5.11. How Our Egos Get in the Way of Social Change

Our faith in ourselves can actually backfire, when it comes to coming together and making the world a better place.

A lot of people misunderstand what their role will be in creating real social change.

Let’s be honest: we all tend to have a fairly high opinion of ourselves.

We aren’t necessarily egomaniacs. But most of us think we have above-average intelligence, compassion, and integrity.

And hey, maybe you actually are above-average in all those categories.

But our faith in ourselves can actually backfire, when it comes to coming together and making the world a better place.

That’s because when we believe we’re above-average in our capabilities…we expect we’re going to be above-average when it comes to social change.

We expect that whatever the right solution turns out to be…our above-average intelligence and integrity will lead us to recognizing it, before most other people do.

We imagine we’re going to be a leader…or an innovator…or at the very least, an early supporter.

But let’s not forget that in any substantive movement, regardless of whether it’s a step in the right direction, the rank-and-file are going to be far more numerous than the leaders.

In a time when the population of the U.S. is 325 million, and the population of the world is 7.5 billion…you need tens of millions of supporters at a bare minimum to have any hope of getting something accomplished—and only a few of those people are going to have leadership positions.

But it’s a struggle to accumulate those numbers…because there are so many people out there who aren’t content to simply be a follower.

We assume that when the right solution presents itself, we’ll be one of the first to recognize it. As a result, we conclude that if there’s a proposed solution out there that too many other people are already pushing…there must be something wrong with it.

If there’s already an established leadership, and already a bunch of people onboard…it just doesn’t feel right to us.

So even though there are a lot of people passionate about social change out there, we aren’t able to accomplish nearly as much as we’d like to.

That’s why there are so many redundant, overlapping, small movements out there, instead of a big one.

That’s why many of these movements are hamstrung by internal power struggles.

That’s why we’re constantly getting in each other’s way, and failing to work together as cohesively as we could.

Because of our egos.

We’d rather be an important part of something small, than a small part of something important.

I’m not trying to stifle anybody’s genius here…but have you ever really considered that you won’t be on the front lines of whatever makes the world a better place?

Have you ever considered that maybe your role will simply be to be an ordinary supporter?

No matter how awesome you are, the odds are about 1 in a million that you’re going to be at the top of the organizational pyramid.

So don’t dismiss all the great work that’s already being done by existing movements, just because they aren’t perfect, or aren’t willing to make you their king or queen.

Have the humility, open-mindedness, and courage to simply be an ordinary supporter.


This is the 87th in a series of over 150 videos about how to create real, lasting social change. Click here for a list of all titles, videos, and transcripts.

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