I am not going to pretend that I could successfully write out all the facets of becoming a cult leader in one simple blog post.
And really, this is just a #plap that will help me get some ideas together to see how it sits on my brainspace.
(brainspace, which I might add, that is becoming less and less free these days)
So here – because you’re special, because you’re one of the few who have found this blog, I am going to show you a little peek behind the curtain while I squish these thoughts into something tangible.
What are the top high level elements that you need to know or practice in order to build yourself a cult?
- You have to be a good leader. (leadership)
- You need to create a language that people want to repeat. (inclusion)
- You have to stand for some things, and stand against other things. (shared ethics)
- You have to promise a transformation that people want, in their own words. (transformation)
- You have to elicit an emotion that gets people to want to go to battle for you. (meaningfulness)
Be A Good Leader
Oh man. so it’s probably the most important and there’s no way I can just “teach you how to be a good leader.” It’s so subjective!
But here is my first swipe about what a good leader looks like:
A good leader inspires trust in their people. They protect and defend their people and also behave in ways that are predictable and good-natured. A good leader is someone who people know will be able to act in their best interest. And as you’re focusing on being one, know that there are a LOT of great leaders out there – some in positions of authority, others not.
A good leader listens and acts like a representation or an extension to their people. They defend their territory but also encourage their followers to be the best people they can be. A good leader sets the tone of the community and acts as an example of what behavior is accepted/expected.
Your Own Private Language
Part of a cult following is having an inclusive language.
Of course you could find something other than language to create this sense of inclusiveness – some communities use a uniform & others might use a set physical meeting location… I’ve found that for an online community, the most reasonable tool of inclusion would be to create a special language – so that the people of the community feel like knowing the meanings of the words makes them special, too.
Like part of the club.
Language acquisition happens inherently in humans who hang around each other. Of the weird or catchy stuff you say, I can assure you that you acquired it from someone you spent a lot of time with. Either in person or in sheer time spent – so watching a season of a show would allow you to acquire language, too.
But when you repeat the words you hear, eventually you associate those words with where you learned it from – reminding you of sense of ownership or belonging. Plus, when you speak the language in front of newbies, and they ask what those things mean, you get to turn around and teach them what you just learned, which gives you a sense of authority – aka positioning.
Stand for Something Good
Have you ever heard anyone in the business/marketing space say you need to throw rocks? I think I first heard it from Russell Brunson from Clickfunnels – though seriously it could have been any marketer because it’s THAT much of a principle for making people know they want to buy your stuff.
And we’re not talking about getting people to buy your stuff – rather this is about people buying in on YOU and who you are. Why they want to nominate you as their leader, and so on.
So this bit of advice is basically across the board. In all relationships. In the people who you sell to – and the people you want following you in your cult following. 😉
You’ve got to state an opinion. Stand for something. Stand against the opposite. “Throw rocks” or publicly state why it is that the opposite of what you stand for is wrong. The single biggest reason why someone fails as a cult leader is because they are not enthusiastically standing up for what they believe is true and vocally and emphatically speaking out against what they believe is not right or not true.
FACT: You will NOT create a cult following without this element.
Transform Their World
Along with picking the things you stand for and shouting out against those things you stand against, you have to offer a vision to your people. Paint a picture of the better life that they get simply by associating with you, or by learning what it is you have to teach.
Make it clear – you can describe it when you stand up for what you believe in.
Communicate this transformation to them on a regular basis. Let them know it’s safe to dream big when it comes to what they really want from life.
And draw the line from point A (where they currently are) to point B (where they are going with you).
A person must have hopes and dreams in order to willingly move in any direction – without this defined outcome, there’s nothing to compel them to take action (in following you) vs. allowing themselves to toss along down the river with or without you in the lead.
If your people can’t see the forest for the trees – they definitely won’t stick to you. There’s nothing in compel them or inspire them. They don’t have a purpose until they know there’s a way.
Use Their Emotion To Your Benefit
This sounds incredibly manipulative, and if we’re being really truthful here, it is.
So before you go on to read this final element, I want you to take a moment to really examine what is in your heart, here.
What are your intentions with these people? Do you want what’s good for you? Or are you thinking about what is good for them?
Truly if you continue on to manipulate peoples’ emotions in an effort to get them to follow you, you better be very certain that you’re doing what’s right for people. Because people don’t make decisions based off of what they’re rational about. Same for selling. They don’t buy for rationality.
They buy for emotions.
That being said, no cult has ever been created that didn’t capitalize on how people feel when they’re around you (or the “thing” you’ve created). Which means that on some level – you’re going to go back to what you stand for, and allow yourself to get emotional about it. And you’re going to go back to what you stand against, and you’re going to let yourself express those emotions on some level. Publicly.
And when you provide good things for your people, they’re going to feel emotionally indebted to you for those things. Which means that when it’s time for you to ask them to return a favor to you, they are a billion times more inclined to say yes.
Because as they experience you, and being part of your world, they feel something.
If you choose to ignore this part, you could potentially create a following, but it wouldn’t be a strong one. As a leader who is preparing the masses to go into battle to defend your cause, you must actually give them something to be emotionally vested in, or else they’ll bounce as soon as they come up against the slightest rational resistance.
Not everyone I know will be capable of using these tools in way that is ethically good or appropriate. This is a fact about humanity that I can’t change or necessarily impact on my own.
However, I believe you will do the right thing. Every day we’re given the opportunity to make better choices for ourselves and for others, and today I trust you will read these bits and do what’s best for your people, without being a slimey douchebag.
If you have questions, I hope you’ll leave them in the comments below. Obviously I can’t teach you everything I know about creating a cult in one little blog post – but it would be nice to know if you have any holes or objections in your understanding before I publish the next article on this subject.
tata for now,