I’ve just ran a workshop at Sussex University about ‘overcoming’ our own limitations as change agents. Listening to the participants, there seemed to be two major themes: disbelief about their course providing the knowledge needed to effectively create change, and cynicism about one’s own ability to do anything about it, or in other words, a paralysis in finding their own unique way to contribute to the world.
No surprise, if your sphere of influence is not measuring up to what you know about the world, and if you hold the belief that you have to do something equally as big as the challenges you perceive. It seems that being satisfied with operating within your own sphere of influence in response to much greater spheres of challenges is only possible if you trust that other people will do the same, filling the gap between what you can do and what the world needs. If this mindset was really embodied in people, I recon that young adults would be less cynical and feel less anxiety ~ and hence be more effective as changemakers.
Inspiring adventure stories showing us how a tiny individual can make a huge difference (thinking Frodo) may actually not be that helpful anymore… As an Hopi Elder has said: “The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves!”
Buddhist scholar and eco-activist Joanna Macy argues that Western culture is going through a Great Turning, from the industrial growth society to a life-sustaining civilisation.
Stories of the Great Turning is a collection of stories of how individuals and groups are contributing to this revolution (edited by Peter Reason & Melanie Newman).
I’m contributing a chapter to this book based on the ‘idea’ that I’ve seen emerge in the people I work with: “I don’t want to be a passenger. I want to author my own life, and co-author the world around me.” Imagine if this idea was allowed to root in the bellies of young people today.
To be published early in 2013
I founded the Catalyst Course in 2009. It has come a long way… Here is the latest film about the course. Enjoy…
What happens when you put 55 youth together with 25 adults for 8 days?
A few weeks ago I worked on LifeBeat – a youth empowerment programme using the creative arts, and the creative community model that was developed by Charlie Murphy (PYE Global). Its a great programme for the youth – no doubt. And the reason why I blog about it is because of its empowering effect not only on youth, but also the volunteers. The impact it has on adults is – in my opinion- much greater than quite a few personal/leadership development programmes I know off.
Why? This is what I think contributes: Living in community together – with other diverse adults & teenagers; working in the service of others; taking creative risks through leading activities / workshops, and being invited to bring your gifts to others and to be authentic (teenagers just don’t ‘take’ in-authenticity – is that why adults find them so challenging?); the questions teenagers are asking themselves are still alive, yet often suppressed in adults.
Why is this important news? The need of personal growth / authentic leadership is great in these times of social and environmental challenges. So learning opportunities that facilitate this are needed. Yet, I belief the time of people getting together for a weeks course – to play some ‘games’, and sit in circle (or even watch some slides) – is over. A more systemic approach is – for example – LifeBeat. It provides a ‘service’ for youth, and at the same time a large amount of adults benefit – for free. Its the sweet-spot between a powerful learning experience and serving a need of our time. Elos work – for example the Warriors Without Weapons – is another example of such sweet spot. In times of economic hart ship, this may be even the ONLY way in which the majority of people can benefit from personal / leadership development programmes. And certainly, the learning that comes from interacting with and serving the ‘real needs of the world’ is more relevant to our times than games/models/theories that have arisen from an unsustainable paradigm.