Revolution or Renaissance

There is a difference between a revolution and a renaissance. A revolution is leadership dependent, meaning a revolution depends on individuals to lead the way. A renaissance is voice dependent, meaning ideas and a new atmosphere of dialogue from across the spectrum lead the way. Not many really understanding the distinction between revolution and renaissance.

In a revolution, we always look to new leadership, this is where a new power-shift takes place that kicks out the old oligarchs and brings in the new leadership. Sometimes this can work to the people’s benefit, however most of the time the new leadership is just as corrupt as the old leadership and has a secrete agenda to secure power to itself.

Too often we assume egalitarian leaders are greater in number than what exists in reality. In reality, there are not that many truly egalitarian leaders, perhaps less than 2% in a field of 100 leaders are egalitarian, which is a person that brings vision and great management together without leaning too heavily to either side. These leaders know how help reach consensus. It is fare to say that most leaders lean heavily to one side, they are either managers assigning work for others (these are great delegators, organizers and systems creators); or they are visionaries (these are disruptors, innovators, and outliers).  When a leader leans to one side, they tend to be more controlling, as all managers and all visionaries struggle with the need to control.

Not the case with genuine leadership. Genuine leadership properly understood stands in the middle as a third eye. Their focus is bringing the two polar opposites together. It is hard for most people to be impartial (especially managers and visionaries) and yet this is what great leaders maintain.

The real distinction is that a renaissance in voice is more powerful than a revolution in leadership. A renaissance can never happen with a single leader. History does not support this idea. What history does support is an increase in voice inspiring greater consent, which is more closely tide to a renaissance than a revolution. What we are faced with is “how do we increase more voice?”

Creating better ways to organize voice is more ethical than choosing new leaders, which has its risks. Organizing voice better will prove superior to any new ideas about leadership, or how to vote or appoint new leaders. Right now we are entering a revolution, and dare I say the fight is a fierce one as the old establishment refuses to die and make room for a new leader.

People organize better when they hear each others’ voice and when they labor hard to reach consensus. A revolution in leadership is more emotion driven than cognitive engagement found in a renaissance in voice. As long as we can work to improve the process where we share voice and choose the best ideas while reaching a wider consent, a renaissance is guaranteed.

All we need is innovation in hearing voice and the same innovation in reaching consent. This is the very meaning of genuine optimism. A renaissance is coming, if you can see it.

Keith Kelsch, The Genuine Optimist


  • Brandon Host

    The fact of the matter is that we need a lot more egalitarian leaders throughout our world. Also, by creating better ways to organize voice can make for a positive impact. I personally would almost rather be apart of a renaissance because far too often we are led by non-egalitarian leaders. I think that an increase in the number of voices heard would make more of a difference than a single leader would.

  • Joshua Barney

    I enjoyed reading this post because it made me ponder about my own leaders, as well as how I would act as a leader. It seems as there are plenty of people with their own motives who seem to find their way into leadership. I really liked what you had to say about revolution vs renaissance. It’s true that the great changes by individuals pale in comparison to greater changes made by the voices of many. I’d like to think that a renaissance will occur through the means of social media. Social media is a great way for people to express themselves and unite together. If people used social media more effectively than they do now, then a renaissance could happen sooner rather than later.

  • Colette Smith

    I like the idea of a genuine leadership and it being more like a round table leadership. The problem, I see, with this is that most people have an agenda and it is all about that person. Everybody is all about themselves. I guess it really isn’t fair to say everybody, but most people. So that seems to be the problem. We need to get people to realize that working together for a common goal is what actually gets things done and a voice from all different perspectives only helps things progress. I am not a huge fan of Facebook. I like the idea that people can connect with friends and family that are living far away. That it makes it easier to keep up with what is going on with those people we love but it seems to me that is, as you say, narcissistic. People post things that don’t seem to be used for the purpose of keeping friends and family informed. People post things that are far to personal. A lot of their posts seem to be a “look at me” type post. I hope that makes sense. I would like to see things change in social media, government, and employment situations but I believe it is going to take a lot more people waking up and seeing what needs to be done.

  • Tyler Baker

    After reading this post, I can’t decide what I would rather have go on around me. However, I agree that in a revolution, the new leader can be just as corrupt as the old one because he or she wants to control everyone and everything. Like a student stated above, talking about the elections, isn’t every time we get a new president a sort of new revolution is created? Yeah the world and country will still have similar problems but the way the leader goes about fixing them is different. Maybe one way of correcting the problem doesn’t work for the other people. Its definitely an interesting topic to think about and what is to come in the future. As we continue to grow as a nation, the people having more of a voice continues to grow with people organizing themselves into groups that promote ideas. Some of the time I disagree with what they are trying to accomplish but change is definitely coming our way. Revolution vs Renaissance is a tricky thing to think about. What is better for us?

  • Katie Griffeth

    I have been thinking about this post for the past few days since I first read it. I have been a bit hung up on the idea of the egalitarian leader. As the article said, it is very rare to find a leader such as this and I too wonder if it would even be possible in todays society to find one at all. I don’t know that someone could be appointed who could really be so impartial and put all of their own beliefs or opinions, or that of their constituents aside. The way our society demands for candidates to express their ‘side’ of things and then stand by them leaves them taking a side before they are ever even elected into an office. I think the idea of revolution verses renaissance is very interesting. I think that we could be a very powerful people if we could raise our voices together and innovate new ideas that matter. I think our society is so geared to the mentality of ‘me first’ or ‘I want all the power’ that those voices often get in the way of renaissance thinking. I think social media has given us a way to seem like we have it all under control, to promote ourselves as being the best, or having the most; even if that isn’t true. On social media we can show what we want about our lives and I would guess most people’s social media is not an accurate perception of who that person really is. I think we need to start using the media at our fingertips for greater good. To start finding these important, innovative ideas and push them out to the world. Then we need to listen and try to understand and accept ideas that may be different than our own. We need to try to hear others and compromise so that as a group or many groups of people we can create the renaissance that the world needs.

  • Sharon Rosenbaum

    It is mind blowing how we are not even aware today of how powerful having egalitarian leaders can be. There is a difference between a leader and a boss. To me, a boss is more of a revolution. This is because a boss can tell individuals what to do and expect them to lead their own way. Revolution is always looking for new leadership and a boss are those leaders who are constantly coming and going within companies. I do agree that “creating better ways to organize voice is more ethical than choosing new leaders, which has it’s risks.” Seems like most leaders become very power hungry.

  • Jonathon Allred

    I just finished watching the Presidential inauguration before I read this post. It truly is a rare thing to be able to find a leader that is egalitarian to lead. First of all they have to get into leadership which is a path full of people that do not truly want a leader that is for all the people but would rather have a leader that is more for their people. Balance in leadership is hard to find. I am a supervisor at work and see this struggle everyday at work. People want to have their opinion heard and have it matter but hey also do not want to have the final say in what happens if their decision is a poor one. I have one person in my work group that has had leadership position in the past but is so bitter towards working and having to do what needs to be done that he cannot accomplish anything that he is put in charge of. If a leader cannot see the needs of the group as a whole and try to bring balance to those needs while at the same time finding effective ways accomplish the task at hand they end up with frustrated group they are trying to lead and will often times fall back into poor or unethical leadership styles. Placing unreasonable demands on the people they are leading and not taking any of the blame for their part in failures. A true leader sees his own faults as well as others . The key is finding the strengths in yourself and others and using those strengths to overcome any trials.

  • Karissa Young

    While reading through this article, it inspired me to go and study a bit more about the European Renaissance time period in the 14th to 17th centuries and what types of characteristics were involved during that time. Seeing how so many different creative minds were involved in that time of change and voice was inspiring and showed how we can come together in this time period to start a new renaissance. The paragraphs in this article discussing the difference between a renaissance of voice and a revolution in leadership was powerful. I feel that we have it so engrained in our brains that we need a strong leader to inspire a huge amount of change that we are missing the idea of voice and how powerful we can become as we work together. The question is posed, “How do we increase more voice?” This is the question that we should be answering instead of focusing so much on appointing single leaders. “Creating better ways to organize voice is more ethical than choosing new leaders, which has its risks.” This has inspired me to begin thinking how we can be creating better ways to organize voice in a way for more people to be inspired to come together share their thoughts and ideas, and make them happen.

    • Check out the Scottish Enlightenment, it’s even more profound.

  • Mikaylee Mohr

    Theres so many things going on in todays society that its hard to keep track of what is actually considered a revolution or what is just there. As you brought up voices, it made me think of how much voice does play a role in change and upbringing of ideas. It is much more impacting in leadership to have a strong voice rather than being appointed to a position. As we can see, hopefully a renaissance is coming soon and it will bring stronger, more ethical leadership qualities and allow for more voices to be heard and understood in the nation as a whole.

  • Donald Glover

    How I look at Revolution vs Renaissance. Revolution is leadership and in sports you look at the Coach or captain as the individual leading the way. They are very emotion driven about what they do. I think when something isn’t going they way they expect that’s when the organization or team looks for a change . When things don’t go right you look for a new revolution something that is different. I like what the article said about new leaders they want a power shift out with the old in with the new. When I think of renaissance I look i think about things like “protest”, movements. Yes, it might one leader but the goal is to be heard get voices out there so they can see change. They want to increase more voices so i feel like they are creating a Renaissance right?

  • Nikki Moon

    I think this concept of the distinction is very interesting, particularly as I think about books today. I can look at history and analyze the differences, identify leaders, determine success, etc. but that is not what really interests me. I think a renaissance is really what appeals to me because with today’s social media, which our ethics class seems to have a strong focus on, it seems a lot more possible. We can share our thoughts, build on each others’, and come together from all across the world. To bring this back to my comment about books though, a lot of the popular series right now focus on revolutions in leadership. They highlight one person as a leader and marker of change. Lots of readers idolize these characters. Does this mean that we want to be like them so much that we disregard the voices of others to try to be that number one voice? I don’t know. But it could mean that no desired change is really reached because of the competition.

  • Devin Gubler

    I think that it is very hard to find a leader today that does not have an agenda. And that is making it very hard to have genuine people leading us. One of the things that I have noticed recently is with the presidential election. The vast majority of the opposing parties are trying their hardest to keep President Elect Donald Trump out of office. This is causing a great separation in our nation, and this is due to past leaders, and the way they have handled different situations. It is causing us to grow away from each rather than with each other. I am not saying that all the protest are pinned on leadership, because the media has an influence as well. But, we all know that the media is ran by “Washington” itself and the leaders therein. In todays society it is very easy for people to voice their opinion. With the media, it is very easy to have your voice heard. Via social media is where you will find a great deal of division among the people because it is so easy to voice your opinion.

  • Kyle Behunin

    Nearing the end of your post I enjoyed your thoughts on hearing each others’ voice and ideas. I’ll go off on a very slim limb to try to expand on these differences of renaissance and revolution. I really enjoy comedy and the laughter I get from it. Jokes in particular. The chicken crossing the road joke is an original concept I’ll use as an example. In a revolution, the joke is fundamentally changed and no longer the same. Now its a random set of gentlemen in a bar. In a renaissance, the same joke is revisited except with different outcomes, possibly even including the chicken not even making it all the way across the road. You are correct to say that a renaissance is coming when you see where our society is at. We are not going to be immediately rising up in revolt and changing things fundamentally. In this current peak of our civilization I do believe that the only thing we have coming our way is renaissance.

  • Richard Empey

    Genuine leadership is much harder to find today, in today’s world everyone has an agenda, it is becoming impossible to be the middle eye. The world we live in wants us to pick sides, many believe those who don’t stand with us are against us. Bringing opposites together for a common cause is becoming more and more unattainable due to the leaders today that try to bring separation between groups, this has caused unrest as a nation. From the attacks on police officers to the protest of the president.

  • Tori Abbott

    Mentioned in the text above is the concept that leaders often promote their own agenda, perhaps without even knowing they are doing so; regardless, it can be problematic in many ways. I agree that it is truly unique to find a leader who does not participate in such behavior and rather acts as a third party; with the intent of bringing two opposite opinions together. Something else the text mentioned that I found to be interesting is the theory that a renaissance does not happen under the leadership of one single individual; instead it is brought to fruition by the voices of many individuals working consciously to find the best and most innovative solution. In my personal opinion, this is true and it is important that we remember that as a society moving forward. Often one leader cannot make the same impact as many individuals.

  • Abby Wynn

    I agree that today we are experiencing more of a renaissance than a revolution. I think that is because of the ease of creating controversy and voicing our opinions. Renaissance means “rebirth” or “reawakening.” With the internet nowadays it is easy to share your opinions and concerns and find others passionate about similar things and willing to join with you in a cause for those things. Revolution seems more of an organized movement instead of a freeflow of information and chaos of communication

  • Sarah Nilsson

    “People organize better when they hear each others’ voice and when they labor hard to reach consensus.” I wish in the work place at both my jobs we held regular meetings. Way too often there is miscommunication or total lack of communication on the managers and employees part. I can be apart of this renaissance by starting with my sphere of influence. Having open discussions and not putting down the dissenters but listening and trying to understand conflicting perceptions/opinions. It is weird to me that over the years the classroom has had very little change, students listen to teachers. I think we need everyone in a circle discussing and most importantly listening.

  • Trey Kamachi

    A theory that ties in with the concept of a Renaissance and helps supports it is the Groupthink theory. By being open to other perspectives and ideas we begin to progress through fueled discussion and opinionated responses. We can grasp a concept easier with different methods and with tying in information that has some type of relation. In regards to entering a revolution, by example of the Presidential elections, we see two opposite sides trying to secure more power rather than the worry of leading a country to a more progressive future. Throughout these elections certain aspects of each candidates campaign led others to believe that the opposition is completely wrong and they’re the ones who are completely right. This is where leading and managing come together to tie in the concept of Revolution vs. Renaissance and how egalitarian leaders are rare. The need for power becomes evident when the tasks at hand are pushed aside in attempt for personal gain. Renaissance vs. Revolution, very interesting!!

  • Rod Warr

    I agree that there is a distinct difference between a Revolution and a Renaissance. While they may both be fueled by new ideas, a revolution is only as strong as its’ leader and a renaissance is as strong as the ideals that fuel it. A revolution (usually) takes on a very centralized structure and can be defeated if the leadership fails. A renaissance (usually) takes on a much more decentralized structure and is fueled by ideals and leadership examples that inspire others. If/When those leaders fall, others are inspired to take their place because they too believe in the idea. Often times others that were not behind the ideal see their conviction and decide to join into the cause as well. (This is not an absolute rule, but very common in examples throughout history). Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom explain a similar concept in their book “The Spider and the Starfish”. If a spiders head is cut off, it dies. If it loses too many legs it dies. A starfish is much more resilient; if it loses a leg, it will grow it back. Some species will grow an entirely new starfish out of the lost leg. Brafman and Beckstom focused more on the strengths and weaknesses of centralized versus decentralized organizations, but I feel like the idea applies to this example as well. When there is a time of enlightenment and new ideals, it is much easier to get on board with the changes and find unique and independent ways to help the cause. When the ideals lead the cause, it is also much easier to find and put in place a leader that fulfills the needs and wants of the people.

  • Kaitlyn A.

    In today’s society, I believe there should be greater leadership, where both sides concerning an issue are represented equally. There’s a need for innovation and change. Yet, not all people are accepting of change. Change is hard for anyone to accept. I do believe voice is a powerful thing. However, in today’s society, our use in voice isn’t the greatest. It’s almost as if we are scared of being looked at differently. That’s probably why we don’t speak for ourselves. I think we first need to believe in ourselves in order to increase our use in voice. We need to know that we have a purpose and a say in everything even though the outcome may not always be what we wanted. Every voice should be heard and therefore, matter. This, in turn, will bring about innovation.

  • Kara Stoddard

    Although I find this post a little abstract for me, it was an interesting “get you thinking” kind of read. I’ve never compared the idea of revolution vs. renaissance and I like to toying of the comparison. Now that i’ve opened my mind to the comparison, I’d like to think I’m in favor of a revolution. I like the idea that a revolution is voice heard and has more people of the people. I do think that today’s society makes it extremely easy for the people to make their voice heard which leads to a better sense of a revolutionary type of system. This post really got to think that yes, there is a general assumption that leadership takes a great toll on what is to be done and the actions that take place, but essentially we as the people have the greatest voice of all.

  • Sydney Wathen

    I feel that a revolution is easier to accomplish, and doesn’t require as much work for the general population. That is why we see more instances of revolution verses renaissance. I agree that renaissances are more powerful and I would also dare to say that most of us would hope for this change. My fear is that in today’s times, we too often expect instant results with little or no work. We sometimes expect our voices to be heard and also expect change to happen instantly. But like Linzi said, we are too busy attacking each other’s ideas and wanting only our voices to be heard and get discouraged or angry. There is so much contention in the world that I can only hope for a renaissance so we can come together as a human race.

  • Alexa Coulter

    Maybe it is due to people seeing a revolution as more of a movement as a renaissance but in actuality, a renaissance is much more a movement than a revolution. With all the things going on in the world such as “Black Lives Matter”, “Gay Pride”, and all the other social movements, it makes you wonder if it is a renaissance or a revolution. Surely it has to be a revolution, right? There are leaders that have a one-sided agenda, who sometimes fail to see different perspectives. The hidden agenda is then revealed. Or could it be a renaissance? One person raised their voice which allowed others to raise their voice. More than one leader is connected with social movements so does that shift the movement based off that fact alone? It is an interesting concept to understand the differences, especially when relating it to social media and social movements at this time.

  • Linzi Hansen

    I truly wonder if it’s possible to be an egalitarian leader. Is there a way to truly want whats best for people regardless of your own feelings, biases or opinions? Can a person really be that impartial? It would be nice if that were possible. I agree with the idea that a Renaissance is more powerful than a Revolution. When people stand together and organize their efforts to make their voices heard, then they have the ability to introduce new ideas, and a new way of looking at things. I think the real problem lies in civility in discourse. Social media has made it possible to make our voices hear, the problem is that real ideas aren’t being exchanged because we are too busy attacking each other. If we can bring civility back to our conversations then we can enact true change. I think you make a good point that we need to hear each other. We have to be open to new ideas even if they are different than our own. Compromise can help create change.