Have you ever taken a personality quiz or read your horoscope? (I bet you have!)
I’ll admit it, I’m drawn to personality or archetype tools and practices – from astrology to my Enneagram type – like a moth to a flame 🔥. If there’s a resource that helps me gain insight into who I am, who I serve, and how I need to show up to in the world, sign me up! It’s probably the same reason a million dog-eared personal development books live on my shelf.
And while I’m incredibly grateful for the clarity I have around my own service profile and the profiles of the creative entrepreneurs I’m uniquely equipped to help, the events of this year left me feeling incredibly unsure about how to show up and be of service on a more macro level. From BLM and social justice, to COVID, climate change, and the upcoming election – I felt called to do more than simply “educate myself” – yet unsure about what action I could, and should, take.
The more visible work – protesting, organizing, educating and mobilizing – didn’t feel accessible, at least not yet. But I knew there had to be SOMETHING I could do. I stuck with it and stuck with it, and then….
☁️ 🎶 Cue the clouds parting and angels singing 🎵 👼
Imagine my delight and sheer relief when my inquiry led me to the PERFECT next step towards imperfect action. And guess what? Those resources came in the form of my beloved archetypes and profiles! There were:
The Civic Power Profile (developed by Beyond the Ballot and SY Partners) and
Mapping Our Roles in Social Change Ecosystems by a social roles framework created by Deepa Iyer, SolidarityIs and Building Movement Project.
Suddenly it all made sense. Of course, we’d show up differently. And when we stayed in our lane (role) and collaborated with others who excelled in theirs, real change was possible.
“We all have power, though each of us wields it differently” – Beyond the Ballot
Having tried both frameworks on for size, I resonated most with the Weaver and Guide roles in Deepa Iyer’s framework. To me, that means I connect the dots between concepts, people, and actions and support and guide other folks along their own journey. I now know what my Civic Power Profile looks like, and more importantly, how I might take actions that align with it.
Ahhhhhh, the relief and clarity.
So, if you’ve been trying to make sense of where civic action aligns with your personality, gifts, creativity and purpose, read on for 5 steps you might consider to stay in, or deepen your own action.
1) Choose what matters to you
As I mentioned in my last post narrowing our focus in times of change or crisis makes us MUCH more effective. While you might feel motivated by many things – from your family and business all the way through to societal and global issues – the fact is, you can’t take action on all of them. As difficult as it will be, pick one or two areas that feel most urgent and resonant to you and make a clear intention to focus your efforts there.
2) Get curious and stay open
This is where taking responsibility for educating yourself comes to bear. Instead of looking to someone else to tell you what you should do (especially if that person is the one being marginalized or oppressed), do what you’d do with any other problem you want to resolve. Hit Google, read books, attend webinars, follow experts in the field. Now, this piece is critical – stay open. You’re going to feel challenged, defensive, uncomfortable, helpless, even stupid (sounds fun doesn’t it?), but it’s OK – none of those feelings will kill you. Resist the urge to defend yourself or your position and be receptive to learning. I have found that expecting those feelings to come up and silently repeating to myself “I receive it” is very powerful.
3) Talk to and learn from people in the know
I’ve always said I’m lazy in the best possible way. If I want to learn/achieve/find/purchase something, I find someone who has already done the research and take their recommendation. Now, this point may feel like a contraction to #2, so I want to be clear: this step is about finding people, movements, and organizations you can support with your resources of money, skills, and time rather than taking advantage of someone else’s emotional labor. For example, during a conversation with the director of my kids’ pre-school, I learned she’s very knowledgeable about and involved in local politics (which I know understand is where real community impact and change is made). I asked how we could help and we’re going to get together and chat more.
4) Invite diverse voices and content into your media feeds
It wasn’t until I consciously looked at my social media feed and podcast library that I realized how homogenous the voices and content were. I unfollowed a bunch of people and started to follow activists, artists, journalists, politicians, thinkers, and movements. That act alone has expanded my perspective immensely and has made social media a far more useful place for me to spend a few minutes.
5) Take small, but consistent actions
When it feels as if the world is going to hell in a hand basket, it can be easy to think that nothing you do will have any impact, so why bother. Change is a result of small, consistent actions taken by many people over time. We may not see the effects of those actions in our lifetime, and that has to be OK.
An example of this might be making small efforts to decrease your environmental impact. For example, when my phone gave up the ghost this weekend and I had to get a new one, I purchased this awesome compostable iPhone case instead of its landfill-destined friends. Will it save the earth? No, but it won’t hurt it either. As I said, small actions. Another small action is purchasing postcards to send to voters in battleground states and phone banking.
I appreciate your bearing with me as I process what’s going on through my writing and in this community. My wish is for us all to feel in alignment with our values, purpose, and way of contributing to a better future.
Now, I’d love to hear from you. What are you thinking about right now? What feels important, urgent even? What do you need to take your next step? Leave a comment below. We’re all in this together and I’m here to support you in any way I can!
References for this article:
Go Beyond the Ballot
Mapping roles in Social Ecosystem: Deepa Iyer, SolidarityIs and Building Movement Project
Postcards to Voters