I was at a fundraiser last week where people were being honored as pioneers for the cause of diversity within the legal profession, and one of the presenters spoke about the qualities it takes to be what he referred to as a trailblazer.
He said that trailblazers are only really special in their ability to want to move beyond currently accepted limitations, whether those limitations are physical, mental, professional, socioeconomic, etc. Then, he asked the audience to imagine a very literal example of an explorer who confronts an impassable landscape and said that the only difference between that guy and everyone else was an equation of desire and curiosity. The explorer simply wanted to see what was on the other side and was willing to spend a great deal of his time and energy in that pursuit.
And, while I agree with this assessment, I think it’s only partly true.
This archetypal trailblazer probably exuded just enough desire and curiosity to inspire those around him to join his cause. I don’t believe that the ability to affect meaningful change happens in a vacuum, but rather as a result of many people who can come together to collaborate and create a network of support, shared ideas and encouragement.
The idea of the lone man-against-the-wilderness is a myth. We have always been in the same boat.