In the wake of Martin Luther King’s birthday I wanted to share a quote with you that Scott, our designer, posted:
“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
I started thinking about ways we can do this, if not to the same magnitude as MLK, then just in our own worlds, homes, jobs and lives.
Here are nine ideas for how you can become a molder of consensus:
1. Decide what it is you are passionate enough about to bring about change.
While this isn’t always an easy thing to do start by looking at your daily life. What is it that brings you the most pleasure, or elicits the most emotional response? Do you get excited talking about the importance of exercise, or growing your own food? Do you feel outraged or highly charged when you think about certain political ideals or events? Can you go on and on for hours about a certain topic? These can be great indicators of things you are passionate about. Now, decide what it is you are passionate enough about that you need to act in order to mold consensus. For me this is definitely living an organic & eco-conscious life.
2. Use your purchasing dollars to tell companies what you want.
Are companies offering products that promote your beliefs? Are they ethically and morally aligned with your passion? Do they respond in the way you believe people should be treated? If not then why are you spending your money with them? If not, then have you spoken up and told them what you would like to see from them instead? Your dollars speak volumes, use them to illicit change, to mold consensus. It may take a little extra time to seek out what you are looking for but it is worth it. I get frustrated sometimes and tempted to not buy according to my lifestyle choice, but I always feel better when I stick to my resolutions.
3. Take the time to explain to people why you are passionate about this.
You know what you are passionate about but do the people around you? Do they understand what motivates you and why you believe as you do? There may be people in your life who feel the same way you do but have never told you. You can find support and encouragement within your existing networks if you share your passion with others. Be informative but not preachy and you may be surprised at how many like minded people are willing to get involved with you. I try not to lecture my friends and associates but to inform them briefly about why I have made the choices I have if the occasion should arise. I find it is better to keep it simple and if they are interested they will ask.
4. Find organizations in your community that embrace and promote this idea.
Look online for community organizations that promote your passion. Get involved, volunteer, run for the board, sponsor an event. Don’t just go to the meetings but go with the purpose of becoming a voice for your passion. Remember this is also an opportunity to meet people who share the same passion as you do. They can teach you, learn from you and appreciate things about your passion.
5. If there is no organization start your own.
The internet makes this so easy to do. Post on craigslist that you are looking for people who share your passion, or post a note on community boards in your community coffee shops, beauty salons etc. If it relates to your children or your religion post an announcement in a newsletter at the school, daycare or church asking if people are interested in getting involved in forming an organization with you? What about your neighborhood association’s newsletter, or the local paper? There are so many ways to reach out, pick several. Once you have some responses organize a meeting time, come with ideas and ask the others for theirs. Then organize a meeting schedule, meeting agendas and you are on your way.
6. Teach your children, talk to them, show them.
We often get too busy to explain ourselves to our children. We reply with, “Because I said so”, or “Just because” or some other excuse rather than taking a moment or two to explain to our children the real reason why we have made certain decisions. However, it is in that explanation that we have the ability to share our passions with our children, and to teach them our values and morals to help guide them as they grow. Instead of telling your child “No” when they want a certain toy or to watch a certain television show explain to them why you think they should not have or do that certain thing. It will better equip them to make the right decisions in the future. Just make sure that you are practicing what you preach. Children are the best at catching us not following our own rules and advice.
7. Lead by example.
Here it is important to remember that people see what we do, not only our children, and our spouses, but our neighbors, friends and co-workers as well. When you falter be humble enough to laugh at yourself because someone will always be paying attention on the day you don’t follow your own rules.
8. Write or speak about it.
Maybe you should start a blog, or guest blog on someone’s blog you follow. Perhaps you can start a fan page on facebook or a twitter account where you can promote the organization you belong to or tell people about your passion. Are there local non-profit organizations that might benefit from you writing for their newsletter or speaking at one of their public engagements? Can you contact a store who is aligned with your passion and offer to give a class or conduct a brief seminar? The possibilities are endless.
9. Live it.
This is probably the most important of the tips. If you live your passion people will see it, they will be curious, they will ask questions and often want to know more. I have found that with my choice to be a vegetarian and to live organically. People see the way I live, they notice my choices, and out of curiosity they ask. It opens up a conversation where we can all learn from each other. If we do not live by our passion we can not evoke the same passion in others. It is impossible. Imagine if MLK had not lived his passion, he would have come off as a phony and quickly faded into the background. The amazing thing about living your passion and molding consensus is that your passion, if true, can live on beyond you, and influence more people than you will ever realize.
Let us know: What do you think could be the tenth way you could mold consensus? How are you a leader? Do you promote beliefs you are passionate about? If so how?
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