Be An Instigator

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard was to “be first.” Be first to say hello to a stranger, be first to volunteer, be first to take on a challenge.

This is fine advice.

The more I manage to follow it, the more I enjoy my life and see others enjoying theirs as they begin to act, too. With enough action, we can each set in motion a great deal of action in others.

There is something dangerously powerful here – so much so that the right word for the sort of person who does this is “instigator.”

The word “instigator” speaks of someone who stirs up action in others – usually of the rebellious kind. But in our world of inertia and cowardice and status quo living and thinking, isn’t all action inherently rebellious?

Instigate hard discussions, friendships, book clubs, adventures. Instigate parties, projects, businesses, repentance. Instigate revival, restoration, reinvention.

The world needs generative people that call into action the generativity of others.

Some people will find that dangerous. But if you take on the role of instigator, most people will thank you for being the person who makes them feel free to join in on the action. And there are few legacies better than that.

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James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, intellectual explorer, and perpetual apprentice. He opted out of college to join the Praxis startup apprenticeship program and currently manages marketing and communications at bitcoin payment technology company BitPay. He writes daily at