From Message to Movement: 11 Principles to Spreading an Idea Across the Planet

From Message to Movement: 11 Principles to Spreading an Idea Across the Planet

how to turn a message into a movement

“A message becomes a movement when every member of the mission becomes its leader. And when everyone starts to lead, a revolution begins.”

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of research on revolutions.

I’ve been curious how they start, how they grow and how they create change in a lasting and meaningful way.


Because at Live Your Legend, we are leading our own revolution. And it’s starting to catch on in a pretty big way – 100% thanks to all of you.

In the last few months, readers have held LYL Live Meetups in Los Angles, Australia, Pittsburgh and New York, and more are already being planned for Minneapolis, Argentina, Germany, Switzerland, Paris and China in the next couple months.

One of our inspiring members, Mark Arkell, has even started a Live Your Legend Club at his university in Ontario, Canada where he’s completing his PhD in philosophy!

It’s hard for me to believe this is really happening, but there’s no question that indeed it is.

From Idea to Revolution…

In my studies, one man who stands out more than most is 84-year-old Gene Sharp, whom I heard about from a TEDx talk I attended in San Francisco last year.

In 2009 and 2012 Gene was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in non-violent resistance. He wrote a handbook called From Dictatorship to Democracy that has since been translated into 31 languages. It is a step-by-step guide of 198 steps for building and mounting a non-violent revolution.

This book and Gene’s ideas have been behind the recent revolutions and uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria and Libya, as well as countless others including in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia when they separated from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Due to its effectiveness in creating positive change, the book is now illegal to possess in many dictator-led countries. If they find you with the book, you go to jail.

And these are just ideas. How crazy is that?! 

From a small office in the middle of the U.S., an 84-year-old man is able to share ideas that are allowing people to literally overthrow regimes and reclaim their freedom all over the planet. That’s how powerful these ideas are. (Gene’s work is also being covered in a new documentary called How to Start a Revolution, which should be out soon.)

This is the world we live in today. We could not be more empowered.

But it’s up to us to do something with that power.

Granted, Live Your Legend is not setting out to overthrow a government, but we are out to overthrow the complacent way of living that so much of the world has adopted. And I see this as a cause very worth fighting for.

We are here to give the middle finger to the scripted life of quiet desperation that over 80% of the people around us have committed to living. And to show the world that the impossible can become our new normal.

That is a big task.

So … that is why I’ve been studying revolutions.

And thanks to the ideas from the likes of Gene Sharp and my good friend Steve Kamb of Nerd Fitness, I’ve distilled down the 11 requirements of transforming a message into a movement. I hope this reminds you of what we’re all capable of as community and provides a framework for leading a charge to change the world in your own way.

The 11 Steps to Creating a Revolution and Spreading an Idea Across the Planet:

1. Have a crystal clear passionate cause and message that the world can get behind.

At Live Your Legend, we believe that doing work you love is a fundamental right. It’s something that everyone is capable of doing with the right tools, community, inspiration and support.

Our mission is to change the world by helping people find what excites them and build a career around the work only you are capable of doing.

Imagine a world where, instead of 80% of people hating the work they did, the majority of people spent their time on projects that made them come alive and impacted the world in a way only they could?

Think about that for a few seconds.

Imagine the level of innovation. How would people start to treat each other? What could be different?

That is our reason for being. That is why Live Your Legend exists.

2. Have a name to embody the community.

Every movement needs a name for its tribe and community. People want to be a part of something that inspires them. Naming and positioning can do amazing things for inspiration and motivation. That’s why sports teams have mascots and team names and why extremist groups always go by a certain name.

Steve Kamb took the Star Wars theme and called his community The Rebellion. Others may be called the revolution, uprising, revolt, awaking, the change, freedom fighters, or perhaps an analogy or symbol that stands for what we believe. Really this could be anything, but I want it to be meaningful, memorable and unique to us.

Live Your Legend is a powerful name and brand to embody our beliefs and vision, but I want to take it a step further and find a word or phrase that describes our tribe here.

And I need your help with this!

After all, you are our community. Before leaving this page, please take 20 seconds and leave in the comments one idea as to what we could call our community. To make it fun, I decided to host a contest around this. So I am giving away a newly designed Live Your Legend t-shirt to 10 of you who comment before this Friday. I can’t wait to hear your ideas!

3. Have a clear set of operating principles and way of life.

Every great movement has a timeless set of core values, beliefs and principles that govern their actions and keep them true to their cause.

When I launched LYL last year, I created the Live Your Legend Operating Manifesto: The 17 Habits of People Who Change the World. A year later these are still every bit as relevant – just as they’ll be twenty years from now.

I’m currently having my designer create an inspiring graphical depiction and poster of this manifesto (kind of like the Connect with Anyone Creed from last week). I can’t wait to show it to you!

4. Communicate your core message in an inspiring and easy-to-digest way.

Blogs and modern technology have made this incredibly easy and powerful. And the right video can put that connection on steroids.

That is why I was so damn excited to get on the TEDx stage last month to speak on Doing Work You Love & Surrounding Yourself with the People Who Won’t Let You Fail. TED has been an unreal resource for me to learn and share in so many different messages and movements over the past few years. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for this organization.

Then getting the chance to share and help the world with our own message from the center of the TEDx stage took things to a whole new level. And it completely blew my mind when the video got over 175,000 views within the first few weeks of it going live. What an honor. Enjoy…

Don’t see a video? Click here.

5. Support a cause that embodies your message – Together.

Everything we do here comes back to helping the people around us. The more we can do that in our own unique and talented way, the more the world will change for the better.

This also goes for supporting and giving back to the people who need it most. Ideally you want to do this through a unifying charity or cause that represents what you believe in.

This is why the youth charity impossible2Possible is the official partner charity for Live Your Legend.

Five percent of all our revenue goes to the work that Ray Zahab and his team are doing to inspire kids to push their physical and mental limits and prove to themselves that most things the world says are impossible are just milestones waiting to happen. Anytime you buy one of our products or courses, you are supporting this cause. We thank you for that!

In fact as I write this, Ray and his team are in the middle of running 400km over eight days through the Kalahari region of Botswana, Africa with eight youth ambassadors ages 17-21 (that’s over 40km a day!) as they learn about water and its effect on human development and biodiversity. Every day they broadcast their experiential learning and lessons live to over 20,000 students in classrooms across the world. How amazing is modern technology!? Today is their fifth day on the trails!

You can learn more about impossible2Possible and our relationship here.

6. Make it incredibly easy for others to share the message.

A movement really starts to spread when each member takes it upon themselves to spread the message in their own ways with their own communities.

I can only get our message out to so many people, but if every one of you took it upon yourself to share our work here with at least one person who needed it and then if they did the same, our 18,000+ members from 158 countries could start to cause some crazy things to happen.

I try to make this as easy for you as possible. That’s why there are Twitter and Facebook share links on every article as well as an easy way to email them to friends at the bottom of each post. That’s also why I make over 95% of our tools here totally free to you all and why I encourage you to share, copy and repurpose our ideas in any way and in any place you like. You want to copy any one of our articles and paste on your own blog as a post? More power to you!

That is also why I’m creating the Live Your Legend LIVE Field Kit mentioned below.

7. Bring people together in the real world.

While the web is a powerful tool for finding people who believe what you believe and building a community around it, the real magic happens when you put people together in the real physical world. Those of you were were at our LYL LIVE event at Samovar Tea Lounge in San Francisco in August know what I’m talking about. The energy, excitement and possibility in that room was mind-blowing.

I will do a separate article on this, but as a result of that one night, dozens of people formed mastermind groups, quit toxic jobs, started companies and launched products.

Crazy things happen when you put world changers in one place.

We must provide a physical space where people can come and belong. Live Your Legend and our Facebook Group is that in the virtual world, and our live events are that in the real world. I plan to do many more of those in the future and eventually host experiential retreats around the world (imagine twenty of us hiking the Annapurna Circuit through Nepal for a week or two as we plot how we can best live our legends…that is going to happen!).

This is why it’s so exciting and so crucial to this movement that you all host your own events around the world. It’s already happening in a big way, and many of you asked exactly how to best do this.

So as a result, I am creating what I’m tentatively calling the Live Your Legend LIVE Field Kit, which will be a step-by-step guide for hosting your own LYL event in your own city that will include possible event topics, meeting outlines, choosing a venue, graphics and banners you can have printed at your local print shop and a lot more. I picture this being a mini version of Gene Sharp’s From Dictatorship to Democracy handbook . 🙂

We need to make it as easy as possible to put the power in all of your hands. I think this will help that mission in a huge way!

how to start a revolution

8. Showcase the positive change people are making.

Nothing speaks louder than results. Don’t tell others why they should believe in your cause. Show them. And give the members of the movement a way to inspire the people around them.

That is the sole purpose of our Living Legends Reader Spotlight – to show that members of our community are doing amazing things and making real progress in having the impact they want to have, and to give everyone else a chance to help and join their own cause. Every month we profile 5 to 10 of your stories to our 50,000+ monthly readers. Here’s a recent spotlight.

It you’d like your story profiled, fill out the form on this page.

9. Take yourself out of the equation. Give the community a way to interact.

A movement starts to go viral when every member of the movement becomes the leader and adopts the mission as their own.

If you try to always stay in the middle of things and be in the spotlight, you will never experience the growth that could be possible if you just stepped aside and let everyone be the leader in their own way.

This is why we created the Live Your Legend Action & Accountability Group in Facebook.

It’s a place where all of you can go and connect, share your ideas, help each other and set up your own meetups and events. Since we created this a few months ago, it’s already taken on a life of its own.

You can request access to the private LYL Facebook Group here. I will, of course, accept your request as soon as you ask for it!

Remember, this movement is ALL OF OURS. Do with it what you’d like.

10. Give people a way to identify each other. Have a uniform.

Do something that matters t shirt

Me sporting the new threads in Thailand!

The more people can feel like they belong, the better. Just the simple act of looking like someone else makes you feel unified and a part of the same mission. Why do you think every army and sports team on the planet has their own colors and uniform? The more we can foster this energy and excitement, the better.

I’m not saying we walk around as a LYL billboard, but for a long time I’ve been wanting to have something physical that we all could wear (if we wanted) as a symbol that we all believe in the same cause.

We now finally have our first ever LYL Do Something That Matters t-shirts. My wife and I seriously cannot stop wearing these babies! You can grab yours here.

11. Have a rallying cry (i.e. A pump-up song)!

There is no faster way to infuse inspiration and change your physical, mental and emotional state than through the right music. There’s a reason boxers enter the ring to a certain song and why good musicians are so powerful and highly paid. We need a song that unifies us. That servers as an anchor to remind us why we do what we do here, and a trigger to fire us up to make a difference.

I used to listen to Tupac’s “Hit ‘Em Up” before every Jiu-Jitsu fight back when I competed. It was like gold. I have a whole list of pump-up songs on my Inspire Me mix on my iPhone, but there is one that gets played every day on my workouts and every time before I take the stage for a big talk. I probably listened to it 8 times before last month’s TEDx Talk. It’s a song my wife used to play when she taught her yoga classes.

It’s called Be The Change by MC Yogi. I believe it makes for the perfect rallying cry. Click the below YouTube video to give it a listen.

When I listen to this song I believe anything is possible. I hope you agree…

(Don’t see a video? Click here to watch it.)

The Inevitability of Change

Change will happen no matter what.

It always does.

It can be for the worse or for the better.

We have the opportunity to do something great here.

Alone, our task seems impossible. Together, we can change the world.

We now have over 18,000 members from 158 countries. And over 50,000 onlookers come by to check out our movement every month.

We have momentum. We have the community. At this point I see it as inevitable.

As long as we decide to do something with it… 

This is our mission. We know it will be hard.

But it reminds me of what John F. Kennedy said in his 1962 speech at Rice University:

“We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

And could not think of a better team to have in my corner than all of you.



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