Just off a call where we were discussing what it takes to shift paradigms in indigenous social development. We noted that we hear a lot from people that they are busy and challenged and they need clear paths forward otherwise they are wasting their time.
I have a response to that.
We don’t know what we are doing. Everything we have been doing so far has resulted in what we have now. The work of social change – paradigm shifting social innovation – is not easy, clear or efficient. If you are up for it you will confront some of the the following, all of the time:
- Confusion about what we are doing.
- A temptation to blame others for where we are at.
- Conflict with people that tell you you are wasting their time.
- A feeling of being lost, overwhelmed or hopeless.
- Fear that if you try something and it fails, you will be fired, excluded or removed.
- Demands for accountability and reprimands if things don’t work out.
- Worry that you are wasting your time and that things are not going according to plan.
- A reluctance to pour yourself into something in case it fails.
- A reticence to look at behaviours that are holding you back.
Social change is not easy. Asking for it to be made easy is not fair. Leadership in this field needs to be able to host all of these emotional states, and to help people hold each other through very trying times. It is about resilience, the kind that is needed both when things fall apart AND when things take too long to come back together.
Everyone needs to be a leader here, everyone needs to recognize these states in themselves and hold others in compassion when they see them arising in others. Working with the emergent unknown requires pacing, a big heart, and a stout challenge. To create the experiments that help us forward we need to be gentle with judgment, but fiercely committed to harvesting and learning. We need to cultivate nuance, discernment, advocacy and inquiry rather than jumping to conclusions and demanding rational analytical responses to every situation.
You up for that?