I think all success or high performance at some level, requires genuine service towards encouraging change.
I have spent time thinking about if there is a formula to change making – what do the best change makers all have in common that enables them to serve others and the communities that they are from?? I think I have something, loosely!
Change making to me regardless of its nature should be embedded in a few different forms of awareness: self-awareness, structural awareness, and spiritual awareness.
“What makes me, and what has shaped my experiences of life up until this point?
Answers to this question can come in the form of personality tests (your typical big 5 or perhaps something like the enneagram), meditation, attitude/belief journaling and therapeutic exploration. These are all ways in which you can develop self-awareness. A lot of people talk about being self-aware, but the nature of the self is always changing through our interactions with and exposure to new ideas and experiences.
Change making is often viewed and observed at a societal level, but what creates a society is a collection of people who are aware of what makes them similar to each other as well as where potential differences may lie. Change making for me starts within, because if you don't know what you believe and how and why you have come to believe it, how can you work towards bringing about the change you want to see?
Privileges and “blind spots” are huge influencers on self-awareness too. We all possess privileges that we don't necessarily view as privileges. These privileges can be grounded in race, class, gender, sexuality, experiencing the world “neurotypically” ... Privileges exist everywhere. Understanding what privileges you possess, however uncomfortable this may be, helps you to identify your strengths and how you can advocate for others that may not possess the same privileges as you.
“What generally influences our collective body of culture?”
You may want to make change in a specific area of society, but institutions are often connected. These institutions can be government, schools, prisons, religion to name a few. These institutions, like human beings come with a history. They come with stories and insights into how they came to be as we see and experience them now.
Structural awareness comes from the marrying of past with present to work towards creating an idealized version of the future. It requires a look into history of institutions from the widest vantage point possible, not the one that glorifies one narrative and suppresses the others – the truth. Structural awareness requires us to acceptance that what we think we know about our culture may not be as rose tinted as we may have been led to believe... this enables you to begin looking at the world not how you have been taught to view or feel most comfortable viewing it, but through a more realistic lens.
I believe there is something, in all of us that we want to change in the world. Whether that is institutional racism, patriarchy and misogyny, the neurotypical approach to education in schools... Each space of exploration requires a marrying of past and present to think about what the future may look like. This structural awareness helps you to clearly identify areas that you can serve with your self -awareness.
“Where is my lineage located, and what can I bring with me or discard in my pursuit for a better future?”
Linked closely to structure and self, spiritual awareness is the exploration of ancestry and the bodies that make up you and your family's lineage. It is important we know where we come from, so that we can draw from or metabolize harmful ideas that have been passed down to us from generation to generation, or lean into stories of magnificence that we have not been told. If you want to make change, you need to make sure that you are not repeating the same toxic cycles of those that have gone before you. You also need to identify and tap into any skills or insights that your ancestors may have had. You may have the self-awareness and the structural awareness, but without an understanding of who has gone before, you cannot (in my eyes) fully grasp and account for the future that you want to be a part of.
This article was heavily influenced by a Winsider Podcast episode I released last week (at the time of writing). The Winsider Podcast aims to provide an insight into the minds and practices of high performers to provide clues and pathways for those wanting to change the world.
If there is anything that I have missed or skipped over in this article, please let me know! If you are attempting to learn from me, I would love to learn from you.
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