The Challenge of the Change Agent
My wonderful problem solving self is one of my greatest barriers to creating change in my community. I am a social entrepreneur. If a problem or opportunity catches my heart and my mind, I set to work on addressing it, or on making it a reality. This is a wonderful capacity. It has allowed me to manifest much in the past and yet I am also increasingly seeing how it does not always serve me, or those whom I seek to serve.
Much of my work has been with rural communities, women in particular. An important part of my journey has been about reaching out to help them ignite their passion and energy for change. They are not problems to be solved (which in my experience the development sector often turns them into). They are an important key to a different future – as we learn to unlock and release the unique and beautiful possibility that resides in each one of us.
And yet, one of my biggest challenges at this time comes from an impulse, in the face of much need, to rush it. When I see a problem, oftentimes my mind jumps into solution mode, and I wish to surge ahead. This may be a wonderful trait of the social entrepreneur, and yet I am noticing that given my wish to build a deeper change in people and our capacity to generate solutions and innovations together, my impulse to action in many ways inadvertently belittles their power, their capacity, their view.
How then to stand in my power, and honour and invite in theirs?
I am learning, once again, to slow down. Real change takes time. It requires attention and care to invite others in and to build the collective ground from which much more can grow. It requires curiosity, and a weaving of relationships. It requires us to come together as a community identifying what we really care about, and then slowly but surely taking the steps to move towards that. It may include reaching out to others to join us, but it is about walking together, trusting that we have what we need, and that together we can make our way into the kind of future we wish to live. In this much more integrated and whole place, I can offer my gifts and my power, not from my busy problem-solving mind, but out of my connection to the whole.
So how does an online community support this work, which is in so many ways about sinking local roots and developing real presence where we are?
An online community reminds us that we are not alone. It gives the gift of walking alongside others who are engaging with fundamental change in a different way, that invites all of us in. It gives courage and energy to carry on. It provides perspective, lessons and ideas from other contexts. Sometimes even deep friendships. It reminds us: We are a part of a worldwide movement of change.