10 Leadership Lessons From Rage Against The Machine

If you have ever heard of Rage Against The Machine you know they are loud, political and passionate. If you have ever seen Rage play live, you will never forget the experience. I have been a big RATM fan for a couple decades now and have seen them live several times. Their passion, message, and creativity have made an irrevocable imprint on me.

Love them or hate them, RATM has made a significant impact to music, politics and social reforms across the world. Here are 10 things they did to lead, affect change, and inspire millions.

Be a renegade. Change the status quo. RATM instantly swept across the political, social, and music landscape like a wildfire. They were a disruptive force in each of these areas that shaped who they were. They did not sugarcoat or apologize for who they were and they connected with the masses. People connect deeply with something they can identify with and RATM spoke to them.

Live inside your own heart
Understanding yourself and appreciating who you are and where your passion lies is one if the great challenges of life. These guys were put on this planet to make music that inspires people to listen, learn, and disrupt and they did just that with every album and every show.

Inspire others
Inspiration is not automatic. Even if your idea is awesome that doesn’t mean people will follow you. Changing peoples beliefs is very hard, unappreciative work. RATM knew that had to inspire people to see past the music and truly hear the words behind the music. In order to inspire others they had to be consistent, relentless, and strong with their message.

Don’t complain, organize. If anyone understood this it was Rage Against The Machine. They leveraged their tours to get millions of fans to sign petitions. They knew the power of the microphone and the media to get people organized to act on important issues.

Do not discriminate
Not only was RATM against any form of discrimination against color, religion or ethnicity, they did not discriminate against any who perpetrated such acts. They attacked anyone and everyone who was worthy. Their issues with societal norms are many and they applied pressure on all fronts indiscriminately.

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
Zach De La Rocha repeats his message constantly. In “Vietnow” he repeats “fear is your only God” 12 times. In “Bombtrack” he repeats “Burn, burn, yes ya gonna burn” 16 times and in “Killing in the name of” he repeats “And now you do what they told ya” 23 times. Whatever the message, repetition enforces the message over and over and over again. Any message requires this, even simple ones.

The message is the work
RATM was not a fan of non-live instruments. They played pretty much everything themselves on live instruments and did not use midi and other automation to make their records. This purist philosophy also applies to their image. No fancy advertising, no glitz and glam, yet they connected with millions of people using a few instruments and a very, very, very powerful message.

Wikipedia calls RATM an ‘American Rap Metal band’ – a convenient way to package such a diverse set of musical origins that no name can do justice to. The band was as innovative as they came in the 90’s. Tom Morello’s guitar style was unprecedented. The blend of punk, rap, metal, blues, latin, and world music genres was unheard of. Zach De La Rocha’s versatile and meaningful lyrics went beyond art and went into the roots of american music culture.

Wear your heart on your sleeve
I don’t like to mix my art styles. You are either political or you are artistic. My hackles go up a bit when the two mix. RATM never had this problem. From day 1, you know who RATM is and they never tried to be anything that they werent. When it didn’t work anymore, they gave it up and left a library of incredible music and even more incredible messages.

Grow some armor
Haters gonna hate, they say. This is always the case. Whether out of jealousy, fear, or conflict, people will try to hold you back, put you down, and question your ideas. Success is not for the weak of heart and it will take some armor to help you get there. RATM was very vocal, and very public. They no doubt had to defend their ideas, justify their methods, and grow some thick skin.

Whether you are starting a movement, a company, or a new job, find the same passion, innovation and voice that Rage Against The Machine had to inspire people to listen, organize, and act.

Image: http://www.imcreator.com/images/hands-3

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