Read Paul Born's latest book:
Read Paul Born's latest book:
I have always been fascinated by social change, the process by which we transform society. I think social change shows humanity in our full glory, exploring our full potential where imagination and reality collide on a large scale with people, both as the painter and the paint. As a result I have always been curious about the strange breed of people who seem to be at the center of this action. Some are larger than life figures while others work in the shadows without ever getting the recognition they deserve. Call them social innovators or systems changers or misfits for all I care, but “they change things, they move the human race forward.” (quoting the famous apple commercial)
Make no mistake, this is a strange breed of people who see the world differently, not for what it is but for what it could be, people who seem compelled to challenge the status quo, to say this is wrong, we can be more, we can be better.
These are my people!
So what is at the heart of this group of people, that drives us, sustains us, inspires us and defines us? Maybe it is the one thing that we seem to struggle to talk about with each other. That thing we all do without really realizing it whether it be at work or when we are alone in our bedroom. The word that captures this mysterious dynamic within us is spirituality.
Now, I don’t mean spirituality as a religious thing, though for some it is. Rather I am referring to that force, flow, energy or idea that compels social innovators like us to do things different, bigger than any sane or rational person would. It is something that seems to be larger than us; it comes from both within and beyond us, sometimes driving us and often times dragging us forward.
Being a social innovator is a difficult road. We are going against the main stream, against societal norms. We are challenging power structures and making people uncomfortable. As a result we are often the odd ball in any group. The round pegs in a world full of square holes. People don’t seem to get us; they don’t understand why we can’t just be satisfied and do things normally. It is at times an incredibly lonely road.
Often we have no idea what we are doing. We know something is wrong but we do not know what the solution is, or we have the solution but no one seems to care, or our plan doesn’t work. As a result we often fail way more than we succeed. We call this “failing forward” and tell ourselves it is a normal part of innovation, but that doesn’t make it any easier, that doesn’t take the disappointment bite away or satisfy funders. I can’t tell you how many times I have thrown up my hands in frustration and defeat, even been to the point of tears. Being a social innovator is at times an incredibly difficult road.
Yet we do it, we pick ourselves back up and try again. Why? Because we are compelled by something greater then ourselves, that fuels and drives us, that keeps us moving forward when we want to do nothing more then give up and binge watch House of Cards while eating ice cream.
Yet, we do not seem to talk to others about this. Why? Maybe it is because it seems crazy. Maybe it is because we are afraid we are the only ones. Maybe it is because it sounds spiritual or even worse, religious, in a world where this is looked down upon by many. Or maybe it is because we don’t really understand it ourselves. Yet this force drives us, pulls us often kicking and screaming away from better paying, more stable jobs and simpler easier lives. It pushes us to work ridiculous hours to the point of burn out. It is what carries us through the lows and makes the highs so sweet.
If this, whatever it is, is so foundational to our success, how do we create more space for it? What are potential spiritual practices that we can develop?
I think first and foremost we need to talk about it more with each other. Move it out of the shadows and into the light. Each one of us, through our experiences, has nurtured a relationship with this force that compels us and I think we can teach each other a lot. I will get the ball started with 10 practices I have learned so far in my journey.
What about you? What are some of your spiritual practices? What fuels and drives you as a social innovator? Share it hear and lets get the conversation started.