You can change the world.
Yes, seriously. If you pick one thing that you’d like to change worldwide, and stick to that just one thing, you absolutely have the power to change it.
It is normal to feel that you’re just one human being and that the odds are stacked against you. However, everybody else is also just one human being. There’s absolutely nothing saying that they will prevail and you will lose — quite the opposite, as you have the passion to change something and they usually don’t. Also, more importantly, you will find out that you are not as alone as you might think.
People are attracted to other people who show passion for making a change for the better. You may think you don’t have the leadership skills to lead tens of thousands of people. In particular, you may believe you don’t have the charisma. That’s confusing cause and effect.
You don’t become a good leader because you’re charismatic. You will be perceived as charismatic because other people will choose to follow you of their own free will when you display your passion to change the world for the better.
You can change the world. Each of us hold the ability to gather a following of tens of thousands of people — a swarm — and make a real difference.
That said, you stand a better chance of success if you pick something to change that other people will feel strongly about. You can be the person who says out loud what everybody else is thinking when you say “enough is enough”. People will follow you for that. But you need to pick something that matters to other people.
Changing the standard for a deck of cards to hold red, black, yellow and blue cards instead of the red and black is not going to gather a swarm. Nor changing the number of days in a week to ten, to match the metric system. (France actually tried this. It did not catch on.)
But there are many injustices in the world — things that we associate with “doing the right thing” as we break the rules or the law. You are in a position to change these rules or change this law. I’ll bet you are even thinking of one particular unjust law you want to change as you read this very paragraph.
That’s good. You can feel the passion well up in you. Others will see that passion, if you only let them. Proclaim to the world that you want to make a difference, and give them an outline for how it shall be done.
Ah yes, the outline. The passion is necessary, but it is not sufficient. You also need a credible means to meet your goal. It may be raising a certain amount of money to buy a shelter for homeless, it may be getting more than 51% of the legislators to support a change in the law, it may be getting 250,000 voters to support a new political party, it may even be to get governments to sponsor a trip to Mars. It is doable. You can do this.
You need to run the numbers. Your passion and your project timeline will need to look credible. You do have to make sure that many people enough are affected by the issue you pick, and that a large enough portion of those affected people would probably choose to support you, whether it be by vote, money, volunteer work or other ways. The large enough portion of the affected people need not be a large portion as such; ten passionate percent of two million affected people is still a whole lot of people.
Once you are sure of that, don’t worry about how to get the support of the necessary tens of thousands of other people — you will need it, but that will solve itself, once you have the numbers and timeline on paper and some basic attention that quickly snowballs if your passion and realism shows through.
The rest of this book will deal with tools and practicalities. But the most important asset is in yourself: the desire to change the world for the better, the passion to go through with it, and a whole lot of charisma you never knew you had.
This is a draft part of the upcoming book Swarmwise, due early 2012. It is an instruction manual for recruiting and leading tens of thousands of activists on a mission to change the world for the better, without having access to money, resources, or fame. The book is based on Falkvinge’s experiences in leading the Swedish Pirate Party into the European Parliament, starting from nothing, and covers all aspects of leading a swarm of activists into mainstream success.