Archive for July 2011
It takes more than a costume. But a costume is a start.
I watched Kick-Ass the other night. It had been on my list for some time, I just wasn’t sure I could handle mayhem and gore in the service of comedy. Turns out I could and did. It’s sort of a naïve movie: kid with no superpowers wants to take on the villains. Which he does, to disastrous personal effect. This got me thinking about the costs of moving our dreams into real life.
But first: my definition of leadership is likely different from yours. I’m starting to think of a leader as anyone who shows others a way forward. The leader I’m thinking of is more likely in the ranks than the spotlight. I’m not thinking of the glib vice-president with the bully pulpit of corporate position. I’m thinking of the quiet leader. I’m thinking of the driver who let me merge with a smile and a nod. That guy changed my day.
These four lessons could apply to anyone leading from within their ranks.
- Tell people what you are about. Maybe find a name or title that commands attention (or at least grabs people by the…well, throat). This is about staking an identity—so name what it is you are trying to do. Tell your dream out loud in a short way others can understand. And then suffer the consequences. Scrawny every-teen Dave Lizewski chose “kick-ass,” which is both aspirational and a slap in the face to any he said it to. Kinda genius.
- Take action. In public. Dave Lizewski began by wondering aloud why no regular people tried this work of superhero fighting crime. Soon he wasn’t content just trying on the costume and practicing Ninja moves in front of the mirror—he had to go out and do it. A knife to the gut and a few quick beatings helped him see why no regular folks did this work. But the point is that he started something that others would see. And as he failed he also succeeded (from time to time). That was the pattern and he stuck with it.
- Get comrades. It’s all comic book stuff, so no surprise Dave Lizewski was found by other real (fake) superheros. What was surprising was how well-equipped these real (fake) superheroes were with guns, ammo and know-how enough for a small army. In real life this looks like finding others doing the same thing and somehow linking with them. Or at the very least starting a conversation with them. Writers join writing groups for this reason. Civil war reenactors fight for the confederacy again and again for this reason.
- Go for love and be surprised by duty. Too often it is duty that moves me forward and love is somewhere in the background. But our teen hero started for love of justice and continued for love (or was it lust?) for the comely young woman. But the pull of duty called him back in the end when he could have walked away.
Kick-Ass is a comic book set in real life with (occasional) real life results. It’s entertaining like watching an accident happen, but the movie is strangely unforgettable. And it made me want to be more bold and public with the things I’m trying to do.
Some time ago there was an anthropologist who lived for a long while with a North American tribe. It was a small group of about fifty people. The hunter-gatherers have typically lived in groups of twenty to forty. Agricultural group units are much larger . Now, from time to time that tribe met like this in a circle. They just talked and talked and talked, apparently to no purpose. They made no decisions. There was no leader. And everybody could participate. There may have been wise men or wise women who were listened to a bit more–the older ones–but everybody could talk. The meeting went on, until it finally seemed to stop for no reason at all and the group dispersed. Yet after that, everybody seemed to know what to do, because they understood each other so well. Then they could get together in smaller groups and do something or decide things.”
–Bohm, On Dialogue (p. 19)
Image Credit: 2headedsnake, jeremie decalf
Our limitations lead us to ask, but then drop us until ask is met with answer.
Waiting is the reexamination mill through which motive, intent, goal and dream are ground into a gray paste to be reconfigured and reissued—or tossed. It’s a necessary process. Part of the human condition. No one escapes waiting.
Seeking while waiting is key. Seeking with others who also wait is even better.
Image Credit: Typeverything