We don't need more imagination, we could use more INNOVATION
We have a bunch of social issues. Mental health is low and falling, far too many people are living below the poverty line, and let's not even get started on climate change. And often I get asked "psychologically - what can we do about it?"...the answer is not a lot...unless we also move socially and practically!
I have often spoken about how we can of course empower the individual, and the individual can also rise beyond even our expectations - but then they are thwarted by a system that isn't set up to help. A wonderful lady I spoke to recently told me about how one of her ways of combatting loneliness was engaging with the lunch that her community put on...until the bus routes changed and she was always 30 minutes late. Affinity Day Care who runs "day care for seniors" told me that providing travel is an essential part of their service; and research conducted with people managing Alzheimer's found that while "green space was underused" - it was because of "lack of accessibility", "Lack of awareness of dementia friendly places", "lack of being able to push a wheelchair down a path." We're not talking about a lack of psychological desire or motivation, we're talking about a lack of practical solutions!
In The Leader's Guide to Mindfulness, I spoke about how we have ideas, we have wonderful architects and designers with fantabulous conceits and concepts, we have loud voices who say "You know what you need...?", but if creativity is not matched by innovation (and by that I mean permissions (the double edge of a decent legal service), funding, someone to drive the project forward, and commitment from the majority its going to affect)...we have dreams (and a bunch of pretty pictures on Rhino or a load of smoke blowing comments on LinkedIn with no actual solutions).
How much have you DONE towards creating the world you want?
Aside from vision boards, or complaining about what's not happening - what steps do you take to create the world you want? They may not be big ones, you might not be able to change the world on your own...but you can change one person's world!
Ben Francoise of Saints Coffee is using his business to offer employability to those who may otherwise be marginalised eg. if they have come out of prison; he runs walking groups, and wellness meets, he offers his space for community gatherings...and he serves excellent artisan (and fair trade) coffee. Alessandra Bester not only designed Nono Cocoa chocolates to give her son who has autism a means of meeting his nutritional needs - but now she employs people on the autistic spectrum, specifically creating a working environment conducive for them to thrive. Lorraine and Lee Lewis noticed that there was a lot of support for children with cancer, but little to cheer up the adults who might also be isolated from families (as things change as one ages) - and started The Lewis Foundation to gift care packages of essentials such as pants, a toothbrush, and then something like a puzzle book, delivering them personally so people know - someone has my back.
Are they changing the world...well, they are certainly changing their corner of it, and before you say - oh but someone is probably doing my idea, if you've not heard about the amazing people doing whatever it is, then clearly there's space for you to make that change, at the very least in your street...OR if you have, then maybe join up with them and see what skills YOU can offer.
Social change on a large scale is not easy, but you can make a start
Change often involves retrofitting - it really isn't very often that we (those not involved in master planning on those scales) get the chance to design something from scratch, and if my own experience in learning and development is anything to go by, it's hard...really hard. You are working with pre-established behaviours, habits, mental pathways that may not be working brilliantly, but could be more comforting as the devil you know! And when working with one person there can be incredible push-back (conscious and unconscious), let alone with a whole community with different needs and desires.
But that doesn't mean don't start somewhere.
At the very basic level:
- Campaign, write to your MPs, raise the changes you want with your local paper
- Use your social media or any organisational platforms to raise awareness of what you want, put forward solutions and see if you can gather traction
- Find ways to fundraise for a cause you care about and then keep the conversation going about it!
If you have access to greater resources:
- Team up with others and see if together you can get the ear of the decision makers
- Start what it is you want - small scale - see if it works in the first place...then scale up (this way you also have time to make tweaks and changes to functionality)
If you are in a high level of decision making (with funds):
- Invest in a project with a purpose - it can be an extension of CSR, as well as give your teams a different area to develop their skills
- Back and drive a project with the energy and momentum it needs
- Listen, and learn from the ACTUAL needs of the people asking
And to everyone
It's easy to imagine, it's easy to create - and it's far too easy to naysay and criticise...so how about we flip it. If you are imagining, take one step to make it real; if you are creating make one connection to help you innovate, and yes - voice your needs but bring solutions with your critiques and maybe we can move forward. AND even more importantly, recognise the people who are taking action, who are doing something, there's a reason why we lack innovation - it's hard...and we know it!
"Meet the Changemakers with Dr Audrey Tang" starts Livestreaming on DisruptiveLive in August 2022 celebrating grassroots initiatives, and exploring how we ALL can really put action behind our social conscience.
Dr Audrey Tang is a chartered psychologist and author with a specialty in the practical "how to take action", rather than just giving explanation and advice. Listen to her podcast Retrain Your Brain here; or her Radio Show "The Wellbeing Lounge", and catch her practical masterclasses Psych Back to Basics on DisruptiveTV & Energy Top Up for resilience. For self development tools based within positive psychology: click Her YouTube Channel . Twitter/IG @draudreyt
Audrey's current fundraising links are: