In my Bloomberg Businessweek that summarized 2011, there is a multi-page article about all the protesting and rioting that happened this year. At the end of it were three interviews by police officers who were present in London, Athens, and Vancouver. What struck me as a great statement of what happened in many of these cities came from a Lieutenant in the Hellenic Police: “Still, every time we are faced with such situations, we are disappointed by the way certain small groups take advantage of the peaceful rallies to manifest their rage against us.”
The theme for the London, Athens, and Vancouver riots seemed to be that a small group of instigators using an opportunity to blow things out of control, bringing in all kinds of people who might never have thought they would riot to begin with.
We know this as, “It only takes one to ruin it for everyone.”
No group is immune from this. It takes one bad businessman to drag the whole business world through the mud; it also takes one gunshot at a protest camp to remove “peaceful” from the description of the demonstration.
One can also change the world.
There is an interesting balance between the force of an individual versus the force of a group. In each instance, there is always a group, it just depends on if there is a leader. It is the difference between thinking about “how can I make a change” or whether a “them” will always be in the way.
Steve Jobs is an excellent example of the power of one. One man helped technology to create industries, not just change them. However, he did it with thousands of employees to help drive execution. Then there are the millions of fans and brand loyalists. They also helped this one man. Jobs may have been a striking individual, but he found others who could help move his vision forward.
Are you passive or active? Are you a victim or a survivor? Do you follow or inspire?
If it only takes one to ruin it, don’t be that one. If it takes one to change the world, think of what you can do.
Find other ones, ones who are there to help and drive change, and see the possibilities.