It only takes twelve dedicated people to change the world

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The Blog Action Day theme the “Power of We” seems like a good excuse to introduce my theory of twelve. I think about organizing often since I’ve done it both professionally and as a volunteer in a number of organizations and campaigns. I enjoy reading histories of movements and leaders. The trend I noticed is that a core group of twelve dedicated, hard working people can change just about anything.

Often, it takes fewer than that. They don’t have to be geniuses or wealthy. They simply have to be committed to seeing their goals through.

The Memphis lunch counter desegregation sit-ins started with twelve people in the basement of a church holding civil disobedience training sessions.

It’s enough people to form the board and lead volunteers of a powerful non-profit group. Any Occupy group with that many active leaders is staying strong.

Most Presidential primary campaigns can be run with twelve staff until the race goes national. It’s more than enough key volunteers to run a serious campaign for other elected offices like State Representative or Mayor.

Even Jesus started out by recruiting twelve apostles and look how that turned out.

It’s a small number but most groups have trouble finding that many dedicated people. It’s not hard to get someone who will help out once in a while. Finding twelve people who will really spend their time, energy, and passion toward a common goal is difficult. Most groups accomplish a great deal with 6-10 leaders, but still never reach that world-changing threshold of twelve hard workers.

So much works against getting twelve people cooperating on a single project. Cynicism covers everything like a wet blanket. People get discouraged by past failures. The media turns activism into a passive form of entertainment, rather than something you get off the couch and do.

Our educational and political systems usually emphasize individual action and the power of individual leaders, instead of the power of movements. Long work hours and family obligations are barriers for most. And you can always play a pretend life on the computer instead of living a real one for yourself.

But, if you can manage to find at least twelve people motivated to work hard together on a project, I’m absolutely certain that big things will happen. I’ve seen it done. That’s all it really takes.

© 2012 Willinois. This article is reproduced by permission of the author. All rights reserved.