The theory of the The Long Tail by Chris Anderson goes like this: sell toward a large number of different niches rather than focusing on a small number of hits.
The curve is what we see in community service. Service is left to the top 20% at the Head to do 80% of the work. While the other 80% at the Tail is doing 20% of the work.
The People of the Tail have fallen into a trap that the work they do doesn’t matter. They have tricked themselves into thinking they are not good enough. But they’re wrong.
The difference at the Head is mentality. People like us do stuff like this.
Yet, the People of the Tail have more power than they think. They are the ones that can enable the impossible. The mistake is to believe that real change is only left for people at the Head like Jacqueline Novogratz, or Seth Godin, or Donald Miller. No one is going to pick you to lead. Nobody picked them. They showed up.
Putting your efforts into The Long Tail is the key to leadership. Leaders ignore the glamour of one big hit. So if you want to lead, here’s the question you have to ask: can you get out-of-the-way enough for others to lead?
Politicians, bureaucrats, and management can’t do it. Which is why they fail to make real change over and over again. They can’t get out of their own way for the power of the Tail.
Our job as teachers, leaders, thought provokers, ruckus makers is to help the Tail level up. We need to assemble the tribe. Stand up and say follow me. Let’s go do this thing. And if it works, you go out and do it again. Then again. And again. One day you see the world is a different place from when you started. It is a world that you can be proud of.
It’s up to you to make the difference.