There is something intensely appealing about revolutionary figures.
Their vision of a very different world often has a certain sex appeal that captivates our imagination. The sheer notion of shaking things up, fomenting rebellion, kicking those rascal outs, reinventing an industry or whatever clarion call the revolutionary rallies around can be deeply inspiring and plainly seductive.
The revolutionary may tap into real oppression or the zeitgeist of restless frustration. They may play on our aspirations or merely our desire to eschew the conventional and confront the status quo.
When we think about seismic changes in the world, innovations that redefined the business landscape, breakthroughs in scientific understanding, fundamental shifts in the way we experience the human condition or the redefinition of art, it’s hard not to attach the name of a revolutionary. Mandela and King. Bezos and Jobs. Galileo and Hawking. Gandhi and Pope Francis. Pollock and Cobain.
Of course, some revolutionaries are far more useful than others.
There are the revolutionaries who merely tap into fear. In their world, anyone who doesn’t see things as they do is an enemy who must be thwarted.
There are the revolutionaries who are really just critics re-branded. They find it easy to point out what isn’t working and to carefully label the “idiots” and the “losers” they deem responsible.
There are the revolutionaries who are long on vision, but short on details; whose sails are filled with the bluster of righteous indignation but who sorely lack the power of enduring human connection.
It IS useful to define the opposition and to draw clear lines. Calling out what we don’t like is a start. Throwing down the gauntlet can certainly command attention. Yet while anger may get us started, its utility as a means of sustaining fuel is highly questionable.
To be a useful revolutionary you need more than a picture of what isn’t. To be a useful revolutionary you need more than a list of enemies and a bloviating side-show. And you’ll need a whole lot more than a call to “take our country back” or a pitch deck that has “disruptive” in every other sentence.
You say you want a revolution? Well, we’d love to see your plan.