Being the second person
Someone, somewhere told me a little anecdote.
I don’t remember who, so forgive me if this is a famous anecdote that I should know but in my remembering it goes something like this.
dancer on the hilL
There was a gathering on a hill.
People sat in groups, talking and laughing and a casual band began to play.
The music swelled and could be heard by all. Some folk sang along, others tapped toes or fingers to the melody, many swayed to the rhythm.
One man stood up and began to dance. He put his hands in the air and began leaping and moving to the music. He smiled and beckoned to others to join him, but no-one did.
He closed his eyes and continued his energetic shifting and swaying and danced without care. As if no one was watching him.
People watched and smiled. Some wanted to dance but did not.
He was a lone dancer, dancing wildly and freely. He was apart from the crowd.
Some admired his individuation, some thought he was drunk, many felt a little uncomfortable and turned their eyes away from his expressive dance. Many secretly wished that they could be so daring.
As the music grew louder, he dances with greater abandonment and joy.
Then a second person stood up, moved closer and joined him.
She came close enough to share his dance but not so close as to be part of his dance.
She tapped her toes and moved her hips to the rhythm, she stretched her arms upward in an embrace of the sun and the sky, she twizzled and turned to the beat of the song.
The first dancer opened his eyes a moment, and they shared the widest of smiles and continued the dance.
Then another dancer joined them, then another, and another.
In a matter of moments, the hillside had transformed into an undulating throng of joyful dancers, jumping, jigging, swaying, and moving to the sounds of the band.
As the dance and the music continued the joy felt by that happy gathering increased. Everyone who joined the dance felt invigorated and energised by the experience. And the more people who joined the dance, the headier the experience.
Some may say that the reason the hillside became a dancing throng of festival magnitude can be traced back to that first dancer, who dared to stand up alone and dance on that hillside, unconcerned about the thoughts of others.
Had he not dared to stand alone and begin his dance then in all probability no one would have danced on that particular day.
But could it be that the single and most important influencer on that occasion was the second person to join the dance?
By joining the first dancer, the second dancer expressed acceptance and approval. Which in turn made acceptance and approval of the dance an option to others on the hillside.
Dancer one, was a lone dancer on a hillside. He was the exception to the rule. Alone he was a spectacle.
But dancer two, made the spectacle an event. And that gave others permission to join the event too. She changed the rule by joining in.
Could it be that Every amazing number one needs a number two?
Dancer one was brave enough to do his own thing.
But dancing alone could not persuade others to join his dance.
Dancer two is arguably the one who most greatly persuaded others to join the dance.
Yet dancer one would most likely be seen as the initiator, the first, the leader, the creator, and genius.
The metaphor can be applied to life and society in general I feel.
Sometimes, we can feel like we have failed because we were unafraid or did not even think to start something new.
However, everyone who ever had a new idea, that idea remains a concept, until others take it on.
So when you see something great and good happening in the world that is being spoken by a lone voice or danced by a lone body, become dancer two.
Although you may not be the first, your role in supporting and encouraging others to join in can be massive.
Never under-estimate your power. Your power to lend acceptance and give permission for others to step up to the mark by being the second one to lead the way. Your action may hold much greater persuasion that the actions of the first.
It is an interesting thought and one worth thinking, I feel.
Of course, there will be times when you are the first dancer. You will be compelled to take your place in the sun regardless of the thoughts or behaviours of others. But when you do, whilst you will be named and credited with starting the dance, remember to appreciate the second dancer as they join you, because they will take your dance from you, to the many and up to a different level.