"I have a dream..."
It was one of the most powerful, spellbinding moments in the history of humanity. When the voice of Martin Luther King, Jr. echoed through thousands of people, full of the sentiment of struggle and melancholy, carrying the precious message of hope. A symbolic figure in the movement for empowerment and equality, he was one of history’s most memorable communicators.
One can only wonder why it is that these precise words have been engraved in our collective consciousness. What are the strong currents that underlie the system of connecting with our fellow thinkers and companion doers? We belong to the human race and we love to communicate through the language of emotions.
"I have a dream" was the phrase spoken again and again, a total of nine times within the flow of a single speech, escalating emotions, hammering the essence of those words - binding together the hopes and faith of thousands under a single unifying vision.
King’s rhetoric style has been widely hailed as a masterpiece in the art of communication. 'Anaphora' is the technical term of the style employed throughout that speech, implying the repetition of a powerful phrase at the beginning of sentences, capturing the interest of an audience, invoking intense emotions, and masterfully painting a 'picture' in people’s imagination. How else will ideas find the means to travel all the distance and hatch in fertile minds?
Sometimes, when we are mysteriously guided to walk out of our planned path, the most amazing life stories are written. Interestingly, the same goes in this case, delivering an important lesson for courageous leaders and seekers of all kinds. As the story reveals, the mesmerizing effect of King’s speech was not part of the initial plan. Legendary gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, was among the crowd and as King’s speech progressed and reached its conclusion, carried away by the electrifying vibe, she shouted: “Tell them about the dream, Martin! Tell them about the dream!”
He pushed his notes aside. The mind was no longer the communicator. Magic happened within a single transcending moment, and he was there present and open to seize it. King simply started sharing with them his powerful dream in an out of this world way that captured his audience and ignited change. In retrospect, this daring act also signifies the unsurpassed beauty of marrying authenticity, spontaneous inspiration and sharing a powerful vision through the freedom of speaking from the heart.
Such is the primeval desire of humans to connect, and the highs of influence that can be reached by elevating communication into an eloquent art form, that the ancient world made a science out of it. Rhetoric, meaning the masterfully crafted and persuasive style of speech and writing.
Precision, powerful metaphors, lucid descriptions and hyperboles made Demosthenes’ rhetoric style unique. While passion and conviction fused harmoniously with straight to the point simplicity. The authenticity of Demosthenes’ talent and the diversity of his communication techniques inspired scholars to portray his speeches as a river that either easily flows with tranquillity or unexpectedly bursts into a wild torrent.
One can only wonder how resonant the ancient art of rhetoric is with current day modes of strategic leadership, tools of galvanizing new market trends and the array of communication channels connecting our global society. In a world that seems so malleable on the hands of modern day storytellers, what has changed in communicating our visions and sharing our dreams?
To what extent are we being externally influenced and continuously enchanted by projected ideals? Ultimately, how do we reach the point of launching ourselves, as well as our creative and entrepreneurial endeavours into the crusade of finding our true north?
Influencers vs Followers. A new - and rather unimaginative - way of 'labelling' human relations. Still, what is it that makes a leader or charismatic communicator turn into an 'influencer'? What lies within the core of the power to communicate a vision to the world?
The act of truly accepting a leader implies above all, emotional resonance. Once again human emotions, values and character traits start paving the way: Empathy, trust, openness, closeness, likeability. Real life practicality, effectiveness, empowerment. Passion, creativity and endless imagination to dream before others do and share the blueprint of human progression. This is the sheer strength of human qualities able to inspire others to change their way of being. The world loves wise, brave and outspoken heroes.
We are all part of a living and breathing vast network and our connections to it define our life experiences and the possibilities of fulfilling our aspirations. And, as with all laws governing this physical world, achieving resonance is the ultimate key unlocking endless doors leading to our goals and the conquering of our dreams.
Life experience can be seen as a chain of innumerable actions and reactions. Ongoing studies in the field of social sciences shed new light on the fabric of human nature and the workings of the mind, explicitly showing that our interdependence implies that human qualities, behaviours, habits and modes of thinking can be highly contagious.
"We are all inter-connected". Two renowned scientists and their desire to launch themselves into a fascinating exploration have resulted in an extensive study of social networks. Professors Nicholas Christakis from Harvard University and James Fowler from the University of California delved into the study of human connections, deconstructing the dynamics of networks and their astonishing power to influence every aspect of our lives.
"As we studied social networks more deeply, we begun to think of them as a kind of human superorganism," they explained. "They grow and evolve. All short of things flow and move within them. Seeing ourselves as part of a superorganism allows us to understand our actions, choices, and experiences in a new light."
Exposing the invisible webs that connect us and the complex ties that cast our lives here together, has led to a series of outcomes and startling revelations: "Our interconnection is not only a natural and necessary part of our lives, but also a force for good. Just as brains can do things that no single neuron can do, so can social networks do things that no single person can do."
An elegant story of science and the multiplicity of life, out of which emanates a basic axiom for the deeper understanding of human nature as interpreted by Christakis and Fowler: "To know who we are, we must understand how we are connected."