What can Lenin teach us about authenticity?

Lenin on stage during the 1917 Russian Revolution. Colorized by Julia Stege

Back in the ‘way-day’ (in my late 20s) I used to be a full-time revolutionary. I spent day and night studying up on ideas of freedom, the voices of rebels throughout history, especially what worked and what didn’t work about what they did. I worked with a group who were studying these ideas to try and implement them in our community. And so we experienced what worked and what didn’t work to inspire folks to change their world for the betterment of the world.

Of course I studied Karl Marx, Rosa Luxemburg, V.I. Lenin and all the famous revolutionaries of the 19th and 20th centuries, and what they did right and what they did wrong in the pursuit of absolute freedom.

There was a story about Lenin that particularly captivated me, one where he had an amazing breakthrough in his thinking that he refused to share with the world.

You see, even the most famous revolutionary in the world
can be afraid to reveal his unique discovery.

Back in the early 1900s, most of the progressive ideologues believed that humans are conditioned by their circumstances, specifically workers are a force for revolution but they can’t lead themselves. They need the intellectuals who have the smarts and the vision to lead them.

Lenin was at the forefront of those who believed in the small group of intellectuals needed to lead the revolution, and he laid out his plan in 1902 in a book called “What Is To Be Done.” But in 1914 while in exile in Switzerland, Lenin was studying the dialectical philosopher G.W.F. Hegel and had a breakthrough, or what we today might call, “an awakening.”

After studying dialectics which reveals a movement through contradiction to freedom, Lenin saw the creativity of cognition, that is the innate creative power within all humans.

“Man’s cognition not only reflects the objective world, but creates it. The world does not satisfy man and man decides to change it by his activity!” V.I. Lenin

What this breakthrough meant specifically was that the workers could lead themselves to freedom. This was not what Lenin shared with the world, however. Upon his return to Russia to lead the revolution of 1917, Lenin re-issued “What Is To Be Done,” thus paving the way for the Stalinist dictatorship.

Why did Lenin keep his breakthrough to himself?

Nobody really knows why Lenin didn’t go out to all the workers and share his breakthrough. You’d think someone like that would always put their beliefs out there, even if his ideas were at odds with all his revolutionary cadres. But when we look back at history, we see time and again leaders failing to live up to their historical imperative.  We can just imagine what the Soviet Union would have been like had Lenin and the Bolsheviks created a new kind of society that recognized the, “creativity of cognition” and allowed true creative freedom and self-expression to flourish.

What can we learn from Lenin’s mistake?

Rally for Education Rights I helped to organize in DeKalb, Illinois in 1989. The banner reads, ‘ Free Your Body, Free Your Mind, By Any Means Necessary” (colorized by Julia Stege)

We are all visionaries. In the middle of the night, great visions come to us that prompt us to contribute to the betterment of humanity and the world. Then as dawn breaks on a new day, we hide our authentic selves and retreat to the same-old-same-old, sharing some milk-toast idea or tip with our peeps, get back to the daily grind of work and keep our great breakthroughs to ourselves.

We will never know what impact our great vision could have on the world if we refuse to share it.

I know what it’s like. Do you think it was a no-brainer to share this story about Lenin with you, much less even admit I’d even read Lenin? But I’ve been thinking Ie have a greater responsibility to our world than just to create a successful business for myself, and I’m being called to do something about it.

What great gift or vision have you been keeping to yourself in the name of ‘keeping it professional,’ or,  ‘not turning off my potential clients,’ or ‘not having it all together yet?’

What is the legacy you really want to create for this world through your business?

I’m here to help you clarify and express your purpose through marketing that attracts your tribe and inspires a revolution. If you need help determining your next steps to sharing your purpose through your branding and website, please apply for a Magical Strategy Session with me and we’ll  work out a plan for you together. Just visit http://www.MagicalStrategySession.com to get on my calendar.