Simon Sinek, in his TED Talk, “How great leaders inspire action,” tells us that part of the reason Dr. Martin Luther King is still remembered today is because he gave the “I have a dream” speech, and not the “I have a plan” speech.
While there is a time and place for plans, they tend to be more focused on implementing as opposed to inspiring.
Plans are for management, inspiration is for movements.
Great leaders rise up because they are seen as working in service to some idea. They are so good at describing the essence of the idea that rest of us end up following them towards their well-curated vision. In Sinek’s terms, great leaders help us understand “why.”
When Rev. Michael Curry was chosen to give the sermon at the Royal Wedding, it was certainly for his passion for his mission. In hindsight, knowing that Harry and Meghan are focused on charity and community involvement, the overlap is clear. Rev. Curry’s speech, which I can’t recommend enough that you seek out, focused on “the power of love.”
MLK shared “why” via his dream. He delivered it in strikingly vivid terms. You could see the children of different races holding hands, and feel the power of dreaming that this reality was within arm’s reach.
In a similar mode, Rev. Curry walked us through “why” via examples of different kinds of love. Curry begged us to imagine a world as he described it, where we are the smallest step away from being where “love makes room and space for the other to be.” His vision also placed us within arm’s reach of a better world.
The sermon hit its climax when he briefly switched metaphors. Referencing a French Jesuit Priest with a scientific background, he moved us from the psychological concept of love to the physical concept of fire.
Curry explained how controlled fire is what made human civilization possible. Walking us through the ages, he described the “fire” that powered the plane which brought him across the ocean to give this very sermon (“But I have to tell you, I did not walk across the Atlantic Ocean to get here”). He pointed at the controlled fire that allows us to “text and tweet and email and Instagram and Facebook and socially be dysfunctional with each other.”
And then he brought it all home.
Just as fire brought the old world into the new, Rev. Curry said Dr. King’s plea to discover the redemptive power of love will be what takes us, and certainly their marriage, from the old into the new as well.
The power of love is how it can transform us at the individual and societal level. That’s a movement. That’s bringing the “why” home in the hearts and minds of the millions of people tuned into to this ceremony around the world. That’s bringing the vision so close to reality that we should be able to will it into existence.
That may not be how you implement a plan, but it is how you inspire a movement. I have a feeling this speech will stick with a lot of people for a long while.
For anyone with an interest in communication, spend some time studying this speech – it’s a masterclass in form.