Whenever you stand for a cause, raise your voice in connection to an issue or movement, pick a side, there will always be opposition.
When you have a cause that does not hurt others, the next step is figuring out how to get others to care. There will be those who do care automatically because the same issue may be close to their hearts but how can you appeal to people who just do not agree?
I wholeheartedly believe that in order to make true, lasting change in this world, you cannot strong arm your point.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
People argue all the time when they feel so strongly in how right they are and the person they feel is wrong just needs to see, believe and follow.
Even months later, I am still practicing and preaching what I learned. I still go over my event notes and reflect on the goals I set during that event and get excited about the goals I made progress on.
One page in my notes inspired today’s post. Session 6 of the event was titled “The M.A.D. Leadership Movement.” M.A.D. stands for Making A Difference.
That session was led by Brita Schmidt, Exceutive Director of Women for Women International. She talked about her challenges traveling the world and having difficult conversations with people who do not see the value in equality for women. She also talked about how necessary those challenges are in order to make a difference and achieve the goals to achieve equality in nations all over the world.
Brita has outstanding energy and passion for what she does. It is easy to talk about your passion with like-minded people but how do you keep that same passion and impact those who do not care?
Brita talked really practically about how we could make differences in our own respectives movements. Your movement could be gender, wage or racial equality. Your movement could be linked to education, the arts, workforce development, the criminal justice system, environmental issues or whatever you are passionate about getting others to care about too.
Brita talked about sometimes needing to dial down her energy and meet people where they are before turning up the volume up by a little. It is important to:
1. Know Your Audience
She talked about having to discuss why people should care about what she was fighting for. She would try to discuss women equality in nations where that is not the norm or with powerful business investers who were men and wanted to see the numbers over hearing the powerful life stories of the women she worked with and wanting change because of that.
Brita had to know her audience and use that to build their trust of her and thus her influence with them. She had to gain their respect and offer solutions instead of just telling them they were wrong and she was right. She did not change her passionate message but sometimes had to package it differently. Have you ever needed to do that?
In countries where it is difficult, Brita might appeal to the men with training, resources and ideas that are helping them see the value in treating women equally without directly disrespecting traditions or values. When she meets with men who will ignore her emotional stories, she prepares the reports and numbers so she can still provide the stories but in a form that grants her an audience with the policy and changemakers.
Sometimes it is necessary to be creative about making a difference if you want to be taken seriously.
The other big thing to remember is:
2. Be Patient
When we see the need for change whether at work, at home, major worldly injustices or anything else, patience is required. To right injustices, seeds of justice must be planted and cultivated to outgrow the injustices. When the new tree is mature, it can no longer give root to what came before it.
I want it to happen overnight too. But it won’t even when you have waited far too long already.
3. Be the Change You Wish to See
Take action today.
“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. …We need not wait to see what others do.”
In this world today there is a lot of hurt. Hurt people, hurt people. A lot of little changes would make all the difference. There will always be opposition but when there is opportunity to make change, take it and include others along with you.
Every chance to make the world a more thoughtful, safe and welcoming place will increase your brave. May you always be brave and wise enough to navigate the complicated streets we all live on.