“Some men have thousands of reasons why they cannot do what they want to, when all they need is one reason why they can.”
– Martha Graham
There are hundreds of reasons to take an active role in creating a better world. Here are just five of them.
You find yourself complaining a lot.
You find yourself starting too many sentences with phrases such as, “Why doesn’t somebody” or, “When are they going to.” You are that somebody.
Children depend on you.
Everyone can think of an issue where children are adversely affected through no fault of their own. The world needs to be safe for future generations.
You know more about the issues that you’re passionate about than most people do. You’ve already got a head start on creating a solution.
Nobody should have to live in fear.
Whether it’s fear of the unknown, fear of failing, or fear of what other people think, fear limits our choices, our options, and our opportunities. You have more courage than you know.
You need to eat, drink, and breathe in order to live.
Despite differences in political ideology, everyone has some fundamental common ground when it comes to life’s necessities. Consider starting with issues that touch these commonalities, and find some unlikely allies.
Like I said, there are hundreds more reasons. Those reasons are connected directly to your most closely held values. You care. How can you not act?
It is New Year’s Day, and my wish for you is to have a powerful 2017.
If you are committed to social change, the most important thing you can do right now is to remember that you are not powerless. The notion that you cannot do anything about the issues that bother you the most, is false. Here are three ideas to help you get rid of a feeling of powerlessness:
Stop relinquishing your power. Don’t give away the fundamental strengths that you possess. You may not have authority, but you always have power — and you don’t need anyone’s permission to use it (Read more about this idea here).
You are not alone. Find even one or two like-minded people. Organize. Your common self-interests will reveal even more power. Map your collective assets, and connect those assets to define actions (more here). Which brings us to one final recommendation . . .
Less talk, more action. Do something today. Once you’ve organized you group of allies, don’t be seduced into thinking that whining and complaining to each other is going to solve anything. Act. Accomplish small things. Those successes will attract more partners, who will bring even more assets to the table. In the words of the 14th Dalai Lama, “It is not enough to be compassionate – you must act.”
You are not powerless. Happy New Year.
I wrote a previous post, “When You’re Ready to Move from Talk to Action.” It focused on troubleshooting the implementation of strategies, campaigns, or projects. There is, of course, a point in time prior to the carrying out of plans, when a conscious decision is made to move from theory to the actual work of creating change.
My primary interest is how to better understand leadership around social change. I do recognize, however, that a considerable amount of the writing on topics in both leadership, and change comes out of the worlds of organizational development and organizational leadership. Some of it is universally useful.
I recently came across an image (below) in a blog post by Simon Terry, a consultant in the field of organizational development and leadership, which reminded me that regardless of the scale of change, organizational, or societal, some underlying questions remain the same. Regardless of the change you seek, the question that is going to get things done is: “why don’t we?”
Image: Simon Terry
The question of how to make that transformation straddles the planning, and the implementation stages. How implies a plan exists. “Why don’t we . . .” implies that there is action
People who want to maintain the status quo:
- Why don’t we . . . study this a little further?
- Why don’t we . . . cover up the fact that this problem exists?
- Why don’t we . . . just have a cooling off period of an indeterminate time to let complaints and questions blow over?
People who want to create change:
- Why don’t we start working today to implement our plan for more effective, fair, and sustainable solutions?
Don’t wait for some mythical time when all risk will be mitigated. When you have a plan, work to make it happen.