Recently I’d been observing people closely, and thinking about what they are trying to do when they say “we want change (to the existing system)”.
What I mean by “observation” is that I check their behaviour for “consistency”. And I found out that there are six types of such people.
Notice I use the word “say” they want change, because sometimes, talk is very cheap.
At other times however, talk is not cheap.
So here are the six types of people who say that they want change:
- People who really feel strongly about a particular cause, join the establishment and change from within;
- People who really feel strongly about a particular cause, set up their own establishment and seek to complement the flaws of the existing one by peacefully co-existing side-by-side;
- People who really feel strongly about a particular cause, set up their own establishment and seek to influence the existing one by “rocking the boat but not sinking it”;
- People who really feel strongly about a particular cause, set up their own establishment and seek to destroy the current. “Replacement” is a polite way of putting it;
- People who don’t really feel strongly about a particular cause. In fact, they are sort of indifferent to change. But the current system irritates them so they might voice out their concerns intermittently. However, the current system is still bearable to them.
- People who might initially feel strongly about a particular cause, but along the way get lost in the sea of “attention” and “perceived popular affection”. From the very start, such people don’t really want change–what they are after is attention to feed their narcissism. The end goal is not verifiable results, it is attention.
I can tell you upfront that I belong to group 3. However, I don’t always make my goals known.
Interestingly, if you think about it, all six groups act on behalf of a particular interest group.
So the difference between “self-serving” and “not self-serving” is the extent to which you can find a group which represents your values.
I think the challenge in life is to differentiate between people who are of groups 2/3 and group 6. Group 6 people are hardly constructive at all, because all they think about is themselves and the attention they get.
In other words, they don’t get things done in a verifiable manner and basically just make a lot of noise.
Let me give you an example.
Let’s say you belong to a minority group. You have been a victim of racism. What would you do?
If you think your situation is bearable, then you won’t do anything. If however, you won’t stand for it, then you’d set up your own establishment or speak up.
However, when you speak up for it, this “speaking up” must be motivated by a desire for change that can be measured in verifiable terms. This is just perfectly logical.
If speaking up is for “awareness”, then “awareness” must be measured in numbers. If not it’s just voodoo.
People belonging to group 4 will never work together with folks who opt to belong to groups 1-2 in the longer term. They might however work well with people from group 3 and perhaps 5.
People who opt for group 4 however tend to be led by an extremely visionary and charismatic leader. Which obviously is dangerous not only to the current establishment but to society in general. So group 4 will consistently face violent resistance by the current establishment.
And I think there are two types of group 4 people: smart visionaries and silly narcissists. Silly narcissists cannot get a lot of things done as well, because it is a case of silly new Group 4 full of narcissists VS current establishment. Obviously it takes a really narcissistic leader with an overly inflated ego to even believe that they can topple the current establishment.
So the visionary leader had better be smart. In fact, he should keep quiet and low profile more often and just work quietly towards his end goal. Because once he gets attention he’d face immediate opposition. So this attention should be used purposefully.
Group 6–the “act passionate but is in reality attention-seeking folks–are harmless people, albeit irritating. Yet in spite of this, I’d still not use the word “self-interested” to describe people from Group 6. I’d instead say that they are not “far-sighted”.
Actually, it’s all very simple. At the end of the day, just be true to yourself and measure what you want in verifiable terms.
Before trying to say that you want change, know your heart and the desired outcome. Haters will hate anyway, but when they do, it’s a confirmation of you having a good brand.
For good brands will always polarize.
So at the end of the day, let us just let verifiable results speak for themselves. There’s no need to argue. =)
The real activists are in fact the quietest, for loose lips sink ships.