We all tell ourselves things that may not be true, like when I say, “If I eat small pieces of this pie throughout the day, I’ll still be able to fit into my pants.” My brain tells me one thing, while the pile of pants that must have shrunken fill a thrift store-bound bag on my closet floor. Do you ever tell yourself that lie, or any of these others?
1) “I’m a really good communicator.” We all like to think we have ideas that we effectively communicate to others, that the listener understands. No offense, but you’re probably not as good a communicator as you think you are. I’ve concluded that about myself after 25 years of talking to people and asking them to do things, and that’s after I’ve taken workshops, seminars and trainings in communications. We can always improve there, so it’s something to keep working at. A related lie is
2) “I’m a really good listener.” Listening is more than just not talking; it’s about finding the meaning of what people are saying. Good listening is when you say, “Tell me more about it, explain it further, and give me some background.”
3) “We’re winning.” I spent some time on the West Coast, working as an editor for the newspaper of the far-out environmental movement. Frontline activists would send us their stories about actions around the country and we’d print them. Get enough articles like that together and you’d think most of the world agrees with you. Turns out, most of the world didn’t, and not only were we creating an echo chamber, but we led people to believe a movement had more momentum than it did, and was more clever than it was. Some people took those beliefs in an unskillful direction, burning things down and landing themselves in jail for many years. Lesson: Don’t believe your own media. And for god sake, don’t burn things down.
4) “We’re losing.” Celebrate your victories along the way. But they have to be real victories, like things that wouldn’t have happened anyway.
5) “I’m not attached to the outcome,” of a meeting or phone call or effort. If you walk into a meeting feeling needy or desperate for a yes, like you want to coerce someone, then you’re attached and are probably not listening to what the person across from you is actually saying. If you were truly detached, you’d listen for how you can help make someone’s life easier or help that person meet a personal or professional goal, even if it doesn’t involve you. You’ll have better luck—and less stress—being detached. Being detached doesn’t mean you don’t care, it means that you’re letting events unfold without having a stranglehold on them. You can shape events without clinging. Ask the Buddha, he knew.
Have you ever told yourself a lie we could learn from? I’d love to hear about it.
And if you haven’t already downloaded these free guides, you can get them at the links below. If you can think of other tools that would be helpful, please let me know.
One of the biggest challenges organizations have is the campaign planning process. To help serve them, I’ve created a guide of the 11 essential points that I use with organizations, as well as with my grad students at Johns Hopkins. In it you’ll find the critical elements your campaign must have. Use this as an easy reference guide for staff, volunteers & trainers.
- The 10 steps of power mapping
- The questions to ask and where to find answers
- Easy reference guide for staff, volunteers & trainers
- What coalitions do
- Who to recruit
- How to pick the best coalition name
- Attracting diverse coalition partners10
- Leadership & structure of coalitions