Search This Blog

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A fear greater than Death....

So, You might have heard I am organizing an Artist/Patient Flashmob to promote patients' rights during an upcoming rally for healthcare reform. I might have even asked you directly to participate. A dear friend of mine had read about the event and was not sure she could attend. She was filled with fear at the idea of dancing in a hospital gown in a park full of strangers. I would like to show her this from Derek Sivers presentation at the TED Conference: Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy.

Derek told his audience:
"A leader needs the guts to stand alone and look ridiculous. But what he's doing is so simple, it's almost instructional. This is key. You must be easy to follow!

Now comes the first follower with a crucial role: he publicly shows everyone how to follow. Notice the leader embraces him as an equal, so it's not about the leader anymore - it's about them, plural. Notice he's calling to his friends to join in. It takes guts to be a first follower! You stand out and brave ridicule, yourself. Being a first follower is an under-appreciated form of leadership. The first follower transforms a lone nut into a leader. If the leader is the flint, the first follower is the spark that makes the fire.

The 2nd follower is a turning point: it's proof the first has done well. Now it's not a lone nut, and it's not two nuts. Three is a crowd and a crowd is news.

A movement must be public. Make sure outsiders see more than just the leader. Everyone needs to see the followers, because new followers emulate followers - not the leader.

Now here come 2 more, then 3 more. Now we've got momentum. This is the tipping point! Now we've got a movement!

As more people jump in, it's no longer risky. If they were on the fence before, there's no reason not to join now. They won't be ridiculed, they won't stand out, and they will be part of the in-crowd, if they hurry. Over the next minute you'll see the rest who prefer to be part of the crowd, because eventually they'd be ridiculed for not joining.

And ladies and gentlemen that is how a movement is made!"

So my friends, I maybe the lone nut that thought this would be a great way to show support for patients' rights and healthcare for all; but you are far more important in the role of first followers. I know it is hard to stand up in front of complete strangers in a public park and potentially make a fool of yourself. But will it be any easier to stand up for yourself in a hospital when you disagree with diagnosis or treatment? Americans fear public performance more than death itself. I took speech and debate for many years. I vividly remember the new students saying they "would rather die than be on stage."

Would they really rather die? Because that is what we are talking about. There are people dying every day in this country because of lack of preventive care, lack of access to insurance and lack of access to information about treatment options for their disease. We can do something to change this. We can march, dance, sing, protest and paint about what is currently happening to patients all over America.

I ask you to be part of a movement. I ask you to show support for human rights and for patients' rights. Please come to Dupont Circle, Washington DC at 10:15 am on Tuesday, March 9th 2010 and join us in a Flashmob for healthcare reform. If you cannot dance, come anyway and show support in being one of those watching the performers, or holding the cameras, or holding the loudspeakers.... Participate in whatever way makes you happy, but please show up.


  1. Hello,
    I stumbled across your blog as a result of a Google Alert. Though unable to attend today's Flashmob event I applaud your assertiveness and ingenuity in staging such a "happening" as we used to say!
    I have been advocating for patients to stand up for themselves and seperate themselves from the "pack" since a cancer diagnosis in 2002. It was not until my sister was diagnosed with cancer in 2003 that we decided to do something tangible that would encourage people to empower themselves as they were travelling their own medical odyssey. The at-the-time simple thing we did was to design a garment we call Healing Threads that a person/patient OWNS, that is theirs, that has their distinctive smell, that hangs in their closet, that affords them the opportunity to say "NO" to a standard hospital gown. Saying NO to a medical professional when "offered" a hospital gown is empowering while at the same time offering dignity and modesty. A patient is less likely to argue with a medical professional when wearing one of those skimpy things than they are if they are fully clothed with dignity, modesty, and empowerment via a Healing Threads garment. Saying NO to a hospital gown encourages the patient to ask more questions, ask for 2nd or 3rd opinons, research their aliment, discuss complimentary and alternative therapies, and OWN their ailment. By empowering people with our Healing Threads we encourage them to become PART of their medical team, not just a victim. Knowledge is power and if this fiasco health care reform plan is any indication, the average person/patient is going to have to arm themselves with such knowledge of their ailment or wellness to unleash their power. So, become a leader as the shirtless guy did and stand up to say NO to whatever it is you do not like in the medical arena or follow whoever has the fortitude and guts to stand up and say, "We are mad as hell and not going to take it any more!". It is empowering!
    Thank you

  2. Once you have a flash mob in NYC, I am there with my patient cloth ready to make fun of myself!