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Throw the Parade

“To quote Merlin Mann, ‘You don’t let the guy with the broom control how many elephants are in the parade.’ Harsh to say, but the fact is that great storytellers and artists and ruckus makers manage to insulate themselves from the people they’re going to hassle. And the job of those that are being hassled by the commotion is to be hassled by the commotion. No commotion, no job.” – Seth Godin

If you decide to throw a parade, then it’s inevitable that you’re going to create a mess.

If you create a mess, then someone has to come along after the parade is done and clean the mess up.

That person is the guy with the broom.

The guy with the broom has a different agenda than the person hosting the parade. The guy with the broom is interested in keeping things simple, neat, and clean. As maintenance man, his primary goal is to maintain the status quo. The person hosting the parade is interested in throwing the party of a lifetime. Their primary goal is to create a stir and shake things up.

If you let the guy with the broom control how many elephants there are in your parade, then he’s going to pick a number that creates the least amount of mess for him to clean up. Any parade with little chance of making a mess, is a parade that will neither create a stir nor shake things up. Ultimately, it’s a parade that isn’t worth throwing, because the whole point is defeated by an exaggerated concern over the perceived inconvenience it may create for someone else.

The guy with the broom is the person who’s basing his ability to have a good day on the hopes that you will make choices that are safe, predictable, and unthreatening relative to his own preferences.

Your life, your dreams, your aspirations…that’s the parade. And when it comes to throwing a parade, you have to give it all you got. There will always be broom holders who comment about your endeavors and the difficulty or discomfort it “forces” them to endure. Your friends might be embarrassed by your wild risk taking, a few clients might gripe about a pricing increase, or you might lose a  twitter follower or two for saying something “weird.” It doesn’t matter.

No one who ever created a stir was exempt from “making” others feel uncomfortable. The guy with the broom is not your responsibility. Besides, if you weren’t shaking things up, he would just be complaining about the lack of work anyway.

Be who you have to be, do what you have to do, and say what you have to say. Because if there’s no parade, then what’s the point?

T.K. Coleman

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