Activism, Changeology, Leadership, Motivation, Strategic planning

Thoughts on activism and changeology

I really am digging on Adam Grant’s book, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World. I just finished the last chapter which is entitled, Rocking the Boat and keeping it Steady: Managing Anxiety, Apathy, Ambivalence and Anger. This chapter really resonated with me as an activist and changeologist. Here are a few kernels of wisdom from this it:


Managing Anxiety – When stressed about something, don’t try to calm down. Instead channel your nervousness into something positive. Instead of saying, “I’m calm, I’m calm, “say, “I’m excited, I’m excited!”

Managing Apathy – Don’t give up. Look for allies. Realize you are not alone. Even one ally is enough to strengthen dramatically the resolve of most people. Try to incorporate humor  as a weapon against fear, in your activism.

Managing Ambivalence – Practice Tempered Radicalism – Three interrelated forms:

  • Outsiders within – Involves detached concern and being both objective and subjective.
  • Critics of both:
    • Status quo and
    • Untempered Radical Change
  • Advocates for both:
    • Status Quo and
    • Untempered Radical Change

Embrace your ambivalence – Ambivalence entails embracing both sides of a dualism even though it may involve some discomfort. It may involve embracing multiple identities that at times may be at odds with each other. Cultivate being hot-and cool-headed simultaneously. This bit Grant has taken from Debra Meyerson and Maureen Scully (for more on their fascinating work on Tempered Redicalism check out this article – )

Managing AngerAnger is a great motivator. The question is, of course, what will it motivate me to do?

Beware or venting – Studies indicate that venting your anger does not help calm most people, but rather stimulates more aggression. “Venting doesn’t extinguish the flame of anger; it feeds it.”

Venting tends focuses on the perpetrator. We are angry at others. Instead we should shift our focus  to being angry for or on behalf of others.

  • The former focuses on:
    • The perpetrator
    • Retaliation and revenge – this in turn often leads to cycles of violence based on revenge seeking caused by the previous episode of retaliation.
  • The later focuses on:
    • The victim – this activates empathetic anger; anger that seeks to right the wrongs done to others
    • Seeking justice



This chapter provides a wealth of material to inform and motivate and activist/changeologist or aspiring activist/changeologist. Maybe you :-)?


2 thoughts on “Thoughts on activism and changeology

  1. Reblogged this on Matt Rosenblum and commented:
    This article on activism/changeology has some quality thoughts on how to be both an advocate of change and of the status quo. We must have a both/and, multi-perspectival view of the world if we want to be comprehensive and thorough. Too many of us either don’t appreciate the foundations of our society (and have a destructive and immature view of the world), or don’t attempt to evolve or improve the world at all. Our focus should be on increasing the amount of perspectives we can hold, so we can view the world in a more complete and mature way. This will lead to us building a genuinely diverse, self-actualized, and inclusive world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Matt :-). Thanks for the well thought through comment. Gaining enough perspective to know if, where, when, how and to what extent change needs to happen is a huge challenge. I know I am guilty of making decisions to change things or maintain the status quo without having taken the time to gain a broader, deeper and richer perspective first. Thanks again :-).

      Liked by 1 person

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