At ActionAble, we spend a lot of time thinking about taking action to create real impact in the world and what that means.
Traditionally, we’ve labelled those trying to really push for systemic change as activists, but something about the term doesn’t sit well with us…
We know from talking to our community that the term can seem extreme, a last resort rather than something that can be engaged in here and now. It implies gritting your teeth to struggle for an outcome that is distant and difficult to fathom. It can sound exclusive and inaccessible, requiring access to an in group or to act or speak a certain way and is therefore alienating to people. Most concerningly, it always seems to be haunted by the spectre of ‘burnout’, advocating pushing for change above all else, regardless of the consequences on personal health and relationships.
We believe there should be another term that describes taking meaningful action in a sustainable way that feels accessible to all. And that’s why we’ve come up with Activating.
So, how is it different?
An Activator believes that caring for myself is the same as caring for the world around me. Because they understand that these are two sides of the same coin. As any activist knows, straining against immovable, deep-seated systemic issues is exhausting work. This leads to ‘burnout’, meaning that, despite all their best intentions, they aren’t able to sustain the impact they are making.
We are in this for the long haul, and we need to be able to sustain our action-taking into the future. That means making sure we leave space to rest, reflect and recharge. And it means acting in a way that feels good, which builds on our skills, satisfies our interests and is in line with our values. When we do that, we not only ensure the longevity of the impact we can make, but are far more effective in the actions we do take.
An Activator believes that action-taking is for everybody. It is about meeting you where you are, how you are, with what you’ve got.
All of us have an opportunity to create impact from wherever we are throughout our days and lives, and we don’t need to be part of a wider movement or organisation to do so (although being part of one is also great!). We are already connected to something far bigger than ourselves, embedded in systems everywhere, large and small. We are citizens, consumers, community members, workers, family members and more. We can make a huge difference through engaging in any of these circles. In fact, these are the circles that we know and understand best, and where we can therefore make the biggest difference.
Finally, an Activator believes in creating virtuous spirals of positivity and, ultimately, action. They know that through acting from a ‘full cup’, through integrity and a deeply aligned sense of purpose, we send a signal out to the world to follow in our footsteps.
They understand that actions speak louder than words and that only through modelling compassion, patience and openness can we expect the world to move to where we want it to go. They empower and inspire others to be changemakers, showing them how good taking action can feel when it comes from a place of inspiration rather than obligation. They become ‘beacons of change’, not only shaping the world we want to see in the future but being the change they want to see now. In so doing, they set off powerful chain reactions of action, as those who are inspired and empowered by them inspire and empower others.
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
This quote (from civil rights activist Howard Thurman), more than anything else, was the inspiration behind our upcoming Activator programme. That is, an Activator — through a combination of joyful, aligned action, community integration and support and eventually going on to inspire and empower others — is someone who has come alive. And we want to help people do that because we believe that that is what the world needs.
In order to inspire you on your own Activator journey we will be hearing from someone who models our definition of activating perfectly at our upcoming event: From Activism To Activating (Wednesday 15th December, 12pm).
We will be hearing from Aneira Roose-McClew, co-founder of Trust the People and community champion, and her journey into becoming an engaged and active member of society.
And we’ll also tell you a bit more about our upcoming Activator programme, designed to support you in coming alive and to start making an impact in a way that works and feels good for you.