Isn’t that a relief?
Movements are compelling and newsworthy and any compelling story addresses 6 main elements — who, what, why, when, where, and how. I’ll add one more as a bonus. So let’s look at these 7 characteristics of a movement. As we do, think about your own message and your own character traits. How many of these do you possess? In which areas do you need a little work?
The Who is Dr. Ron Paul, OBGYN, Congressman from Texas, and presidential candidate. This is a man who has preached the same message for over thirty years. He’s in his 70’s. He stammers around delivering his message. He stumbles over his words. He preaches his message in a way many might say sounds like a broken record. He’s accused of being dangerous, an idealist and a dreamer.
But there is an important take-away here. Ron Paul lives in complete alignment, in utter congruity with his message. You know what you’re getting. He practices what he preaches even when it’s not popular. He says the same thing to every crowd — even when they boo him. His message never wavers and his voting record never varies.
There is a sense there will be no surprises with this man. You know what you’re getting and you can take his integrity to the bank.
Ask yourself, “How congruent am I with my message?” Are you consistently dependable in word and action? Is your name and reputation synonymous with your message? Do you live it vertically, horizontally and diagonally?
What: Is Your Name Synonymous with One Compelling Message?
What is Dr. Paul’s message? In one word “Liberty.” Specifically, liberty in strictly following the U.S. Constitution. His is a clarion call to return to a 224-year-old document. This is a document with a track-record for creating the greatest free nation in history. When it was followed strictly, it fostered freedom. When the nation veered from it, freedom diminished.
That is Ron Paul’s message. It doesn’t matter if he personally believes in a social agenda, if the U.S. Constitution does not give the Federal government the right to rule upon or make laws about it, then Ron Paul votes against it. He’ll tell you it needs to be handled at an individual, state or local level. It’s not a federal matter.
What is your message? Can you relay it as succinctly as “Liberty” or “Go back to the U.S. Constitution?” Or does it take 5-10 minutes to explain? Do you stand by your message no matter what the personal cost?
On more than one occasion Ron Paul’s declared, “I don’t want to run your life. I don’t know how to run your life. I don’t have the authority to run your life. And the Constitution doesn’t permit me to run your life.” Another time I’ve heard him say concerning the oval office, “I just don’t sit around daydreaming about it, but I’m in the race and I’m in a good race.”
You get the feeling this man cares nothing for power or gain. He lives in a modest rancher-style home that looks like the one my parents purchased in the late 60’s.
So why does Ron Paul do what he does? He could be retired, puttering around in his garden or playing with his grandchildren. Why does he extend himself in what many feel is a hopeless cause? Because he cares about his country and the people in it. He loves liberty, and he wants every American to bask in it. He feels compelled to educate.
How self-serving is your message? Is it all about you and you making money? Or is it about making the world a better place and leaving a legacy? Dig down deep. What are your motives? Are they power and gain? If they are, you might be able to fool yourself, but you won’t fool others for long.
When Should People Act On Your Message?
Timing is everything. And in this instance, the time is now. There is a sense of urgency to Ron Paul’s message. The country is on the brink of another war, impending monetary collapse. Unemployment is rising and people are looking outside the box for a solution that hasn’t been provided by politicians in recent history.
There’s also a sense that this isn’t about a single election. This is a man who sees himself as a teacher, developing a movement. The youth find him enthralling. College campuses overflow when he arrives. Military personnel donate more to his campaign than they do to all the other candidates combined.
Ron Paul is encouraged by this youthful exuberance because it means that even if the adults who embrace the status quo will not accept the message, the rising generation is embracing it and are avid supporters. If the adults let America collapse, the rising generation will know what document to return to when it’s time to rebuild.
Are you creating a sense of urgency around your message? Are you helping people see what will happen if they don’t take action? Are you in this for the long-haul, and do you have a long-term vision?
Where Is Your Message Applied?
The where is America. Ron Paul’s clarion call is to concentrate on our own problems and stop fighting other people’s wars or meddling in other country’s affairs. His message is to focus on protecting our own borders, build our own nation, fix our own economic problems, support our own liberty and let other countries do the same for theirs. As Washington and Jefferson suggested, “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.”
What’s your “where?” Is your message applicable on a regional, national or global level?
How Will You Execute Your Plan?
The “how” is the U.S. Constitution. Return to it, strictly follow it. Dr. Paul also has a plan to cut 1 trillion dollars from the budget in the first year in office. This plan as well as the short U.S. Constitution are downloadable on-line for anyone’s review.
Do you have a plan? Is it documented? How easy is it for people to find it, study and learn about it?
Notice how simple the message is — “liberty.” Notice how simple the method is – “strictly follow the U.S. Constitution and the Founder’s interpretation of it.” The message is simple. Applying it seems complex, primarily because there is so much re-education required. That complexity is what makes many say he’s crazy, a dreamer or downright dangerous.
All of this plays into the success of his movement. When a large segment of the population (or the media) calls you crazy, dangerous or a dreamer, there is another segment of the population who will rally to your cause — especially if you’re conveying a message that strikes at the heart of the deepest craving of their hearts.
Who doesn’t want to be free? Who wants to have someone telling them every move to make? The quest for freedom is older than time itself.
How compelling and relevant is your message? Does it address a primary need of every human heart?
The freedom message strikes at the heart of every enlightened being. When that message is delivered in congruity and opposed by forces that seem bigger and stronger, there are always those who rally around to defend and support.
That brings us to bonus characteristic number 7.
Bonus: Is There Opposition?
The opposition is as important as the hero. Who would Harry Potter be without Voldemort? Who would Dorothy be without the wicked witch? Who would Superman be without Lex Luthor? Who would Colonel Doolittle and his fly-boys be without Japan? A hero is only as strong as his adversary. In our example, you have Ron Paul on one side and the establishment, the media and the status quo on the other. That’s some heavy hitting opposition which lends itself to the creation of a heavy-hitter hero.
Is there opposition to your message? Are there those who would say you’re crazy or that your plan is impossible? Sometimes the opposition is within ourselves or our own families. It can even be nature itself. If you’re not bumping up against some form of opposition, you’re not being bold enough. How can you make your message clearer, bolder, stronger and more consistent? You don’t need to intentionally seek to offend, but if there is no opposition, most likely there’s nothing rallying about your message.
In summary, ask yourself how you can live in 100% congruity with your message. Until you do and have a good start on these other characteristics, your quest to change the world and create a movement will most likely remain elusive.