I have said many times before that the social change system is broken. Because of deep historical, normative, and structural limits placed on social change leaders for decades, an overwhelming feeling of scarcity pervades the social change sector. Nonprofit leaders and funders alike believe that there simply is “never enough.” There is never enough money, time, talent, influence, people—you name it.
In the social change sector, just as in the rest of our society, we are beginning to recognize that we’ve been suffering from an inequitable balance of power. Indeed, I believe that we are in a time of transfer of power. Society is recognizing a need to move from white, male-dominated power to power that is shared by all equally. I believe that the nonprofit sector, whose historical roots are based in the underlying sexism of our society, is also in the midst of a similar transition.
And you, dear social change leader, are helping to usher in this transition period. Your decision to reclaim your power as an equal partner to funders, board members, policymakers, influencers, and decision-makers can be transformative. Not just for you and your organization’s mission, but for our world.
The constraints of scarcity, of sexism, of limiting beliefs are yours to release. Once you fully see this outdated, debilitating system for what it truly is, you can decide if you want to continue to participate in it.
Why do I leave the responsibility for overcoming this dysfunction in the hands of individual social change leaders like you? After all, the overall system is broken. Shouldn’t philanthropists and CEOs fix this problem, or at least share an equal responsibility?
My answer is simple. In any system, those with the power have less incentive to change that system. Change to broken systems has only ever happened when individual leaders, who themselves suffered from that broken system, began refusing to continue playing by outdated rules. This is how we outlawed slavery, gave women the vote, and made gay marriage legal. By individuals standing up and saying, “No more!” Those brave souls paved the way for others, and slowly but surely change happened.
I am asking you to stand up and be one of those leaders. We can overcome the dysfunctional system when you and many others refuse to play by these tired rules. And you’ll find that when you break those rules, the work becomes easier, more joyful, and even more fun. (Imagine!)
So, the challenge is to fully uncover the limiting beliefs, and then let them go. Once you do, you will realize the tremendous power you have always held inside you.
There’s plenty more about how to overcome your limiting beliefs in my book “Reinventing Social Change“. Grab your copy now. And don’t miss our monthly free training series that takes a deep dive into how to move your social change work from scarcity to abundance. Our next training is August 25th. Register here.
Photo Credit: Marco Bianchetti