The Midnight Ride of William Dawes – Who’s That You Say?

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

A part of American history that even sleepy fifth graders (and their parents) know is that Paul Revere rode to warn people that “the British are coming.” But not so many know that William Dawes rode that night in 1775. In fact, he rode further and warned more people. So why didn’t Longfellow write a poem about him?

Some speculate that Revere was more connected. He knew people. He served on committees. And the people he warned were influential leaders like Sam Adams. Revere left a written first-person account. He liked to talk. And he lived in Boston, whereas Dawes moved out of town.

So what’s this got to do with change management, I hear you mutter. It goes to Level 3 support or resistance. Do people even know who you are? When your name comes up, do people look quizzical trying to place that name with a face? Or, do people roll their eyes when your name is mentioned? Or, ideally, do they smile, knowing that you are on the job?

The answer to that question says a lot about how easy or hard it will be for you to get others interested in your ideas. Too often, we think that just doing a good job is enough. We think we can hide our light under a bushel, and people will search us out looking for our wisdom. That rarely happens.