Martin Luther King, Jr. changed the world. He led a movement that disrupted practices of racial segregation across the United States. How did he do it?
For those of us seeking to disrupt our world in 2017, here are several tips that we can pick up from this powerful leader.
Martin Luther King, Jr. noticed what was happening in his neighborhood and across the United States. He noticed how African-Americans had to sit in the back of the bus and give up their seats if a white person was standing. He saw the racial injustice.
Before we can do anything significant, we need to take an honest look and see what is actually happening.
What do you see today that could be significantly improved?
Second, Feel their Pain
He felt like a second-class citizen and could easily feel the pain of every other African-American in the United States. This was important. Without feeling that pain, we will never disrupt because we without the pain, we are too comfortable to act. But without significant pain, we will never accept the challenge for great action.
Why? Like MLK, we will face so much resistance that unless we want to alleviate a great pain, we will never take the disruptive action.
How much do you feel the pain of those whose lives you want to improve?
Third, Think about what is Possible
Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream. A dream, as you know, is that wispy emotional image of what is possible. Others might say it is impossible, impractical and even down right stupid to pursue. But he had a dream.
What is your dream?
We celebrate MLK’s birthday but he definitely didn’t make these strides by himself. Others, like Ralph Abernathy, James Bevel and Jesse Jackson were close collaborators. Countless others joined the cause, marching in unity.
Who will you collaborate with?
Fifth, Challenge the Status Quo
Radical injustice was the way of life in the south. That is just the way it was. But Martin Luther King, Jr. was not willing to live with it anymore.
What standard practice are you willing to challenge?
Sixth, Prepare for Resistance
I heard many years ago that whenever someone proposes something new there will be at least 7 people resisting. Changing racial practices, as we have witnessed over and over in this country, is extremely difficult because those in power never want to share it. Racial injustice is deeply ingrained socially, legally and egotistically and seems like it is impossible to change. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to work toward that goal.
What resistance will you encounter in disrupting?
How can you prepare for it?
We celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday in part because he was assassinated. That is a heavy price to pay for disruption. But it is not uncommon. He also spent nights in jail. He was physically assaulted when he was speaking. Many others were also beaten in marches and others lynched if they dared deviate from the established practices.
You may not face physical death but your career may be threatened simply for deviating from best practices. You will likely suffer financially and emotionally as you work to make that significant change.
Unfortunately that potential sacrifice is what deters many from disrupting. They purposely choose to be comfortable, missing their chance to do what others consider impossible.
On this day, we remember how Martin Luther King, Jr. disrupted the world of racial injustice. As potential disruptors of our world, let’s learn from what he did and how he did it.
Become the Disruptive Leader
I am Dr. Loren Murfield and I work with aspiring and emerging leaders to become disruptive leaders. One decision I help them make is in writing their weekly blog, articles, white papers, online courses and a book. If that is your desire, contact me today.
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(c) Murfield International, Inc. 2017