The dancing man can teach us a little about social change too!

The “dancing man” video has been extensively used in leader development trainings. The narration provided by Derek Sivers provides an account of how a single person can lead and encourage others to follow. As I read the texts this week I couldn’t help but be reminded of the dancing guy and the fact that he can provide a valuable lesson in social change too.

The dancing man is a classic example of social change. The movement takes place in front of our very eyes. I can’t help but quote my mom here because when she is trying her best to be nice uses the term “original thinker”. In my opinion, the dancing guy was definitely an “original thinker” and inspired others to join his movement. For example, he started dancing alone and nobody would join him. However, he had one individual buy-in to activities. After that first follower he had a smaller group that was willing to buy-in and he instantly had change champions that were willing to further his movement. By the end of the video nobody wanted to be sitting anymore – they all wanted to be dancing. This is an example of how the culture can be altered from its original form.

This example reinforces the notion that change agents cannot operate alone. If it weren’t for the followers the dancing man would have never accomplished his social movement and changed the culture. The message for me is that sometimes being an agent for change also requires us to be courageous followers and coalition builders.

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