By Kit Shepherd
“To go fast, go alone. To go far, go together”
I love this saying, not only for its linguistic symmetry and catchy rhythm, but because it pulls us up short with a hard-hitting message!
In this age of speed, efficiency and technological accuracy, we are certainly encouraged to go fast. And at times it feels like one can go faster by not having the inconvenient interruptions of other people, with their different paces and agendas. Besides, what a great achievement it is to complete a task alone, on one’s own terms, in charge of the whole process.
But – as the adage indicates – solitary achievement can be hollow. Working alone can even be regarded as failure if a person is unable to get others on board with a project or plan.
There’s a scene in one of the short films we have shown at Film & Feast: First Follower: Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy by Derek Sivers. It is about leadership and starting a movement, and makes the point that the real leader is the second person to join a movement.
“There is no movement without the first follower. We’re told we all need to be leaders, but that would be really ineffective. The best way to make a movement, if you really care, is to courageously follow and show others how to follow. When you find a lone nut doing something great, have the guts to be the first person to stand up and join in.”
There’s something interesting and paradoxical here: the second person – the first follower – has to have the courage to step up, alone, to join the one who leads. By being the solo one who steps up to support the original ‘nut’, they demonstrate support in a powerful way, which serves as an example and paves the way for a community of followers
This magical dynamic of humans engaging with each other, and following the gesture of loyalty demonstrated before them, brings real momentum to the power of a community. In other words, we get inspired by each other and drawn into the wake of other peoples’ efforts. This might explain why I get such a buzz from working closely with others, particularly on self-chosen tasks – as all of us volunteers do in Transition Bondi’s steering group.
We have a reverberating effect on the people around us, like in the net of Indra in Buddhist and Hindu cosmology. The net has a multi-faceted jewel at each knot; each jewel is reflected in all the other jewels.