Revolutionaries come in all shapes and sizes, which is important to any social change. If everyone tries to do the same thing, then the revolution is doomed to crumble, since nothing would be fully accomplished and everyone would just end up getting in one another’s way. Knowing your Revolutionary Archetype helps you figure out what sort of role you should be playing to fit with your natural skill set and personality, so that we can all move the revolution forward together.
Famous revolutionaries and social movers fall into these categories, as do you. However, no matter what angle you take in the revolution, you will find yourself working with other types of revolutionaries who all share the same core belief as yourself.
You might be a Visionary who sees possibilities in the tiniest inspirations. As you focus on your goals, you will devote yourself entirely to what you see emerging, sometimes even to the extent of neglecting other aspects of your life. As a leader, you see no lines between your own needs and the goals of the group, and you tend to see your ideas as reality, which can mean you overlook the details of the process sometimes. Visionaries are in good company, including such notables as US President John F. Kennedy, who acted on his ideas for the nation, rather than patching up the holes in the current reality.
Maybe you’re a Scholar, always ready to work out the details and get any necessary background information. Although you tend to isolate yourself from others, the knowledge you have to offer will be invaluable to the movement as a whole, and you get excited about the type of work that many others might find boring, making your contribution that much more needed. Noteworthy scholars include Betty Friedan and Rachel Carson, both of whom published books in the early 1960s. These women took on the battle of gender equality and managed to convince many people through their research and experience that something was wrong with the currently rampant sexism.
A Rebel is someone who is not afraid to confront forces of oppression head on. If this is you, you might find yourself defending others and forging ahead in uncertain situations, leading the group behind you. You might also find yourself accidentally fighting against those who are really trying to help you. Carson is an example of a rebel as well as a scholar, since she was unafraid to challenge authority and faced charges of being a traitor to her country because of her views on women’s rights. Like many rebels, she was unafraid to ask the difficult questions and shake the very foundation of the societal system in which she lived.
If you are a General, then your strength lies in planning. A Visionary might see the goal, but you are the one who determines the best and most effective route to get there. You are good at making serious decisions and organizing others to play their part, but you risk getting bogged down if you stop to examine every single detail before making any choice. Generals keep things realistic and have a good sense of what can actually be accomplished with available resources and time. US President Richard Nixon was a general through and through, driving ahead with his finger on the pulse of the viability of any project.
You could be a Diplomat, the one who has to smooth things over and ensure that communication happens. Your natural calm will attract others to tell you the truth and you know how to get people to open up to you. Just don’t let your pride take over if someone turns against you; not everyone will be on your side. Martin Luther King, Jr. combined scholar characteristics with diplomat abilities in his quest for civil rights and equality for all races in the United States. He struggled with criticism from all sides, but managed to strike a balance and find a middle route that was agreeable to a large majority.
An Agent will be excited by challenges, especially those that come from authorities that you do not recognize as such. While you might get bored when the excitement slows down, you are a free being, unrestrained by social conventions or laws, and you know how to use that to get others involved. An agent could be someone like Malcolm X, also of the black civil rights movement of the 1960s. Although part rebel in his behavior, Malcolm X showed his agent traits in his display of personal freedoms, unconstrained by law or social expectations.
All of these Revolutionary Archetypes are necessary to a successful social movement and it is often most effective to work as a team. To learn more about your own personal strengths and weaknesses and where you fit into the revolution, take our short quiz to determine your revolutionary role.