Ian Curtin has a unique background in business, labour and government. He understands the tough, complex swirl of personal and external variables that accompany change. His specialty is helping groups and organizations develop a mutually identified goal, "without anyone being diminished in the process." A few years ago at the request of visionary Brad Jarvis he helped create The Inner Activist – a thoughtful resource to nurture the emotional and spiritual maturity of changemakers. Ian is Program Director and regular blogger for of The Inner Activist. Here is Ian's contribution to: What would you like to become more visible in 2011? You can also Download Becoming Visible - the complete collection of 58 essays.
Congruence Between our Inner Selves and our Activism
Nelson Mandela is one of my heroes. The 92-year-old former president of South Africa and Nobel laureate has used his own self-knowledge and compassion to avert major bloodshed in his country. His compassionate understanding of what was in the hearts and minds of his opponents guided his actions. He was able to maintain his vision and integrity while navigating through the many pressures leadership brings. And given the extreme challenges he endured throughout his life, I am sure his personal mastery came with hard work.
Inner work takes courage. It takes guts to get out of the cycle of reactive righteousness, hopelessness and burn-out, that we, in our activist roles, often fall prey to. It takes commitment to develop the intra-personal, relational, self-care and spiritual skills that can make activism effective and sustainable.
I would like to see more of us exploring the importance of congruence between our inner selves and our actions in the outer world. Why? Because I believe as change agents we must first know a great deal about how change works within ourselves – how we take on or discard new values and beliefs – before we go about our work of encouraging others to change. Without some clear understanding of how we work as individuals, how can we be sure our efforts for change are going to be effective? I have spent over 25 years developing greater awareness within myself. I know first-hand how difficult it has been to shift my deeply held values and beliefs and to become aware of my blind spots: how I consciously use my rank and power, how I marginalize others, how my ego works, my communications style; the list goes on. Becoming aware of my own human frailties and limited perceptions has required a deep love for both myself and our world.
We have plenty of feedback these days that our collective blind spots continue to wreak havoc on our world. And our ability to live compassionately continues to elude us. We here at the Inner Activist Program have dedicated the last few years to developing learning experiences that will help social change agents develop the strength and personal mastery reflected in the work of great social change agents. We believe the current level of personal consciousness in the world is the central challenge in dealing with our global dilemmas: climate change, species extinction, genocide, widening gap between have and have not, etc. Our “rolling dialogue” over the past five years with North American social activists and personal development facilitators has made us aware that there is a sea-change taking place in personal consciousness within this region and other parts of the world.
The time for more focus on what continues to drive us towards the brink of extinction is now.
The Inner Activist program initiative is designed to contribute to a collectively more relational and loving way of being, sorely needed to address the major challenges of our time. Specifically, our intention is to offer in-depth training programs that encourage relational leadership skills and value our diverse natures and natural equality. These are core competencies for social activists/innovators. Congruence between one’s inner experience and one’s actions for change in the external world is essential for inspirational social change.
Our contribution to this goal is the creation of the Inner Activist program which commences this June and the Inner Essential eCourse. They are designed to help change makers, social entrepreneurs, leaders and activists, be radically more effective in their life-serving work. We don’t claim to have the answers, but we do have some powerful questions, dedicated and skilled faculty and experiential techniques to deepen the work of social change agents. For more information, visit www.inneractivist.com or contact our registrar.
See my previous post on Ian's work: The Inner Activist: A Site for Sore Eyes – Tips for Solution Based Advocacy
Please share and distribute to your friends and through your various networks, websites etc. I think you will agree – these are too good to keep to ourselves.