Category Archives: Get Involved

Easier to Pull than to Push

How do we make things happen? What does it take to create real change in this world? Who gets to leave a legacy behind? These are the questions that I have pondered through many of my Quarter Life Crises. (You can check out more at: Writing of a Quarter Life Crisis.)  And I couldn’t quite explain this for myself until the phrase – “it’s easier to lead with a pull than a push” – was mentioned to me earlier this year.

I’ve been an “activist” for a long time. When you read that word, what do you think? Often, it conjures up images of rallies, and large signs; sounds of people yelling from soap boxes and angry chants from mobs taking over the streets. For me, though, it means that I have studied the status quo, compared it to my personal ethics, and realized that I have to do something to make the world more into the ethical place I want to live in.  I actively challenge the status quo through my individual behaviour.

There are several ways to change the world; and I’ve been a part of quite a few. I have a confession to make, though: I have never been to a rally. I heard about a lot of them in university, and my interest was peaked a few times, but I was never convinced that it was the right way for me to change the world.  I know several activists who regularly attend, participate in, and even organize rallies for change – and I commend them for the hard work they are doing. But, this is not how I am changing the world   Mostly this comes from my realization early on that, well, you see…I hate conflict!

This idea – to pull rather than push – resonated with me deeply when I first heard it.  It came in response to my question to a group, “What qualities make for a great leader?” The responder pulled it from a quote that “it is easier to lead by pulling rather than pushing others to follow you.” Yes!

I want you to think of a leader that was appointed to their position of supervisor, manager, or something else along the lines.  Perhaps there was no other qualified person around, or they had the potential but lacked the training of how to lead. Do they encourage, motivate or pull their employees or followers to get the work done? Or, instead, do they demand, instruct, or push their employees to do what they say? I know which type of leader I would much rather follow. I follow the leaders that lead by example, encourage me when I’m not quite sure what to do, or motivate me to pull myself up to their level. I prefer leaders who pull me rather than push me.

When I apply this thought to my own life, and my biggest commitment to a cause, I think of my fiancé and my vegan lifestyle.  My fiancé and I were friends for years before we started dating.  A few months into the new relationship, a mutual friend of ours commented to me that she never imagined us together because I was a very opinionated vegan and my fiancé – at that time – loved eating meat. I love remembering this impression of our lives, and it serves as a benchmark for how much we have influenced one another. I have never even asked my fiancé to stop eating meat or consuming animal products; instead, I cooked many of our early meals and shared a cookbook with him that teaches him easy substitutes and – as he remarks – inspires him to be more creative. When he first asked if he could bring a non-vegan treat into our home, I was a bit taken aback – because it was his house, too – and so much more flattered that he cared that much about my values to ask permission.  Soon enough, he had reduced his consumption of animal products even outside of our house to the point where he is now a pescatarian, but not for the same reasons I am. How did this happen? Well, I calmly shared my reasons for making this change to my lifestyle, and he was inspired by some of the minor reasons I provided.  My fiancé is also a very compassionate, respectful, and open-minded individual. Those were three of the values that led me to choosing a plant-based diet and vegan lifestyle. Through his acceptance and respect of my choices, I have become even more compassionate towards people that don’t always agree with my choices, and he has illustrated how you don’t have to be extremely passionate about something (such as the end of factory farming) to contribute to its success.

What about your activism? What inspired you to be a part a movement you care about, such as veganism, the end of poverty or feminism? How do you show up as an activist leader? Do you pull people into your cause, or push them? Are you getting frustrated with the level of engagement? If so, I would love to talk! Contact me below to set up a free Activist-Engagement Session.

Celebrating Our Successes

Celebration Time! exploding in a rainbow of colours
Time to Celebrate!

There is one summer – above all other times in my life – that I go back to with frequency.  That summer, I learned so much about my strengths. That summer, I learned so much about my resiliency. That summer, I learned so much about how to change the world…

It was four years ago, and I was driven to make a difference. Like everything I’d ever done before, I was inspired to create something I wished someone had created for me: a festival celebrating the uniqueness of a hidden community in my city.  I had recently joined this community, and I wanted more people like me – the lost individuals trying to find someone who understood – to know that it existed. Plus, I wanted us to be proud of who we were, rather than having us focus on coping mechanisms for being “different” and a “burden” to the people around us. For the first time in a long time, my community was the place where I felt truly accepted, respected, and listened to. We needed to share those feelings with everybody!

And I did!  Without any experience in project management, event-planning, or volunteer coordination, I created a festival for the vegan and vegetarian community of Edmonton. And I gained a ton of tools for my tool box in the process!

With my packed tool box, an amazing sea change occurred in my life. I was offered a leadership position in a burgeoning vegetarian-friendly corporation, I made some amazing friends and met many more influential people in my community, and I began my first speaking engagements, introducing the festival to many more new community members.

The festival lasted a month. A lot of that month went by in such a blur that I have trouble recalling everything that we achieved. What I do know is that it was a success. It brought a lot of attention to our little non-profit group, and everybody involved learned something more about event-planning, volunteer orientation, and community-building.  What a success!

team_celebration_pc_1600_clrWe never celebrated that success. Our wrap-up party was weeks later, and combined with a regular monthly event. We should have had a separate event.  Even a small group meeting where we discussed what we had learned and what had been the most successful part would have been a major asset to the festival and our developing skill sets. Instead, our month of celebration just fizzled out…

Through The Art & Science of Coaching training, I learned about the four stages of any life project. There is Inspiration, Implementation, Value Integration, and Celebration.  Each aspect is important in personal growth and development; however, often times we only assign value to the first two stages: inspiration and implementation. Did you realize a solution? Did you follow through on your solution? Great, next project.  That was definitely what I did with organizing my first festival.

When we move into the last two stages, though, transformation occurs. What value did this project add to your life? For my project, I gained more confidence, determination, resiliency, a new skill set, and a passion for creating community. I didn’t recognize those things at the time, but each time I think back to “that summer,” these new values scream out at me as to why “that summer” was so powerful.

What about the fourth stage: Celebration?

Marilyn Atkinson, the founder of Erickson International, where I took my coach training, defines this stage as “Completion and Satisfaction.”  In her book, Inner Dynamics of Coaching, Atkinson writes that “(w)hen you redefine the word completion to mean ‘having learned something of value,’ you easily allow yourself to acknowledge what you have done.” She continues, “(w)hen you have learned what you needed or wanted to learn, your energy becomes joyful and inspires you to play the game again, perhaps in a bigger, bolder way.”

Did I do any of that with my festival? No. Not until I started being coached. In my coaching sessions, I started realizing how much that summer strengthened me.  I worked through the value of going through it, and acknowledged everything that I had learned during the process:

“Woohoo! I did it. The festival was a success! I learned how to get the license to show documentaries. I used social media to create a celebratory movement of Edmonton’s vegetarians and vegans. I promoted the solutions that exist in our city, rather than getting stuck in what needed to change – and now Edmonton continues to explode with vegan-preneurs! I use this new skill set in each new project I undertake: from empowering staff to launching my own company. I have a deeper understanding of what is needed to get people out to events, and my future projects will be even better!”

8i6oyeyKTNow, it’s your turn. What project have you completed that needs celebrating?  What have you learned during the project? Now that you have done this, how can you make it even bigger and better next time? Share below.