Laura has a kind heart, sharp mind and a mission. She sees a lot that’s not working in the world, and she’s passionate about creating a world that works better for more of us – especially around racial equity. She’s experienced first-hand how bigotry and racism get in the way of bringing her full gifts to her workplace and community – despite her best efforts. She’s watched the same thing happen to family members and loved ones for many years. But despite being bright and well-known, and investing years of creative energy in moving change, neither Laura, her workplace nor the community have seen much positive change. Laura has even earned a reputation for causing as many problems as she tries to solve when she gets involved with a change effort. Deeply frustrated, she’s not only chronically exhausted, she barely makes enough money to get by. Laura has lost her effectiveness, her direction, and her motivation – and the status quo around her endures.
While “Laura” isn’t her real name, I know her. I watched this smart, resourceful woman wreak havoc in the name of the change she was trying to make – oblivious to her impact. I’ve also been Laura. I know what it’s like to care deeply about change, and struggle to make ends meet. I know intimately the struggle with despair, anger and exhaustion. I even know what it’s like to be physically escorted out of a workplace I cared about, and spent years trying to make better – due to politics and my naivete.
I’ve learned a tremendous amount – sometimes the hard way – over decades of being a changemaker and watching changemakers like Laura fail. I learned that what was missing wasn’t another external strategy – I didn’t need a new organizational change model, political strategy or community organizing tactic. What was missing was a set of critical internal resources and skills. I lacked tools to equip me with the extreme clarity, deep self-knowledge, psychological resilience, emotional intelligence and internal allies to make effective choices, stay in for the long haul – and even enjoy my life along the way!
One thing Laura, my own experience and other changemakers have taught me is that changemakers are superheroines and superheroes! Like other superheroes and superheroines, changemakers have superpowers. But we also have “Personal Kryptonites” that neutralize those superpowers and can destroy not our change efforts, but our lives.
The Five Personal Kryptonites are:
- Overheartedness – Using the heart much more than the head, especially in situations where the head would be a more effective decision maker.
- Purpose Fog – Not really knowing your true purpose. Being “anti” something or wanting something to stop happening in the world is neither clear enough, nor effective in sustainable change.
- Vow of Virtuous Poverty – The false belief that one must choose between doing good work and doing well in life, rooted in the “old school” belief that to be noble and good requires suffering.
- Oozing Wounding – Not having done enough personal growth work, so you re-create your pain and trauma with other people, perpetuating the very problem you’re trying to solve.
- Rightness – Doggedly maintaining a stance or approach that may be morally right, but limited, incomplete or strategically disastrous.
In the Ultimate Changemaker Academy, part of the work my co-pilot Nancy Alder and I do with students is teach them to overcome the Five Personal Kryptonites by developing their Changemaker Superpowers!
The Five (Little-Known) Changemaker Superpowers are:
- Heart-Mind Balance – Ensuring your heart and mind are both working well (and together) to make the most effective decisions required to move change and enjoy life along the way.
- Purpose Clarity – Gaining crystal, laser-focused clarity about your true purpose, your vision for your life, and your vision for the world (what will be different when the thing you want to change actually changes?)
- Righteous Abundance – Believing, and living, that you can have your needs met while also doing important, meaningful work that makes a positive difference.
- Healing Wounding – Being in an ongoing process of personal healing from the pain and trauma that drives your changemaking, and honest personal inquiry about your impact on other people and your desired change.
- Effectiveness – Building your power of discernment that increases your ability to move change and also align with your morals, ethics, and values.
Superheroes need community, allies and the proper training to overcome Personal Kryptonite and hone their Superpowers to vanquish evil – and we’re here to help! If you’re a Changemaker interested in changing the world by changing yourself, and truly stepping into “being the change” in how you think, speak and act about the change you most care about, join us for our next Ultimate Changemaker Bootcamp, or contact me. And above all, remember – you are not alone!