How to Start a Revolution

Start a Revolution

I’ve found the secret to being excited about waking up every day; and I’ll tell you what it is right now. It’s starting a Revolution. I didn’t always think in these terms though…

I used to ask: What can I gain? How can I turn this into a business that will support me?

I focused on helping others by sharing my perspective, but that was the extent of it. When I did that, working on this blog would be exciting sometimes, and at other times it would feel like just a chore.

Now, I can’t even contain my energy for the work I’m doing. I feel like there’s electricity in the air. I’ve changed my mindset and made the decision to do something epic. Now I’m focused on creating a social movement of people living on their own terms. Because of this, I’ve moved from ego-centric to collective-centric.

It’s bigger than me now.

Guess what happens when you make something bigger than you? You get plugged in. You become connected to this amazing source of energy that was never previously available to you.

Now I ask: How can I take action that will support this vision? How can I create momentum to further ignite this revolution?

Waking up excited

The biggest benefit to working on a revolution is that it gives you an insane amount of energy. Working on a revolution will make you want to wake up. You might even have a hard time falling asleep at night, because you’re so motivated to take action on your vision. This is how I feel when I’m laying in bed thinking about all of the awesome stuff I’m doing with this blog and with Project Mojave, and my plans to expand this project into something even bigger.

So if creating something worth remembering is likely to make you a thousand times more productive, why isn’t everyone working on something like this? I think more people would devote themselves to something greater, if they just knew how to do it.

I often spend a lot of time talking about perspective and cultivating an authentic state. While that’s all good, I want to switch gears here to practical and logistics of the application of these perspectives.

First, we need to define what it takes to create a Revolution

  • It has to be something you care deeply about and would be willing to devote your life to.
  • It should be something that will help other people.
  • It should have a long term impact.
  • It has to be remarkable; it has to be worth sharing and bigger than you.
  • Working toward a revolution often involves the pursuit of being an ordinary radical.
  • Your revolution must have a distinctive quality to it that is caused by you working in it. It wouldn’t be the same if someone else did it. But it is definitely a collective movement created by similar values.

Secondly, how do you discover what Revolution you’ll start?

This is probably the most difficult question to answer and where 99% of people get stuck. It’s impossible for me to completely guide you in this pursuit, because you’ll have to do a lot of exploring.

You’ll probably start some projects and have to let them go, because they didn’t work or they weren’t a good fit for you. This can be difficult to do when you’ve invested a large amount of time in them, but ultimately it’s necessary to throw away a lot of good ideas, if you really want to find what bigger purpose you want to devote yourself to. Mediocrity must be sacrificed in the wake of greatness.

Creating a meaningful revolution demands the habit of quitting a lot of things.

I currently have 30 drafts in my blog admin area. At least 28 of those won’t see the light of day.

I’ve gotten really good at throwing away ideas, because I care about producing only things of remarkable value. I feel that if I’m not supporting something compelling, all I’m doing is contributing to the noise. I would rather not water down my content or pollute the already congested content sphere.

So the best advice I can give in this area is to fearlessly walk your path. Generate lots of ideas and be willing to throw most of them away. Practice. The more you practice the more you’ll be able to refine and shape your vision. This might sound odd, but it’s only really through the constant movement in the direction of what you might think your vision is, that you’ll find what your true vision is.

It might start out with something that you’re kind of, sort of passionate about. You like it enough to work hard at it. Then a few months later, you’ve gained enough experience working on it to have explored other possibilities. Now you decide that part of what you originally set out to do still applies, but it looks different than it did at first. Then another few months of work go by and your vision is refined even more.

It’s only this kind of walking the path that brings clarity. Don’t wait for clarity or your “one true purpose” before you start. Please, please, don’t do that. It will never happen. Epiphanies are found in the dirty, messy circuitous routes of practice.

Other than practice, there is an awesome, invaluable tool to help you figure out what your revolution will consist of. And that’s asking questions.

I think asking ourselves questions is one of the most powerful, overlooked things you can do. If you can develop the habit of initiating these kinds of conversations with yourself on a daily basis, you will achieve greater things you could have otherwise envisioned.

Here are some potent questions to get you started:

  • What do you teach others simply by being you?
  • What would  you spend your time on, even if you didn’t get paid to do it?
  • What do you find yourself researching and can’t stop yourself from learning more about?
  • Is there anything you would consider yourself an expert in? If not, is there anything you’d like to be an expert in?
  • What gifts do you have that you’d like to make available to the world?
  • What do you want to change?
  • What lessons do you often find yourself repeating in life?
  • How does your purpose impact your local community? How does it impact your family? Your friends? The world?
  • What does your tribe (the people you most connect with) look like? What do you identify with on a collective level?
  • What legacy do you want to leave behind when you’re gone?

All of these questions aren’t meant to come up with the one-true-answer; they’re simply an impetus for getting your mind moving. Try combining asking these questions with mind-mapping. Have conversations with people, get their feedback. Connect with like-minded people and use them as a sounding board to explore your ideas. Just remember to stay true to yourself.

The most important thing is not holding back. Allow yourself to be ridiculous and completely authentic.

Now it’s time to start creating.

Moving from thought to action.

Once you’ve figured out what your project will look like, it’s time to start taking action. It’s time to stop thinking about it and start cultivating.

Just like discovering what to work on, a lot of people get stuck on how to start. It seems daunting when you’re staring up at a mammoth of a project from ground zero. There are so many things to do, so many approaches you could take, so many options.

But there is a reach, I promise you. And there is even that elusive grasp. But it only comes from starting. It only comes from not caring about what step you’ll take next, but just caring about the fact that you are taking a step.

The necessary ingredients to every revolution:

  1. A revolution can be big or small. Whether you’re trying to change the education system or change the way people look at folding underwear, what matters is that you are passionate about it.
  2. Rally your tribe. No revolution is a revolution without a group of people that share similar values. If you get really clear about your cause, you will easily be able to spot these people and make connections with them. Before long, you will likely not even need to seek them out. They will come to you.
  3. Tap into your outrage. Most revolutions involve some kind of outrage or anger. This is a good thing. Your anger can be a gift if you use it wisely and don’t let it consume you. Use your outrage and your passion to fuel your action for change.
  4. The cause rules. Movement and direction of your revolution should be dictated by the demands of the cause. Guru worship or leader exaltation results in the cause becoming obscured. Avoid these things so the movement is centered on the mission, and not a single individual.
  5. Break down actionable steps. What change needs to be made and how will those changes best be accomplished? If the status quo needs to be interrupted, how will you deal with the resistance? Are you willing to stay true to your cause despite the protesters you will be faced with?
  6. Keep the end in mind. It’s easy to get side-tracked with things that might seem to benefit your mission, but are really just distractions. In order to be effective, you must learn to cultivate an unshakable focus on your ultimate aim. Triage ruthlessly. Anything that does directly or indirectly benefit your cause, is a weed suffocating and diluting your objective, and it must be pulled.

Once in a while you’ll question whether or not you’re up to the task.

But something else is even scarier: what you left behind.

The ordinary, conventional, safe, secure, default life that you could have chosen instead. That’s what’s really scary. Remember that and you’ll be okay.

Everyone’s project will be vastly different, all I can offer are the necessary ingredients I’ve found. So instead of offering more practical advice, I’ll tell you about…

My Revolution

Open Road

Since I wrote this article about work being sacred, I’ve given a lot of thought to creating something bigger than me. (Chris Guillebeau’s post Creating a Legacy Project and Charlie Gilkey’s Do Epic Shit, also spurred me to think more deeply about this.)

I’ve always aimed to be remarkable with my writing and this blog. Actually, there’s never been a time in my life where I’ve really pursued something in the hopes of being just okay.

So reaching to be uncommon and exceptional wasn’t a challenge for me, but the idea of creating some bigger than me was. Being unconventional and providing value is one thing. Creating an entire social movement, now that’s nothing to shake a stick at.

That is my reason for waking up. That is something I live for. That is something that gets me excited about being alive.

Thinking in terms of leading, or at least stimulating a collective revolution, really made me rethink what I’m doing with this blog. It made me think about something bigger than just me and my ambitions.

Thinking about this forced me to crystallize how all of the stuff I do fits into a universal picture. I still have the same plan, I still have the same style, that’s not changing. What is changing is a deepening of community and purpose.

So this is my revolution:

To create a revolution based on authentic action. A social movement of people liberating themselves through living on their own terms.”

That’s it. That’s my reason for waking up.

How this revolution will take form is something I’ve been giving a lot of thought to.

The plan

As you can probably guess, the medium for my revolution is mainly, this blog. But it’s also the ebook, the liberation manifesto, my work with Project Mojave, and the other products that I’ll later release (that are currently in development). I plan to develop a collection of products (some free and some for sale) aimed toward creating personal freedom that will outlast me when I’m gone. Some of my ideas may seem dissimilar, but they are all related to stimulating a social movement of living on your own terms.

Some of this collection of resources will come in different forms. Obviously there will be blog posts, but there will also be ebooks, physical books (later down the line, when I become famous, of course), and possibly some audio and video courses.

The best part about this is I now have a crystallization of one underlying intention behind everything I do. The way my action manifests might be different, but the purpose is unified.

All of the stuff  I’m creating revolves around a similar theme: unconventional methods for improving your life and living more authentically. I want to help promote this revolution in an unconventional way. My aim is to create a wealth of resources for people that are easily bored with the same approach and crave something different. I want to appeal not just to the typical self-help typecast, but to punk rock kids, iconoclasts, recovering lawyers and cubicle-dwellers, people living off the grid, and people that aren’t satisfied with the status quo. I want to connect with those that question supposedly unquestionable belief-systems, and those that want live on their own terms.

My message is personal and collective liberation, my style or medium is an unconventional, renegade kind of approach. The message is my core passion and purpose, the medium is the style that I most resonate with.

My project isn’t about prostrating myself as a guru and saying “follow this one true way.” I simply aim to say “Hey, this seems like an interesting idea, and it’s worked well for me. Plus it’s a pretty interesting and uncommon way to live.” Not a lot of people are killing their goals, giving up caring and embracing ADD.

My project is to create an abundant wealth of information and resources for people interested in non-traditional modes of living. That’s it. That’s my legacy. And I think it absolutely kicks ass. It keeps me up at night, and makes me excited to wake up the next morning.

Others may think that this project is totally lame or downright silly. And that’s okay. It’s my legacy, not theirs.

I’ve found a meaningful pilgrimage to devote my life to, in the service of this cause and the service of others. Knowing that, I’m no longer perpetually searching. My actions are guided by a coherent mission.

Keeping perspective

Creating a revolution to me is something worth living for. But it’s also important to remember that the little things in life are what really makes a difference. You can be fighting AIDS in Somalia, but if you’re an asshole to your sister, it kind of negates the rest of it.

Remember that even if you’re thinking big, it’s the small things you do every day that make a difference.

Massive change and working toward social change is awesome, but it’s also how you live your life on a daily basis that matters most. It’s how you interact with people you meet on the sidewalk waiting for a bus, or in line at a cafe. It’s how you treat your loved ones and family that makes a difference. It’s the small things that create the possibility for huge change.

In short, it’s not just having your eyes on the future and how things will be when your aim is realized.

Because it’s right here, right now. That change is possible. It’s this moment that we must live in.

That’s where transformation culminates.

It’s in this moment that the revolution takes place.

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83 Comments on "How to Start a Revolution"

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MoneyEnergy
Guest

Very awesome….. congrats…. I’ve had the feeling of being so excited just about my own blog work that one or two nights I wasn’t able to get to sleep right away. But this is much bigger. I hope to cover you guys in an article soon. I’ve checked out Project Mojave and read your manifesto, too. Good stuff!

Andy Fossett
Guest

“Don’t wait for clarity or your “one true purpose” before you start. Please, please, don’t do that. It will never happen. Epiphanies are found in the dirty, messy circuitous routes of practice.”

Absolutely. I’ve fallen for that trap before, and it never gets me where I want to go. But when I dive in and start getting my hands dirty, things start falling together quite naturally – seemingly by accident at first. That’s when I really make progress.

“Authentic Action” is a great basis for revolution, and I’m definitely in.

Ryan
Guest

Epic, indeed, my friend. Your excitement is my excitement. I’m on board but until reading through all this I didn’t know exactly which board I was on (which I suppose is typical of a revolution). Let’s ride the wave!

Baker @ ManVsDebt
Guest

Every time I read something you write, while I’m reading I sort of drift in and on of a mode where I’m constantly brainstorming my own passions and purposes. But by far the greatest thing about it is you always bring back around to getting into immediate action at the end.

You’ve been on fire lately, man. Some really intense and inspiring stuff.

liz
Guest

I can see you’re on Fire! I’m still digesting your ebook “Reclaim your Dreams”. I really want to take my time with it so it really sinks in and I’ve already joined Project Mojave. Lots of information to go through. Your Liberation Manifesto was awesome too.

Keep up the great work!

Evan
Guest
Hi Johnathan, Join the health revolution. For those of us who live in societies where our environment is mostly hygienic and good food is available, health is mostly about relationships and our emotions. This means that (with a little luck perhaps) good health is within our grasp. Shifting the focus to this means a radical change to our health systems (currently sickness systems). It also means that each of us can take action that affects our health. And you don’t have to be a millionaire either! My own particular part of this is an emphasis on authenticity. To have less… Read more »
Joshua Moore
Guest

Wow Jonathon,

That’s a long post but I really like where you are coming from. Sounds like you are on your way to building your empire, and are finding the passion to do what you enjoy.

Keep up the good work mate.

Regards,
Joshua

Anthony
Guest

I completely agree with the insight regarding epiphany. Waiting for an inspiration to pop in is like waiting for Godot. I noticed that inspiration comes in when I’m engaged in activities and when my mind is active.

Matt Cheuvront
Guest

Great post Jonathon – it all starts with you, a revolution from within, and inspiration doesn’t just happen (usually) – it’s most apparent when your involved and engaged in things your passionate about. Good stuff man.

Amanda
Guest
Hi Jonathan, This is an awesome post. I’ve got something like this inside of me. It took two years to come out and then a few weeks ago there was an A-ha! epiphany and there it was. I have a revolution and a freedom business, to use your words, stretching out before me. I’ve been at this point for a few weeks now – so much energy and inspiration and passion and ideas that I’m going to burst. And it’s all starting to happen, faster than I ever thought was imaginable! So I am completely and totally with you, Jonathan.… Read more »
Tim Brownson
Guest

I sure as hell like this:

“My project isn’t about prostrating myself as a guru and saying “follow this one true way.” I simply aim to say “Hey, this seems like an interesting idea, and it’s worked well for me.”

IMHO’ that is an attitude that could be adopted by some of the big boys’ because once you start working with real life people you realize you can’t tell people how it is, only how it is for you.

Ola
Guest
Thank you for such a detailed and full of energy post! I couldn’t help but smile reading it. Our world needs revolutionaries like you – and everyone should discover such an energy and excitement within them! We were created to be more than ‘just OK’. I was smiling also because my boyfriend has been talking about his revolution since I met him. He’s a vegan filmmaker and has never worked for the Man, and his determination to help people inspires me every day. Thank you, again, for this post – I’m sure it will energize more people to be like… Read more »
Island Girl
Guest
This is super! I know that you will be helping a lot of people wake up from their sleep, and will be helping all of us to find ways to live out our own life’s purpose. I always appreciate your unconventional advice, and I think you hit the nail on the head when you described your theme/purpose. I can only image the lightness of heart and joy that you must be feeling right now. You set me on the path of searching for my tribe, so that I too can live out my purpose, and I am most grateful for… Read more »
Zoe
Guest

So many of the moments and transitions you described resonate with me. Over the past year, I’ve shifted and grown so much, but it feels really organic. By far, the number one thing that pushed me to grow and tap into passionate interests was DIVING IN.

I love your advice about getting better at throwing away ideas… and I am so with you that we need to just start doing shit to find out what we’re all about. :)

Mary Anne Fisher
Guest

Your work/writing truly moves me, Jonathan. I second what Tim Brownson wrote… it ‘s one of the things I most respect and admire about you.

The time for authenticity and being true to ourselves for the greater good is NOW.

Viva la Revolución!

Carl Nelson
Guest

I got to speak to you a bit about this in our interview the other day but it’s really great to see this expanded in such detail.

Having the goal of revolution from the little things (treating people with respect) to the big things (working in AIDs clinics in Somalia) is really where it’s at in essence. If you can’t get the small things then what’s the point in getting the big things.

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[…] Otherwise, you won’t be able to achieve the fullest possible extent of your desired success, fully enjoy your life or be there the way you really want to be for loved ones… much less be able to start your own revolution. […]

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[…] Illuminated Mind featured an motivating post on How To Start A Revolution.  Jonathan is one of the people that really gives me a kick in the butt.  It’s about […]

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[…] Personnellement, je suis convaincu que ces deux activités sont complémentaires, et je vous présente d’ailleurs dans ce blog, une revue de mes livres de développement personnel préférés. [EN] How to start a revolution […]

Focused-Awareness
Guest
This post was awesome. I felt a spark of energy just reading it. Finding out what were passionate about and making that the center of our attentions always has a net positive influence on everyone around you and I am feeling it in these posts. The bit about losing your ego-centricity to the whole plugged in sense of being part of a revolution is so true. I wish more people realized the connection between getting outside of your ego through some kind of spiritual practice and losing yourself in the life affirming kind of love and passion that revolutionary states… Read more »
Chris Edgar | Purpose Power Coaching
Guest

Thanks for this post. That’s a key point you made in the end, I think — that living in an inspired or revolutionary way depends on the choices you make from moment to moment. If you are thinking “I’ve got this great charity I want to create,” but you’re hating yourself and your job while you work to get the money to fund it, you aren’t living an inspired life, no matter how lofty the end goal.

Bamboo Forest - PunIntended
Guest
You write: “It’s how you interact with people you meet on the sidewalk waiting for a bus, or in line at a cafe. It’s how you treat your loved ones and family that makes a difference. It’s the small things that create the possibility for huge change.” I believe there is a good possibility that we are all connected. That how I live my life in my small circle will ultimately has an effect on people on the other side of the globe. I also believe that… if we really want change on this world we must look in the… Read more »
Evan
Guest

Well said, Chris!

Anand
Guest

Reading this is giving me Goose Bumps…Thank you.

Benedict M. Smith
Guest

great post. moving. reminds me of Batman Begins when Rhaz al Ghul tells Bruce Wayne that a man becomes more than a man when he represents something.

Cody McKibben
Guest

Incredible post man! I also just read Chris Guillebeau’s new ebook and re-read his original manifesto about world domination. Your Liberation Manifesto was a huge inspiration as well and aligns perfectly with my personal mission in life—to help as many people break free from the system and do good in the world as possible. Let me know how I can help in your revolution Jonathan!

Alex
Guest

Sounds like JD Salinger and The Laughing Man

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[…] Start a revolution. […]

Alex
Guest

Great article man. Thanks for sharing!

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[…] Start a revolution. […]

JS Dixon
Guest

This is an incredible post.

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[…] “writing” yet. But I’ve been thinking about it. Inspired by things like this and this, I’m preparing to write down in black and white the things I believe in. This one gives me […]

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[…] called How To Start A Revolution by the outstanding New Zealander Jonathan […]

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[…] things may seem small, but I think the world is changed by a profusion of micro ideas. Revolutions start with small […]

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[…] things haw seem small, but I conceive the concern is denaturized by a abundance of micro ideas. Revolutions move with diminutive […]

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[…] things may seem small, but I think the world is changed by a profusion of micro ideas. Revolutions start with small […]

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[…] things may seem small, but I think the world is changed by a profusion of micro ideas. Revolutions start with small […]

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[…] 12. Start a revolution. […]

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[…] things may seem small, but I think the world is changed by a profusion of micro ideas. Revolutions start with small […]

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How Giving Changes Everything…

We often think that our success depends on focusing on ourselves. But this simply isn’t true. Every successful person knows that you become successful because of how much value you give to others. Yet, we often forget this…….

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[…] Mead is into starting revolutions and I dig that. In a matter of years he has gone from the corporate life to a bionafied […]

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[…] things may seem small, but I think the world is changed by a profusion of micro ideas. Revolutions start with small […]

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[…] Illuminated Mind is a thoughtful blog that’s well-written, and longer than most. Rare to find both to today’s culture of microblogging. Jonathan is an iconoclast, but his blog on the commitment needed to start our own revolution is a good read. […]

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[…] How to start a revolution : over een doel dat groter is dan jezelf […]

becky nielsen
Guest

Reminds me of the Dalai Lama’s quote “If your mind is scattered, it is quite powerless.” Seems like you’ve done a bang up job of gathering your focus and helping others to work toward that step as well. Exciting to imagine what transformations might take place as we undergo our own personal and collective revolutions.

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[…] mean, I can understand the need to belong to something bigger than yourself, and I think that’s an honourable and fundamental human need, but I don’t get why that […]

Zachary McBride
Guest
Hey. I agree, the inspiration doesn’t just comes and if it does, like it in a sense did for me (not through indolence, but through thought and meditation rather than physical activity and good will) it won’t cultivate itself on its own. My lifes mission is a Revolution that is meant to be felt on the global scale, and I say this with the reason that if you are passionate enough about something and risk your life for it, it will be in effect global, so long as the intent is good, which mine is. In a way, you are… Read more »
nick
Guest
i like the advice. i am still in school and somhow the idea of revolution cam to me in one of my history classes. i have somwhat grasped what i want to do but i wouldent say i am ready for action. what inspierd my idea was when we learnd about how voting works. what botherd me was it said that there were representitives for each state that all came together and the number of representitives were determend by the population of the state. what i learnd that botherd me was that once it came time for them to vote… Read more »
nick
Guest

sry bout spelling not my sharpist subject and messed up on gramer and such cuz my hands moove faster than my brain can check what i am typing

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[…] things may seem small, but I think the world is changed by a profusion of micro ideas. Revolutions start with small […]

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