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Leadership Lessons from Occupy Wall Street Movement


--By V. Jesse Smith

First, this article is not about agreeing or disagreeing with those who are part of Occupy Wall Street. Each of us may have our own belief on whether what they are doing is wrong or right. For the purpose of this article, it is irrelevant whether what they are doing is right or wrong. What is important, however, is looking at what they are doing on Wall Street and what is motivating them to do it; and similarly, how we can emulate what they are doing on wall street in our own individual lives to achieve our dreams and goals in life.

For nearly 6 to 7 months, the media and world have been arrested and captivated by the events of everyday people from around the country, rising up with righteous indignation, and saying in no uncertain terms that corporations and banks must pay their fair share of taxes in America while enjoying the American Dream. These everyday people have titled themselves the 99%. Their essential belief is that it is morally wrong for 1% of the population to control 99% of the wealth of the nation.

Whether we fundamentally agree or disagree with their philosophy or method, their actions can teach all of a lesson: if we dedicate ourselves to following our dreams and goals in life similar to the way they have dedicated themselves to occupying wall street, we all can achieve our individual dreams.

So what leadership lessons can we learn from the “Occupy Wall Street” movement that we can apply in our own individual lives? At the outset, I think there are three (3) things we can learn from this movement. They are as follow:

1) Develop a Philosopy of Belief That Will Bring About Change:

What the Occupy Wall Street movement teaches us is that when you have a philosophy of belief that motivates you into action, then change will result from that belief. The Occupy Wall Street folks had a belief that corporations and bankers should pay their fair share taxes in America. This was their core belief. They organized, galvanized and motivated people around this fundamental philosophy of belief. This philosophy of belief motivated them to take action and occupy wall street to let the corporations and bankers know that they must pay their fair share.

So what is your philosophy of belief in achieiving your goals and following your dreams. Do you have a philospy of belief that you can be successful in life regardless of your circumstances; do you have a philosophy of belief that you deserve to be happy in life; that you deserve to be prosperous in life; that you are as smart, powerful and equally qualified to get that job that you have wanted since you were born. What is your philosophy of belief that will motivate you to change your way of thinking about life?

When you look at other people who have become successful in life you will discover that they had a fundamental philospy of belief. Tyler Perry, that great mogule of media entertainment, had a phiolosopy of belief that he could be successful at putting on plays and entertaining people and be wealthy at it. He carried this belief within in him even though he was homeless and sleeping in his car still trying to pursue his dreams and goals in life; he held on to this philosophy of belief even when he had no soles at the bottom of his shoes, yet, he kept walking and knocking on doors trying to sell his script to broadway. It was Mr. Perry’s philosophy of belief that changed the way he perceived his situation. It was his philosophy of belief in himself and the God whom he served that allowed him to reach his dreams. What is your philosophy of belief? Discover it and now then start living it.

2) Surround Yourself By Like-Minded People:

One of the most interesting thing about the Occupy Wall Street movement is the intriguing story of how that movement development. The movement was not started by a well-established Civil Rights group; it was not called into existence by some present, past or distant leader; nor was it birthed into existence because of some foreseeable terrorist act. Rather, the movement came together because of a few people, mainly youth, who got together and started camping out in front of the stock market in New York City because they were upset about the fact that big banks and corporations were not paying their fair share of taxes. Word got around about what was going on in down town New York, and people who were like-minded began to join their campaign and occupy wall street with other people. The media caught attention to this fact and began to broadcast it around the nation, and upon seeing this on television, other people joined wall street occupiers, and then like-minded people within other cities began occupying wall street in their own cities. The occupy wall street movement took flight because their were like-minded people who surrounded themselves by other like-minded people.

Success attracts success. It is just that simple. Wealthy people marry wealth people. Celebrity stars marry celebrity stars. Can you see where I am going with this? If you want to be successful in life, you must surround yourself with successful people. Dr. Dennis Kimbro once said that “if you are the smartest one in your group, then you need a new group.” This statement has never exclaimed a more profound truth. Why? As long as you are around people who know as much as you do, then you will never grow to your next level of greatness. By surrounding yourself with people on the same level as you, then you remain in mediocrity and never evolve into mastery of your life. When I was growing up, I made it my business to make sure that the circle in which I traveled were people who could challenge me, or who could take me my next level of greatness. Who are the friends that surround you? Do they push you towards your dreams? Do they encourage you to reach for the stars? Can you learn from them, or use them as resources to increase or enhance your person, business, company or community. If not, then you need a new set of friends.

3) Get Disgusted With Your Current Situation:

What proved successful for the Occupy Wall Street movement was the fact that they were fed up and disgusted about how they were living and about how banks and corporations were living. In short, they were fed up and disgusted about their condition—their current situation. They got tired of paying taxes to government where that same government allowed banks and corporations to pay either minor taxes or no taxes at all to achieve the American dream. Many of the Occupy Wall Streeters realized that the only way their condition is going to change is if they take their condition and place it right on the door steps of those who they believe was responsible for their condition. Whether what they did was right or wrong will be long debated. But, what caused them to do what they did was the fact that they were fed up and disgusted about their current conditions and wanted to change it.

It has often been said that God will never change the condition of a people until the people rise up and begin to change the condition themselves. If you are not happy with your life, then you have the power to change it. If you are not happy with the job you go to everyday, you have the power to change it. If you are not making enough money to live a comfortable life, you have the power to change it. The fact of the matter is that you will never change your condition until you become tired and disgusted of being in the condition in which you are in.

I often tell the story conveyed by Zig Ziglar in which tells us of young boy who walked to school one morning and saw a dog laying down on a porch next to an old man sitting in a rocking chair. The dog was moaning and groaning as he laid on the porch. The young boy inquired with the old as to why the dog was moaning and groaning. The old man responded that the dog was moaning and groaning because he was laying on a nail. The boy quite inquisitively responded, then why don’t the dog just get up off the nail? The old man responded because the “dog isn’t hurting enough yet.” The moral of the story is that you will never get out of the situation you are in until you have reached a point where you are hurting enough to get up and change your condition.

As long as you keep working at a job you hate, you will keep living a life of misery. As long as you keep putting off writing the book, you will keep denying yourself greatness. The question is are you hurting enough in the current situation you are in? Are you hurting enough to open up your business, or start your church? Are you hurting enough to get up and change your situation? Learn from the Ocuppy Wall Street protestors and get disgusted with your current situation and change your condition—today.

Whether we agree with protestors of Wall Street or not, there is something to learn from them about our own individual greatness. When you have a philosophy of belief in yourself which allows you to be surrounded by like-minded people, and you become disgusted with your living condition, then you will inevitably change your life for the better, and move into your next level of greatness. So let’s learn something from this event with Occupy Wall Street and achieve our individual dreams.


About the Author: V. Jesse Smith is a national motivational speaker who conducts Leadership and Self-Improvement seminars throughout the nation encouraging people to live their dreams by improving their skills. He is the president and founder of Heights of Greatness Leadership Institute and can be reached at or (661) 992-9052.


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