I was delighted to receive a call from Krista Hiser, the Faculty Outreach Coordinator for Service Learning at Kapiolani Community College, requesting that I lead a workshop at an overnight retreat weekend for college students they were co-sponsoring with the University of Hawaii’s West Sustainability group. The topic of the retreat was: Building a Community of Change Agents.
“When we began planning the retreat,” she said, “You were the first person I thought of to invite to talk with the students because, in my mind, Joy, you are a true change agent.”
“The world is the worst it has ever been. But it is also the best it has ever been. You get to choose which part you play in it all.” — Abraham-Hicks
It is a topic I have been fascinated with and focused upon all my life: what does it take to get people to change their comfortable habits to something new? I have explored numerous strategies in my ongoing media projects and learned a lot along the way and I was happy to share with the college students.
The overnight retreat was held April 5 and 6, 2013 at Camp Kokokahi in Kane’ohe Bay, and was packed with professional development workshops and activities for the student participants. The purpose of the retreat was to provide students the opportunity to learn and develop skills for systemic change and become a community change agent, to build camaraderie and connect with peers from across different student groups, to deepen their passion for a particular issue, and to experience the fun in being an effective leader.
I realized that many of these students were just beginning their path as seeing themselves as leaders who could originate change. Many of them were still defining their own passions and what vision they had for a better world. So I focused my talk on “Success Strategies for the New Change Agent.” I shared with them my five step process for how to expand your power of influence:
- Get Inspired
- Focus on What You Want
- Be the Cheer-Leader
- Have a Clearly Articulated End Goal
- Understand the Stakeholders
I then got the students to use a Cluster Map to bubble ideas about what inspired them. Being a change agent means inspiring other people, but most importantly it is about inspiring yourself every day. Cluster Maps are a great way to generate creativity. In the center of the page, write “What Inspires Me” and then draw spokes to whatever comes to mind. Keep writing until the entire page is filled. When you get stuck, refer back to the bubbles you already wrote and add details that relate to that idea. Try it with any topic and be amazed at how many ideas you have hidden within you.
“It is not the strongest of species that survive, nor the most intelligent; it is the one that is most responsive to change. — Charles Darwin
I closed the workshop by sharing with them four specific strategies that will help their campaign messages lead to inspired action:
- Research (using surveys, focus groups and informal conversations) WHY your target audience currently ignores the behavior you want them to adopt and then design solutions to overcome those barriers.
- Provide MORE than education. Studies show that campaigns that rely solely on providing information and “awareness raising” have little effect upon people’s behaviors.
- Develop a message that targets a community and not just the individual. People care what others are doing and respond to peer pressure so take advantage of this in your campaigns! Show them that others in the community (especially influential community leaders) are doing the new desired behaviors.
- When developing the campaign, ask the most important question: What specific action do I want people to do after they hear my message? Keeping this in mind will help you develop campaigns that turn viewers into doers.
The workshop was filmed and I was asked by the college to edit the footage into a learning module that they can offer as part of a multi-media electronic textbook to their students in the future. I will also post it here when it is completed.
“They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.” — Confucius