I recently finished Gloria Steinem’s new book titled “My Life On the Road”. I enjoyed the book especially the details of her life growing up without a home. Her father was his own man but the pain he put his family through was immense.
The best thing about the book was her description of circles for decision making. You’ve heard me talk about the need to decide your desired outcome before you act. I’ve even given some hints about how to determine that outcome. Imagine now how difficult it is to determine a desired outcome for a group. Remember some of the political, historical examples I’ve given to show how difficult this is. This is why most groups bow to the cult of the leader because they end up fighting among themselves giving rise to an impasse until someone imposes their will on the group.
Steinem spent her life as an organizer for change; political, social and personal. Some of the groups were committed but had differing outcomes in mind. What they evolved was a technique for sitting together, no matter how long it took, to determine the desired outcome all could live with.
This takes some practice and learning to make work. You have to get beyond the lust for treating problems as crises. You must have a commitment to come up with a workable solution and the willingness to make it happen even if the outcome isn’t exactly what you want. You will get into definitions and language because real problems are outside the media driven soundbite.
Some of the issues the people with Steinem worked on and came to actionable desired outcomes were impressive. I don’t know if it is possible in our time due to cell phones and the immediacy of everything. We’ve made such a mess of things, though, that I think it would be worth trying. Perhaps you could start small such as your church or your library board. Try consensus and patience. Read the book and be inspired.
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