A Short Wildlife Film

Life is still upside down at the moment.  Everything is packed up and ready to go, my apartment is just a computer surrounded by cardboard boxes.  My inbox is overflowing, as is my brain.  A million things to do.  Raptitude posts will be short and sweet until probably July 6.

***

I’m sure some of you haven’t seen this video yet.  It will definitely make you smile, but it did much more than that for me.  If you have seen it, it’s worth another viewing.  I saw it late at night a few weeks ago, forgot it, and then rediscovered it on a blog called Sublime Goodness.  It illustrates one of the dynamics of human society: it’s easy to join a bandwagon, but takes real courage to start one.

(Video removed temporarily because I think it was causing problems for readers using Internet Explorer. You can view it on Sublime Goodness)

I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a clearer illustration of the formation of a movement.  It begins with an individual expressing himself without regard for convention or appearances.  People snicker and point.  But he continues, because he’s not afraid to be himself.  Soon others see the truth and honesty in what he is doing, and want to be a part of it.

Courage, however it manifests, is irresistible to human beings.  We all wish we had it, and we revere it in whomever we find it.  It takes much less courage to be the second one in, and half that again to be the third, and no courage at all to throw yourself into a mob.

By the time there are fifty souls in the mix, people are tripping over each other to be a part of it.  No doubt some of them had been laughing at the guy minutes before.

This is social proof at work.  Most of the people who end up dancing were only in there because there were dozens of others showed them that it was okay first.  I don’t want to read too much into an eccentric dancer at a music festival, but I think it’s clear that most of the people in the mob would not have had the courage or the initiative to be the first one dancing.

It’s scary to do something before the people around you say it’s okay.  The truth is most people will always wait for some kind of permission to do what they feel like.  Doing what everyone else is doing is always safe.  You can see this follower syndrome everywhere: in conversation, in business, in music, decor, dress, hobbies, habits, lifestyles and even aspirations.

I’m learning to identify the sensation of feeling socially ‘safe,’ and to mistrust it.  It can only lead a person down beaten paths.  I want to go somewhere else.

R

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{ 18 Comments }

Marie June 25, 2009 at 1:18 am

That is the first time I’ve seen this video. While I admire the first dancer, I must admit that I admire the second dancer even more. The first dancer is obviously lost in his element but the second dancer made that clear choice to join in.

Lisis June 25, 2009 at 7:36 am

Marie raises an interesting point… I suppose the first few members of any movement or tribe are all relatively brave, taking a chance, and not knowing if the person they are following is a true leader or completely insane. One brave soul can start something, but it will take a few brave souls to feed the momentum that will lead to something big.

David, I wanted to tell you that I’ve seen this video a few times now around the web. What I thought was interesting about your post is that you didn’t go with the traditional commentary angle of, “It just takes ONE person to start a movement.” Instead you recognized the courage it takes to be that first person (or, as Marie mentioned, the first few) and that the “safety in numbers” approach should not necessarily be trusted.

In other words, you took a common topic and put your own Davidesque spin on it. THAT is what I love about Raptitude. Good luck with your transition phase, and remember that it, too, is part of your journey. :)
.-= Lisis´s last blog ..My Favorite Things: An Antidote to Sadness =-.

Lance June 25, 2009 at 7:50 am

Hi David,
This reminds me so much of a quote I posted recently on my site:

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” ~ Steve Jobs

Even if we say we’re one of the crazy ones…are we really? Are we willing to “look like a fool” because it’s what we believe in? And this dance illustrates that so well, but it applies to so much more than just this dance here. Doing that which takes courage, as much as we want to say “yes” that we would do it – would we really? Would I?
.-= Lance´s last blog ..Sunday Thought For The Day =-.

Jay Schryer June 25, 2009 at 8:14 am

This is really, really cool. I like the point that Lance brought up…that so many of us wish we had that kind of courage, but just don’t. I count myself in that group. I wish I had the kind of courage it takes to lead my own movement, but I don’t. I’m working on it constantly, and getting better all the time, but for now, I’m envious of the crazy dancing guy :)

Perhaps some day…
.-= Jay Schryer´s last blog ..Lazy Summer Days =-.

Frances June 25, 2009 at 8:25 am

David,
I’d never seen this video before, so thanks for sharing it. It certainly takes a lot of courage to go against the grain and also to follow the first person to go against it. I know that I’m not really a boat-rocker, so I’d have to say I would probably be one of the last people to join the party. I would however, be the one with the camera who shares that moment with the rest of the world.
.-= Frances´s last blog ..Roller Coasters =-.

Lisis June 25, 2009 at 9:42 am

Frances, that’s a beautiful way to look at it. You, the one with the camera who shares it with the world, are as vital to the movement as that first crazy dancing guy. Were it not for the person who filmed and shared this, none of us would have the chance to learn these lessons.

Maybe life really is a stage, and we’re all actors… but also sometimes stagehands, camera crew, and audience. Bottom line is, we’re in this together. :)
.-= Lisis´s last blog ..My Favorite Things: An Antidote to Sadness =-.

Srinivas Rao June 25, 2009 at 11:13 am

Great post and great video. There is definitely a power in momentum and people are definitely drawn to the courageous and confident.
.-= Srinivas Rao´s last blog ..Guest Post from Alex@Unleashreality: Talented Failures and Making Things Happen =-.

Tim June 25, 2009 at 12:17 pm

David:

Well put. The video speaks volumes about the human condition and serves as a reminder for all of us to march to the beat of our own drum rather than waiting for permission from others. Yes, this takes courage, but all of us can build courage in small steps one day, one blog post, one tweet at a time.

David June 25, 2009 at 12:52 pm

Lots of interesting perspectives here.

Marie — Definitely, but I have to say that I like the first guy’s style best :)

Lisis — The transition phase is slowly grinding along. I only have maybe seventeen things left to do before everything’s normal again.

Lance — That’s a great quote, Lance. I think part of the reason outliers are often given a hard time is because their detractors only wish they could be that courageous. Those who can’t, criticize :)

Jay — I’m starting to think of courage as not so much a trait or an ability that can be improved, but more of a habit. I think people who feel they are not courageous are not short on anything as much as they’re just used to their personal track record of staying out of the spotlight.

Frances — Yes, we’re all lucky that somebody not only filmed it, but thought it was significant enough to share on youtube. I love the information age.

Srinivas — Yeah, it is really amazing to see quite how attracted people are to this little dance party forming. They’re literally leaping over other people to get in there.

Tim — For sure, Tim. Like I was saying to Jay, I’m starting to see courage more as an in-the-moment decision than a trait that needs to be strengthened. At least it’s encouraging to think of it like that :)

Carlos Miceli June 25, 2009 at 10:41 pm

Your writing really impresses me David, it makes me wonder how long have you been writing in your life…

The truth is that it takes more than “guts” to start a movement. I wish every movement was as simple as a dance, but most “society changing” movements, products, events require not only bravery but also intelligence and stupidity. You have to be willing to learn, almost seeking failure. In the end, you have to forget about everyone when everyone’s watching you, which is easier said than done.

But, as you can see, there are no secrets. It’s just a matter of choice. It’s just a matter of balls.

suzen June 26, 2009 at 9:23 am

I applaud courage to do your own thing whatever it is. I don’t think people like the first dancer cared one flip whether people would join him – most people in the midst of their creative reverie aren’t thinking of others, they are just letting the spirit move them. When I see people flocking toward the end to join him, I wonder how many are doing it because the spirit is moving them too, or is it just wanting a sense of belonging to the group?
.-= suzen´s last blog ..Stress and Eating – Why Diets May Not Work? =-.

Brenda June 26, 2009 at 2:53 pm

Okay, David, I’m going to fuss. Ready? I had this video on my blog ten days before Sublime Goodness. You would know that if you had clicked on my Just Dance! link. There. I feel better. :) I keep coming to your site b/c I recognize a unique, nonderivative voice here. Your writing has such clarity and grace and depth. I’m looking forward to following your blog as you embark on this new adventure. Best to you (and no apologies, please!).
.-= Brenda´s last blog ..Toward Gladness =-.

David June 26, 2009 at 3:06 pm

Carlos — Thanks Carlos, I appreciate your writing very much too. I think you are right on: intelligence and stupidity are sometimes a great combination.

Suzen — Yeah it’s not clear exactly what is motivating them, but they certainly weren’t rushing over there when there was only one or two dancers. The same infectious beat had been playing for a few minutes already.

Brenda — Haha, your fuss is noted. I had actually seen this a while ago too but like I said it was late at night and I had forgotten by the next day. I don’t think it was on your blog though, I haven’t read many blogs this month because it’s been so crazy. I think someone probably routed me to it from twitter.

Christopher June 26, 2009 at 8:51 pm

Thanks for the link back to my blog and glad Brenda recognized it’s awesomeness too! I love that video.
.-= Christopher´s last blog ..Maru the Japanese Cat – Famous & Funny =-.

Stephen - Rat Race Trap June 27, 2009 at 9:16 am

David, I loved this video when I first saw it. Seth Godin wrote on article on the third guy to join. He says it was that guy that created the tipping point.

“I’m learning to identify the sensation of feeling socially ’safe,’ and to mistrust it. It can only lead a person down beaten paths. I want to go somewhere else.”

I agree. Safety sucks to be honest.
.-= Stephen – Rat Race Trap´s last blog ..Get High on Life With Enthusiasm =-.

David June 27, 2009 at 5:22 pm

Christopher — Hi Christopher, welcome to Raptitude. I’ve been looking through your recent posts and I’m really liking Sublime Goodness. Thank you for introducing me to Maru the cat too :)

Stephen — When I think about it, I think nothing has caused me as much pain and suffering as the need to feel safe and secure.

Laurie | Express Yourself to Success June 27, 2009 at 9:40 pm

I’ve not seen the video before so I’m glad you shared it. I like going back and forth between being ‘safe’ and ‘out there’ (relatively speaking, of course!) but, for me, it’s most important that I not judge someone else for being safe or for whatever they’re doing ‘out there.’ I find that when judgement is removed, a lot more is ‘safe’ and less is really ‘out there,’ it all just is.
.-= Laurie | Express Yourself to Success´s last blog ..Leadership Communication During Uncertain Times =-.

Nate St. Pierre June 28, 2009 at 1:48 pm

First of all, David, I LOVE the title, hahaha.

@Lisis, I love this quote from you: “Maybe life really is a stage, and we’re all actors… but also sometimes stagehands, camera crew, and audience. Bottom line is, we’re in this together.” You always have such great insight.

@Jay Thanks for the quote – I’m gonna keep that one.
.-= Nate St. Pierre´s last blog ..I’m Not Your Mama Or Your Daddy =-.

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