Thursday, November 8, 2012

Affecting Change

Is it possible to affect change by being on the outside but yelling at those on the inside because you don’t like what they are doing? This quandary is not only pertinent, but could also cause for some deep introspection.
At some point, the leadership of a group or organization will change. This is a definite statement. People do not live forever and their leadership roles must be relinquished upon death, if not sooner. What happens when the change people are looking for doesn't come to fruition? I return to my introductory question and ponder how people can legitimately affect change?
One would have to make the assumption that different situations would yield a different process and result. A great example where those on the outside yell at those on the inside to affect change would be fans of the clothing store Gap. At some point the marketing team for Gap decided it was time to change the logo, but they forgot to ask some of the most important people. Gap failed to give a voice to their most important shareholders, their customers. The switch back was almost instant and apologies streamed from Gap like never before. That was a way that a group of outsiders penetrated to the inside with what they had to say and it affected change.
However, this doesn't always work. We recently had an election in which President Obama was selected for an additional four-year term. Those on the right of the aisle are both distraught and upset. Instead of regrouping from the blow to their political hopes, some are choosing to yell. Yelling is showing up in many forms and social media has a way of helping complainers get their word out. In the end is that really going to affect the kind of change they want or even affect change at all?
My humble suggestion for an avenue to affect change is from within. There may not be a quick or easy way to get into the White House, but change that some people are calling for can be done locally. What would it look like if everyone who spent time complaining about politics, left or right, would focus their energy on offering legitimate change.
Get involved. Don’t sit on the sidelines and yell at those on the field, get in there and help. My guess is, it’s easier to sit back on the sidelines and complain and whine about how you would like the game to be played with this strategy rather than the one playing out before your eyes, but that won’t accomplish anything.
If you sit on the sideline for too long, bitterness will take hold. When bitterness takes hold you become like a virus to all surrounding you. Sure, you may have a few followers that caught the virus, but even more will distance themselves from you. When you lose your seats on the lower-level fifty-yard line and get pushed to the upper deck, your ability to impact and affect change will be lost.
Leadership isn't just about the leader; it’s also about the followers. If people follow you to that top corner of the stands, you haven’t only taken your voice, but theirs too.
Be a leader that affects change from being an active participant on the field, not the sideline. 

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