This week’s Healthcare Experience Design (HxD) conference found at #hxd2013 brings to mind the concept of “awe” in designing for change. Stanford researchers found that awe expands people’s perception of time, alters decision making and enhances well-being. So how do we capitalize on this for health and beyond?
The other week I had the honor of chairing the Advanced Learning Institute’s “Social Media and Government” December conference. There were some great presentations, even better discussions and what I was impressed with most–many more sophisticated questions. In government communications, it’s no longer good enough to be the first or to be using social media. More and more, you have to show a return on investment. You have to tie what you are doing to why you are doing it–and focus on what you are trying to accomplish.
When it comes to social media and government, some do not know where to start. Thus, as my keynote at the conference, I presented: Being Empowered–Faces and Places You Need to Know. To me, being empowered is closely related to leadership. We can’t lead our organizations or our colleagues if we aren’t first leading ourselves. Hence, why we must become empowered. Being empowered means two things: being encouraged and being equipped. So, I share my presentation with you here to help you achieve both of those items. The faces will help encourage you and the places will work to better equip you.
If you have added “faces and places,” please leave them in the comments as we are all always learning.
There are certain people you get really excited about meeting. One of those people for me was Geoff Livingston. A couple of weeks ago, I finally got the chance to meet him in person. During our conversation, he referenced me as an activist.
This was another first for me. I know Geoff said it with love, but no one has ever called me that, and I found myself pondering: Do I consider myself an activist? So, I let it marinate. And I came to three conclusions:
1. I do consider myself an activist. But then comes the question, what am I advocating for? I feel the answer to this question will continue to morph, evolve, and develop with time. For the longest time and presently, I am an advocate for a cure to multiple sclerosis. I’m also an advocate for my family, for human rights, for literacy and for social good. It may be cliche, but the quote, “Stand for something, otherwise you stand for nothing.”
Well, when my name is called, I want to feel confident about where I’m standing and why. This blog helps document my approach to activism as it’s deeply rooted in the belief I have in the process of social marketing and behavior change.
2. Being considered an activist is a good thing. I consider it a badge of honor. I know the word “activist” itself carries with it many ideas and immediate connotations from a variety of people, which is all great and dandy. However, what I realized was more important, was what it meant to me. I started thinking of others that I would deem “activists.” Maybe I’m just a little too on the optimistic side, but I first thought of those like Susan B. Anthony, Martin Lurther King Jr., Nelson Mandella, and my family.
You see, I feel like I come from a lineage of activists so to speak. One, my grandfather of about five generations ago was a Cherokee Indian Chief. Another super great uncle was an abolitionist with John Brown and was actually hung with him as documented in the book Man on Fire. Though I know that one is a bit extreme, there was my great-grandpa Russel who was a teacher…A teacher who lost his job because he didn’t believe in the segregation of his classroom. To carry on the torch and encourage others to join, well, to me, that’s a good thing.
3. This, inherently, implies action. The word itself carries the word “act” in it. Are there “activists” that you don’t agree with? Yes. Are there activists with bad intentions? Yes. Are there activites who use approaches you don’t agree with? Yes. But, then, if that’s the case, act on it. =) Being an activist is what you make of it.
Find your voice. Channel your purpose….and I think you’ll find that you will want to ACT on whatever you feel called or led to do more than ever. Are you with me?
(*I hesitated writing this post, because I thought the word “activist” might lend itself to be controversial. But then I thought, hey, SB readers are pretty smart folks. They’ll have some good insights to stretch me even further on this. I’m counting on it. In the meantime, thanks Geoff for the compliment!)
flickr credit: RockChalk Jayhawk, John Rover