Jun 272013
 

making a cultural shift2

How do we embrace the challenges that we face today as well as tomorrow’s promises? To do this we must lead with hope and optimism, with vision.

If we really want to create change in the world, it begins with “me” — with [insert your name].

We are all leaders although some may be playing many different roles. Some lead in the front, some within, and some lead while following. But unless we are leading in the way that is grounded in our values and leads by the example of what we are trying to build, we aren’t able to create the change we want.

We’ve all heard Mahatma Gandhi’s quote: “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” But have we truly explored and understand what this means for us – especially what it means for you?

We come from a reactive culture that is fixated on problem solving. We examine problems and work to fix them. What would it look like to live proactively into only thinking about solutions? To live into what we are creating, what we want, being the change we wish to see.

Before you pass this idea off as to Pollyannaish, unrealistic, or just too woo-woo, let me share a recent experience I had. I was accepted and sponsored to attend the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University in a year- long program called “Deep Dive Leadership.”

Out of 60+ people, I am the only social change activist in the group. Others head up or hold high positions within large, multi-national corporations, banks, and hospitals. Many of the companies were names I recognized.

In our first week, we were learning about visioning, mindfulness, and how to lead from a positive, relationship-based place. So why was I in a group of business people learning things that I already knew about, believed in and worked for in my years of training? Because these business leaders have figured out it is the most effective way to lead – to work in balance. To lead with hope has now been “proven,” through years of scientific research and studies, to be the most successful and the most profitable. They have proven that the mindful and hopeful leadership approach is the way to win!

So why should we care about the “proof?” It was interesting and affirming for me to see brain scans and data of leaders who begin to think and work in a different way. It was fascinating to learn about how much more effective you can be by incorporating these practices into your leadership and to hear how companies have been able to turn around and increase their productivity multiple times.

My real interest, however, is how do we start to work this way, to be the change we want to see within the social justice movement? How do we learn to inspire hope and action in the majority of people? How do we reach beyond the choir to create a force of power with which no amount of money can contend?

What I learned in that first week of training is that real change begins with me – with you. Until we can embrace our own visions, our own ability to work from a visionary and relationship-based place, we can’t teach others. And to be successful we have to change the way we lead.

I want to bring you with me on this journey of learning and will continue to write monthly blogs as I dig deeply within myself as a leader and learn how to be more effective and more powerful.

In my first week of being home, I have crafted out time to do a year-long workplan to prioritize and instead of trying to move forward with the belief I have to do it ALL, figure out what I will “Do, Delegate, Delay or Delete”. I am working to assess what I can do excellently, while keeping the balance of health, love, play and mindfulness in my life. This is one step for me to become a better leader. What is yours?

Making a Cultural Shift Exercise #3:

Take time to reflect on yourself as a leader. Are you trying to do it all? Are you working with balance in your life? Are your staff and/or co-workers inspired and excited about working with you? Do you bring the best out of those you work with? Are you happy and inspired in the work you do? If not, it is time to take stock and look at ways to change your leadership.

Below I have listed the first book that we are working from that is about emotional intelligence, relationships, and sustaining your effectiveness.  It is filled with exercises that help you evaluate yourself as a leader from many different perspectives.  It also helps you prepare and develop a 15 year vision for yourself.  I recommend reading and working the exercises in this book as a first step in becoming the leader you want to be.

Becoming a Resonant Leader, by Annie McKee, Richard Boyatzis, Frances Johnston, Harvard Business Press

Becoming a Resonant Leader resonates with the basic leadership truth that when we have the courage to reach for our personal dreams, we also inspire those we lead with a vision of optimism and hope.  There is nothing more powerful than leaders who let their passion shine through.”

Andrea Jung, CEO, Avon Products Inc

 

 

 

Jun 252013
 

listening project logo2
This year we are actively cross-pollinating our networks and are bringing together PCN (Progressive Communicators Network) and ECOC (Education Circle of Change) to work on a listening project dedicated to the Education Justice movement. We’re gathering stories that depict the reality of communities across this nation, supporting communities to reimagine public education, and distilling those stories to create messaging that will help inform and fuel our movements.  As you might know, stories help create powerful messages and in regards to the education justice movement we believe messaging is critical.

At Spirit in Action, we believe that a social justice communication strategy starts with listening and we want to know what people are facing in different school districts. We want to listen to people about the effects of privatization, downsizing of staff and teachers, and parents pushing for super-“security” in the wake of Newtown. We want people to become aware of our shared experiences and to be inspired to gather and share solutions.

Recognizing our work lives across the intersection of many social justice issues, we are convening PCN and ECOC to develop this important work together.

Our first listening will take place at the Free Minds, Free People (FMFP) conference in Chicago from July 11-14. We are sure that gathering in Chicago and will add many lessons for our movement building efforts and we look forward to sharing our learning with you in the coming months. If you will be at FMFP this year and have an interesting story and 15 minutes to be interviewed please let us know. We look forward to being in community with you and hearing your voices.

Jun 132013
 

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Pete Seeger, Charis Horton, Rosa Parks and the Rev. Ralph Abernathy at the Highlander Center in 1957. (Pete Seeger)

In a recent article Waging Nonviolence writes about the 8 skills of a well trained activist. For activist in the field its a great read .  They also mention the work of Sprit in Action in the article and we are so honored to be reconized for the work we love to do and our contribution to movement building.

Waging Nonviolence is a source for original news and analysis about struggles for justice and peace around the globe. Ordinary people build power using nonviolent strategies and tactics every day, even under the most difficult of circumstances, yet these stories often go unnoticed or misunderstood by a media industry fixated on violence and celebrity. Since 2009, WNV has been reporting on these people-powered struggles and helping their participants learn from one another, because we know that they can and do change the world.

To read the full article click the link below.

http://wagingnonviolence.org/feature/8-skills-of-a-well-trained-activist/