Resurrecting the Ordinary

The Quakers of the seventeenth century thought of themselves 
as “God’s ordinaries.” They meant ordinary in the sense that extraordinary acts are not reserved for the special few. They believed that we are all born with the capacity to be brave, to speak out and to make a difference.
So do I.

Small ‘l’ leadership is erupting. Traditional capital “L” leadership is declining. Leaders are no longer just the people at the front of the room or at the top of the pyramid or at the head of the parade. While todays leaders embody attributes we traditionally associate with leadership – vision, boldness, tenacity and moral character – they aren’t defined by traditional roles, expertise or divisions of labour.

You have an important role in transforming the world. Indeed, without you, it won’t happen. Tolstoy believed history is not created by one man or one woman but by an infinitely large number of infinitesimally small actions. That’s where you come in. Your small act – your gathering, letter, donation, protest, garden, partnership, organization or YouTube video – might be the one that opens the floodgates.

I dream that my new book Impact: Six Patterns to Spread Your Social Innovation will ignite what Pulitzer Prize–winning author Marilynne Robinson describes as a “resurrection of the ordinary.”

Resurrecting the ordinary means recognizing ordinary people and their extraordinary power.


“Love doesn’t mean doing extraordinary or heroic things. It means knowing how to do ordinary things with tenderness.” – Jean Vanier

Note: To celebrate Jean Vanier winning the prestigous 2015 Templeton Prize check out CBC Ideas, How to do Ordinary Things with Jean Vanier

“cause it was in Bobcaygeon where I saw the constellations reveal themselves one star at a time” – The Tragically Hip, “Bobcaygeon”

If you receive this post via e-mail and the video code was removed, please follow this link for some delightful listening.


 Share with others

One Comment

  1. Donna Thomson

    Wonderful, inspiring post, Al. The ordinary will out – it is at the core our activities as family caregivers and at the core of what is most meaningful in our lives. Small ‘l’ leadership transforms one voice into many. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>