Taking a Stand For Something

by Stephen Mills on March 13, 2010

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“A strong stand is how you attract superfans.  They point to you and defend you.  They spread the word further and wider, and more passionately than any advertising could.”  — From Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Taking a stand on something; your product, your writing, or your professional ideas has practical benefit.  If you have a product and you try to please everyone, you’ll end up pleasing no one.  Apple is a company that takes a stand and has superfans.  I’ve been listening to Mac bigots (not intended pejoratively) for decades.

Yes, you will make some people mad, you may offend some, they may unsubscribe or they may hate your product, but that’s life.  I like the idea of taking a stand and attracting superfans.  I would rather have 100 superfans than 1,000 lukewarm fans.

If you take a stand you will get noticed.  That’s why many people don’t take a stand.  They don’t want to get noticed by someone who doesn’t like what they are saying.  It’s better to play it safe.  If you poke your head up it may get knocked off.  This is the behavior of 80% of the people in the corporate world.  You may be safe, but you’ll never get anywhere.

I find myself drawn to and respecting people who take a principled stand even if it is diametrically opposed to my own.  I would rather have a principled enemy than a wishy-washy friend.

Aside from the practical benefit in attracting passionate supporters, there is another and maybe more important benefit of taking a stand – your self-respect.  Whenever I’m quiet about something that is important to me in the face of strong opposition, I end up feeling sick about it later.  Whenever I hold back on writing something because I’m afraid it might offend someone, I lose a little respect for myself.  I have just violated one of my basic principles.  When I stand up for what I believe, I feel good about myself no matter what anyone else thinks.

“If some among you fear taking a stand because you are afraid of reprisals from customers, clients, or even government, recognize that you are just feeding the crocodile hoping he’ll eat you last.” — Ronald Reagan

What do YOU think?  Leave a comment and join the conversation.

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike King March 13, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Awesome article Stephen and I absolutely agree. Similar to your comment at my site, I’ve used my passions to take a stand on many things and you are right, it is not always positive to other individuals, but I it is necessary to lead. Many people want to be GIVEN leadership without ever daring to take a stand. It is just not possible in my mind to appease everyone, nor should you try. I love your thoughts and points on super fans and diametrically opposed enemy. GREAT STUFF!
.-= Mike King´s last blog ..Bring On the Passion! =-.

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Stephen Mills March 13, 2010 at 8:44 pm

Hi Mike, thanks. You are right, leadership is something you do not something you are given.

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Positively Present March 13, 2010 at 1:16 pm

Wow, I think this is SO true: “If you take a stand you will get noticed. That’s why many people don’t take a stand. They don’t want to get noticed by someone who doesn’t like what they are saying.” People are often scared to take stands. Personally, I think it’s really important to take a stand about what you believe in — even if everyone doesn’t agree with you!

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Stephen Mills March 13, 2010 at 8:45 pm

Hi Dani, thanks for stopping by to comment. I’m afraid not to take a stand most of the time :-)

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Rob March 13, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Couldn’t agree more. Keeping a low profile / avoiding upsetting people / playing it safe / being conservative is advice you hear a lot. It is often tempting as well – because it is easier not risking being noticed. I fight it on a daily basis.

No one ever changed the world by toeing the line.

Great post. Thanks.

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Stephen Mills March 13, 2010 at 8:48 pm

Hello Rob, thanks for that, I appreciate it.

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Sid Savara March 13, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Hey there Stephen,

Couldn’t agree with you more – and as far as 100 fans versus 1000 lukewarm fans, I think if you don’t take a stand for something, those 1000 lukewarm fans aren’t necessarily even lukewarm. They may not be fans at all, but since someone has never taken a stand, how true their are as fans has never been tested =)

I actually have this happen on occasion at my blog, I don’t try to be offensive, but I do try to lay out the reasons why I have a particular opinion. In some instances I have a fair number of my readers who disagree with me, but I think regardless they stick around – because at least they understand where I stand on the subject, and where I’m coming from.
.-= Sid Savara´s last blog ..Conversation Hacking – How To Make Small Talk Work For You =-.

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Stephen Mills March 13, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Hello Sid, I think you are right about the lukewarm non-fan thing. Thanks for your thoughts!

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Eduard @ People Skills Decoded March 13, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Hey Stephen,

I think taking o stand is a very important thing if you wanna have an impact in this world, leave a legacy (an every person I know does). It it also a big challenge because taking a strong stand means risking to upset or alienate some people who do not share your strong beliefs. This is where courage come in.

PS: changed my blog’s name, as you can see :)

Cheers,

Eduard
.-= Eduard @ People Skills Decoded´s last blog ..I have people skills! =-.

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Stephen Mills March 13, 2010 at 8:52 pm

Hi Eduard, I do see the difference in your blog name. I like it!

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Lana-{Daring Clarity} March 13, 2010 at 4:58 pm

Stephen, that was powerful and so true! Trying to please everyone never leads to anything great. I say it this way – This is my Truth. Your Truth might be totally different and I accept it, but don’t expect me to agree with you, I will stand for my Truth only.
Loved Ronald Reagan’s quote too.

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Stephen Mills March 13, 2010 at 8:52 pm

Hi Lana, I’m glad you like it :-)

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zmajeva March 14, 2010 at 6:28 am

That’s right! To take a stand we have to trust in ourselves and have courage. That’s all we need to make a difference.
.-= zmajeva´s last blog ..WHAT’S YOUR BODY TYPE? =-.

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Stephen Mills March 15, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Hi zmajeva, thanks for taking the time to post a comment. Sometimes it does take courage to take a stand, but in the end you feel better about yourself.

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Tracy Todd March 14, 2010 at 9:32 am

This was just the advice I needed to hear today.

Thanks for a great post!
.-= Tracy Todd´s last blog ..What Happened to You? =-.

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Stephen Mills March 15, 2010 at 2:38 pm

Hello Tracy, thank you and you’re welcome :-)

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Cheryl Paris March 15, 2010 at 3:13 am

Hello Stephen,

Very eye opening post! Great way to express about taking a stand. We do need to take a stand. We will come across so many people who may not like but we sure will find true awesome fans if we stick and take a stand in what we do. But if we giev it up then for sure we will never find true /awesome fans.

Bye for now,
Cheryl
.-= Cheryl Paris´s last blog ..Saturday 9: Gimme Three Steps Girl =-.

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Stephen Mills March 15, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Hi Cheryl. People seem to be drawn to people who believe in something so if you want to lead, you need to give people something to follow. Thank you for stopping by.

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Tess The Bold Life March 15, 2010 at 11:03 am

I agree with Lana. If I disagree I will let you know. I’ll stick around because I grow when I disagree and learn another’s opinion. This is so true. I take a stand against pornography and help addicts unhook.
.-= Tess The Bold Life´s last blog ..The Rewards of Honoring Commitments =-.

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Stephen Mills March 15, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Hi Tess, I’ve change my mind about many things. My stance has obviously changed because I learned something from others. Thanks for the comment.

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Allison March 15, 2010 at 12:09 pm
Mary Breslin March 15, 2010 at 1:03 pm

I’ve spent a lot of years of my career taking stands, and at this point I think that there is something to be said for a different approach. At least when working as a member of a team — which is about 90%+ of the situations I find myself in these days — it seems a much better tactic to first try to understand what alternative directions are open to the team, then test my understanding of these directions with the team, and only then align myself with an alternative direction (which is energetically very different from taking a stand.) Somehow these days, taking a stand seems to do more to polarize than produce positive results.

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Stephen Mills March 15, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Hello Mary, I’ve read your comment a number of times trying to figure out exactly what it is you are disagreeing with and finally gave up. I assume you missed the poing of the article. You seem to be saying that you first try to understand the issue and the alternatives before taking a stand. OK, no argument from me.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills March 16, 2010 at 10:27 am

Stephen, this is so absolutely right on the money. Your concluding paragraph really hit home with me. If we make a habit of trying to play it safe by not standing up for our personal values we sacrifice a portion of our true self. That’s a high price to pay for being a crowd pleaser. This was just excellent.
.-= Jonathan – Advanced Life Skills´s last blog ..Aging, Can You Control It? =-.

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ZuzannaM March 16, 2010 at 9:29 pm

Hello, Stephen

I love the quote and always believed in truth and standing for the rights, either my co-workers or my own. Be it in politics or any other situation.

“If some among you fear taking a stand because you are afraid of reprisals from customers, clients, or even government, recognize that you are just feeding the crocodile hoping he’ll eat you last.” — Ronald Reagan

However, it cost me to loose my job when I stood for the rights of another.
Lived through it, found another job, and survived.
Thank you for your great post!

Much enjoyed reading!
Zuzanna
.-= ZuzannaM´s last blog ..TALL MOUNTAIN =-.

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Vin - NaturalBias March 19, 2010 at 8:28 am

Hey Stephen,

I too would rather have 100 superfans than 1000 casual fans, but prefer even more to have the satisfaction of actually having something to stand for, having a strong understanding of why I stand for it, and of course, staying true to it even if it means having no fans at all. After all, what good are superfans if you’re not yourself a superfan of your own beliefs?

Great topic!
.-= Vin – NaturalBias´s last blog ..The Frightening Uncertainty of Genetically Modified Foods =-.

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sam Cooper March 19, 2010 at 2:53 pm

“No matter how the wind blows, the mountain cannot bow to it.”…

This is just a simple yet strong and powerful phrase i will never forget from watching the movie mulan when i was young. I can relate this to a person with a stand. A person with a stand and principle hs the ability to go against the slow and continue to fight for his principles no matter what the society is dictating. Ive personally struggle through this process, specially when it comes to peer pressure. But i realized this is also like a test of charachter. i should be able to learn how to be resilient but not giving up for i believe is right. Great post.

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Nea | Self Improvement Saga March 21, 2010 at 5:59 pm

I love love love this post. My mother calls me a rebel because I’ll follow my gut and stand up for (or against) anything that I feel strongly about. I don’t think its rebellion. I see it as having strong character. Just because the majority isn’t in alignment with something, doesn’t mean the minority is wrong. It takes courage to stand strong–and I deeply admire those who are courageous. That includes you for posting this article. Much love to you.
.-= Nea | Self Improvement Saga´s last blog ..10 Ways to Live in the Now and Reawaken to the Present Moment =-.

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Doug L. January 14, 2014 at 7:44 pm

Well put. Personally, I’m not very interested in getting noticed or looking to make tsunami’s but I do try to operate with a definitive confidence when vocalizing or instituting my opinions and ideas professionally. I believe that is the core of your posting here; of which you’ve done nicely.

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