I often learn without even realizing it. My view of the world is shaped not just by in-depth classes and formal developmental programs, but also through small bits of information consumed over time. Images or photos inspire fresh ideas, quotes provide different perspectives, and a personal stories invite trying something new.
This awareness led me to experiment with social ways of engaging individuals. With many colleagues creating formal learning programs (e.g., webinar series, online classes, in-person development events), I began dabbling with micro blogs, thematic blogs, curation blogs, various types of campaigns, and more. People began to approach me for insight related to the topics I was sharing – initially, career growth, personal development, and leadership, and most recently, mindfulness and resilience.
This was part of the foundation that resulted in my quite unexpectedly leading a mindfulness movement (read highlights) inside the organization I work. That experience carried over when I was tapped by my executive leadership last year to support our leaders in strengthening their resilience. Both of these initiatives took on a life of their own – in effect, they became social movements.
A social movement is a group of people with a shared purpose who create change together. A movement can support cultural transformation and shift the ways people behave and engage. Read more about the definition of a social movement here and here.
Others tapped into their passion and began to bring to life the possibility they saw for their teams and organizations. They shared and reused resources, they connected with others who shared their interest, they started to co-create and seize their collective energy.
While I don’t claim to be an expert on creating social movements, I’ve been giving some thought to how I might have contributed to some exciting things happening in support of my organization’s transformation.
Put some “YOU” into it. People are hungry for connection, are inspired by something personal, and gravitate to what’s real. Tap into your interests, strengths, and experiences to engage and energize others in a unique way. Being too formal can create a distance between you and those you want to touch.
Meet others where they are. Sometimes other individuals are not able to see what you see or are not ready to join you. And, that’s OK. Where you meet resistance, take it as a sign the particular person or path may not be the way, and, either move on down the road, or adjust your course. Hold tight to your desired outcomes and loosely to your plans.
Be courageous. Finding co-creators who share your passion can be hard work. If you want people to connect with your ideas, they have to be able to find them. Be willing to go stand out in the field, alone and vulnerable, until someone else also sees the possibility out there and joins you. What you see and want matters. There ARE others who will see it and want it, too. They will come. Have faith. (Check out Derek Sivers TedTalk)
Passion is a powerful game-changer. Seizing your own and others passion is guaranteed to be messy, but the impact can be huge. Passion is not linear; it is chaotic. Passion is not additive; it is multiplicative. Without passion, you are just another sound in a noisy world. Sing your song with your special voice.
What you can’t see is real. Measuring transformation driven by passion can be difficult. Just because you can’t see or capture something, does not mean that it is not real or valuable. When what’s happening involves relationships formed, ideas generated, energy created, movement initiated, paths eliminated – all as precursors to action taken – you may have to get creative with your metrics (think stories and pictures that show individual accomplishments and collective impact).
Trust others’ brilliance. Be intentional about how you engage with others – at every turn. Each individual with whom you engage brings something unique, based on their personal experience, work environment, and cultural context. Be curious about how you can allow open space for co-creation. Try leaning into what others see as possible and letting go of your preconceived notions. Avoid the temptation to want to ‘get it right’ and do things the way you are most comfortable. Openness keeps things moving, however messily.
- What do you see as possible?
- What energizes and inspires you?
- How do you envision things being new or different?
- What impact to you want to have?
- What do others experience when engaging with you?
- What does being courageous and vulnerable look like for you?
- How do you invite people in?
- What does success look like?
- How can you capture your progress?
- What is the next small step you can take right now to move in the direction of creating what you see as possible?
Are you active in a cause that is meaningful to you? Are you leading a movement? I’d love to learn more about what you are passionate about and how you engage others on the journey…
* I took this photo in San Agustinillo, Mexico.