View from behind woman sitting on bench inside box gazing at the ocean.

The cycle of adoption is fascinating and worth examining:

A grass-roots movement springs up because an individual or small number of people wants to change something.

The majority deride him/her/them as freakish, weird, anarchistic, communist — whatever is most discrediting to what these folks are trying to do and will easily brand them and their efforts as “other.”

The media reports on it — either echoing the disdain or championing the dissent.

Time passes.

Individuals in the majority grow dissatisfied with the same thing that motivated the small group to begin their shift.

These dissatisfied majority people “discover” what the small group has been talking about and doing for some time, and they migrate toward the former fringe group’s efforts, if not the group itself. Remember, they are freaks. But they may be on to something.

The media reports on it again — now citing trends and breaking news.

Business likewise sees an opportunity. What would have been too edgy before, now seems forward thinking and useful so they find ways to ride the wave.

The majority begins investigating it and adopting it.

It becomes mainstream.

Organic food is a perfect example of this phenomenon.

What was once viewed as a bunch of hippie hype and totally “fringe” in the 70s and 80s, has now become a mainstream consumer focus as more people grow concerned with the chemical dependency and food modification programs of agri-businesses.

Likewise, the concept of “green” building.

Previously considered only the purview of radical hippies, suddenly the ideas of stewarding natural resources, living lightly on the grid, and recycling — of mindful consumption and disposal — are being adopted everywhere.

Was it the math that finally got the majority’s attention?

When it was about “Mother Earth,” perhaps the message was obscured by the messengers?

Hard to say.

But at some point, there are enough accessible points of entry that many different kinds of people can find their way in.

And unlikely coalitions are born.

Where do you see this cycle appearing in your life?

Where are you in the minority pushing for change?

Or in the majority, deriding someone else’s efforts and distancing yourself from them to stay “safe?”

What would you gain by seeing their desire for change as an opportunity rather than a threat?

Photo credit: Gabi Witthaus via / CC BY-NC-SA

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About The Author

Andrew Mellen's picture

Andrew Mellen is an organizational expert, public speaker, and the #1 best-selling author of Unstuff Your Life!

Andrew has helped tens of thousands of people worldwide to declutter and simplify their lives while regaining time for the things that matter.

A sought-after authority on organizing and productivity, Andrew's addressed audiences from The Great British Business Show to TEDx. 

Corporate clients include American Express, Genentech, NetApp, Time, Inc., and the US Depts. of Education and Homeland Security.

The media has dubbed Andrew “The Most Organized Man in America.” He writes a featured column called “Ask The Organizer” in Real Simple. In addition, he has written for and/or appeared in: The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Oprah Magazine, America Now, The Lisa Oz Show, The Nate Berkus Show, Oprah & Friends, Martha Stewart Living Today, ABC, NBC, CBS, CW11, HGTV, DIY Network, LiveWell Network, KnowMoreTV, Better Homes & Gardens, Ladies' Home Journal, Woman's Day, Family Circle, USA Today, GQ, InStyle, All You, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Healthy UK, American Way, numerous trade and travel publications, and NPR.

He leads workshops and speaks internationally while maintaining a private practice working with clients ranging from Fortune 100 companies, trade associations, and non-profits to CEOs, award-winning filmmakers, and authors, as well as overwhelmed parents everywhere. 

In 2013, Andrew founded Unstuff U®, the world's first completely virtual personal organization training center, offering classes, workshops, and other online resources for businesses and individuals. 

Andrew is a member of the Experts Collective and serves on the faculty of the New York Open Center in New York City. He speaks frequently on the intersection of spirituality and organization at places including Omega Institute, San Francisco Zen Center, Tassajara, All Saints Church, JCC Manhattan, and the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment, among others.

Previously, Andrew was an award-winning playwright, actor, producer, and director and the former Artistic Director of Alice B. Theater (Seattle), DC Arts Center (Washington, DC), and Shuttle Theater Company (New York). He is a contributing author to Yes Is the Answer: (And Other Prog-Rock Tales).

Andrew lives by his motto: More Love, Less Stuff!® 

Find him on the web at

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