Friday, 18 June 2010

The second person on the dancefloor is the hero

Are you a leader, a first-follower or happiest when part of the crowd?
You walk into a club and the music is banging but no one is dancing. You are really feeling it and desperate to leap onto the floor and throw your body round in uninhibited abandon.
Do you think "Ah sod it" and make the most of having so much space to jump round? Or do you stand watching - wishing someone else was dancing and then, when one lone soul arrives on the floor, do you join them or do you wait until many more have followed his lead before you dance?

You arrive at the opening of a new shop, keen to be one of the first 100 to receive a free gift. There's no one else queueing yet. Do you start the queue or do you walk around the block until someone else has started the queue or do wait until there is a small queue and you are able to blend in behind it?
There's a new fashion for collarless shirts. You like the trend but no one you know is wearing it yet. Will you be the first or will you wait until a couple of your mates take the lead? Or will you wait until its a common choice? 
In a community, 90% want to be mainstream. Their security comes when they feel they are part of the human pack and they know how they are expected to behave.
They know the rules and even the rule breakers are happy because they consider themselves to be the retrogrades of the group but still identify themselves as being within that group.
The other 10% pursue security while being sincere to their instinct. They don't seek to be different from the group and are content to follow the group's rules if it matches their own but they can not function if it is against their sense of right and wrong. This is based on a gut feeling more than logic.
They may start the dancing because they just have to move with the beat or they will spontaneously combust.

They may start the queue, because they are really keen to get the free gift and they may be the first to wear the collarless shirt, just because they like it. They are prepared to stand out and set themself up for ridicule if that's what it takes for them to be able to follow their instinct. The second person to join them on the dancefloor, join the queue and wear the shirt is the brave one. This person is often from the crowd and prepared to step out of the crowd to join the first person. The second person is saying to the crowd, come on - it's fine. We can do this.
In this video, Derek Sivers illustrates how human's respond and highlights how it isn't necessarily the
first person in the queue, on the dancefloor or wearing the new style that is a leader of something new. It's the next few people who join in and encourage others to do the same who make the difference. One person on their own can just be a weirdo. A few people make it a collective of value.

Notice Derek's theory that after a good proportion of the crowd have joined the activity, others join in because they want to be part of the larger group, which is no longer the seated group but the dancing group.
This insight has been used by marketeers, religious leaders and politicians for years but it's fun to stand back and get an idea of just how we react and which part we role in a community be it at work, play or within our family.  
Big up for the second person on the dancefloor. You are the unsung hero.

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