The place of formal advocacy in public policy systems has been a focus this week. I am very fortunate to be a member of South Australia’s Entrepreneurship Advisory Board and I do have an agenda to help close the gender investment gap and to bring a gender lens to listening, observing, conversations and advice making. It is quite a discipline to stay on message and on track. Being at the table is a power and privilege.
This week, a peer asked me how I prepare and go into these spaces, and on reflection realised I do have a practice. I bring to mind all those who have gone before me to enable me to have the privilege of being at the table. These people then become my cloud of witnesses. Their energy and compassion being afforded to me gives me courage and holds me so I know I am not alone. I was fortunate enough to get a teaching while in a workshop on Warriorship hosted by aviator (and now incarnated as a Marvel Comic heroine) Teara Fraser this week, where one of the participants Sacred Matriarch artist Ecko Aleck shared that she does something similar. She takes her place in the litany of those who have been before her and as a First Nations woman, born into the Nlaka’pamux Nation and raised with the shishalh Nation, Ecko said she has the baton now and the responsibility to go from surviving to thriving, as she will in her turn, take her place in the geneology. She explained she has full responsibility for this moment and who comes after her will take what she has done to do her part. It reminds me of something I wrote years ago about a teaching I got from a local footy champion who said when you have the ball you are responsible for the game in that moment and you do all you can to exercise that responsibility for the team to help them kick the next goal. I try and build a team of people I can throw to, who will accept the ball from me and who will notice when it is coming their way and will hear my voice when I kick it their way. This is all about building relationships and trust and training together and that is something I have felt a bit disconnected from recently and this week was a good reminder to me I need to strengthen my practice in this area. This is essential for movement building and in my experience, reiterated again this week, means you need to take time to hang out and get to know people. One of my personal KPIs is when people can tease you as a sign of respect and that works both ways.
I also invoke the UniVerse, the one voice, and ask what is this one voice calling in this moment? On reflection I use this practice to bring alignment to past, present and future. The next step is to stay focused and to stay grounded. I notice I do better at this when I am standing flat footed and strong on the ground and while standing akimbo comes naturally I work against myself to not take that stance so as not to be seen as threatening, and put my hands behind my back, although every now and again I do fold my hands in front of me, but again try to pick myself up when I do that so I continue to stay as open as I can in the moment. Another thing I notice I keep eye contact as best I can, I find this hard sometimes! I also work on channeling sending love and compassion – even when my eyes want to send daggers. I recently experimented with sending daggers that could transform into Cupid like arrows of love and that seemed to work but I am going to need a lot more practice to get this to work on demand!
Formal advocacy is not stand up comedy, but humour helps and I noticed I do use humour to get key points across to new audiences. More than a decade of improv training and performing playback theatre, is easily on demand and I appreciate those skills and forms (like yes and) to have at my finger tips. I also am fortunate to have decades of facilitation tools behind me so can bring in simple activities like asking people useful questions to unlock and unleash information – never under estimate the power of asking everyone to take it in turns to share their answers to a question. One tool I have used consistently over the years (from family counselling to corporate board meetings) to ask everyone to bring another voice into the conversation and what would they say if they were in the room. This always frees everyone up and brings out the ghosts and what I find is this also usually helps bring in taboos, lost words and feelings to the table and in doing so deeper discernment.
I wonder what practices you have that you might even know you do to hold you strong in your power and love as you do your changemaking?