How to Become a Hero c.j. hayden
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   You Are the Champion the World Is Waiting For


   C.J. Hayden, MCC


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Being the change 

March 24-30, 2008 has been designated as Conversation Week by Conversation Café and Global MindShift. This annual event is an opportunity for people around the world to gather in small groups and have meaningful conversations.

I love having deep, purposeful conversations and enjoy being in environments where they can be had. I used to think I was shy because I felt so uncomfortable in many social situations, but then I realized that it was simply because I had never learned to enjoy small talk. What interests me is large talk.

The most important questions for Conversation Week dialogues this year were voted on by 1500 people in 39 countries. Here they are:
  1. How can we best prepare our children for the future?
  2. What does sustainability look like to you? How do we get there?
  3. How do humans need to adapt to survive the changes predicted for this century?
  4. How do we shift from "Me" to "We" on both the local and global levels?
  5. How can you, as Gandhi said, be the change that you want to see in the world?
  6. What kind of economic structures can best support a shift to sustainable living?
  7. How should we re-invent the political process so that people feel that they have a voice?
  8. What kind of leadership does the world need now?
  9. How can we balance our personal needs with the most pressing needs of our community and the larger world?
  10. What can we do to reduce or eliminate violence in the world?

It's a compelling list of topics. I was most taken by #5, "How can you, as Gandhi said, be the change that you want to see in the world?" Conversation Week organizers provided some additional conversational doorways into each topic, and for this one they asked: "What gaps do you notice between your 'walk' and 'talk' and what steps can you take towards 'being the change'?"

"What steps can you take?" What a crucial element this question is for a dialogue about change. Perhaps it is my training and experience as a coach (or perhaps this is what drew me to coaching in the first place), but I often feel driven to end conversations by asking, "And what is your next step?" To me, this is how conversations can be not only meaningful, but impactful.

Being in dialogue with others is an essential tool for raising our awareness. Sometimes it is the only way we ever find out what we really think. We make a declaration aloud in response to a question or challenge, and find ourselves thinking, "Yes, of course! That's what I believe to be true."

But as significant as that awareness may be, what often happens is that the moment of enlightenment passes, and we go on with our lives as before. We have a momentous realization, but then don't connect any action to it. And then we forget about it until the next time something or someone prods us into awareness again.

Perhaps one move we can all make toward "being the change" is to add this one simple question to our conversations about how the world should be different: "And what is your next step?" Perhaps if we keep asking this of others, they will also start asking it of us.

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