This weekend I worked with a group junior staff at a certain organization. Part of what we did was workshop what could be done to make their organization more eco-effective or even–a word I like better–“regenerative.”
The group elected four representatives to approach senior staff with ideas. I sensed frustration in them and sent them the note below.
Maybe someone else who is trying to create change within their organization might find it helpful, too, so I’m posting parts of it here.
Remember that the best way to cause lasting change is to inspire it rather than to force it. People rebel against force and will make a point of returning to their own ways as a deliberate and understandable act of opposition.
Self-determination is a high human need. Not just for us but for those whose minds we seek to change. So, to facilitate lasting change, self-determination must be left in tact. To do that means to inspire instead of force.
The master works by allowing the people to think it was their own idea!
When Isabella, my little girl, gets frustrated, she sometimes gives up. Later, I can encourage her to try again, when her frustration has subsided and her curiosity has returned. It would be wrong (and counterproductive) of me to be mad at her for taking a break. Frustration and rest is part of the cyclical process of moving forward.
Don’t be mad at coworkers if you perceive them as giving up. Be loving parents and encourage them with love to try some more! You may say that’s all very well for treatment of Isabella but we have moved on from the playground sandbox. Not correct! Believe me when I tell you that the dynamics of the playground sandbox are never left behind.
So when I am present and loving and Isabella resists that something that is good for her, I take a step back and ask myself how I can a lovingly make her think that it is a good idea for herself.
For example, we were camping last week and, at twilight, the bats came out. Bella said, I don’t like bats, Dad. Well, I don’t like it when Bella says she doesn’t like any sort of animal so, when I lose my seat, my automatic response is to argue with her and try to simply force her to like bats (how silly of me!).
But this time I was graced not to let my own issues get in the way and I simply said that the bats were there to eat the mosquitoes. Well, it turns out that Bella likes mosquitoes less than bats. She said, “I like bats, Dad!”
Don’t be mad at your co-workers for not liking your bats. Instead, show them how your bats eat their mosquitoes.
Be careful not to confuse helping the world with fighting a power dynamic that you don’t like. Rebellion may have it’s place but it must be used meticulously and only where you are sure it will achieve your ends. In this case, it will probably be love and understanding that is your key.
Of course, it’s your relationship–not mine–so you know better than me what’s best. Please consider this just a supportive email from a man who never quite knows when to shut his mouth and who wishes his tummy weren’t quite so big.