Your BREAK THROUGH, Vol. 1, Post 30

People cannot be free unless they are willing to sacrifice

some of their interests to guarantee the freedom of others.

— Saul Alinsky

I question how often the wisdoms of great thinkers fade away, their time having come and gone. While I also contemplate the frequency in which a thinker in one discipline is boxed into that field and not considered or applied to other areas of life. My sense is that Saul Alinsky has slipped into history, or has been categorized and pigeon-holed as only a radical community organizer. Yet so many of the skills and strategies in “Rules for Radicals” most certainly apply to change making today in many different contexts.

Here are just a few of the highlights I observed from my recent read which apply to making change:

  • Communicate with compassion and deep listening to allies and foes
  • Make what you’re communicating relevant
  • Work for change within the system
  • Create a sense of [citizen] identity (I think about this in terms of people feeling like they belong to an organization, or that they have a sense of ownership over strategies and changes happening)
  • Seek laughter
  • Carefully explore the moral and ethical questions associated with the means and ends
  • Re-examine the meaning and usage of power, self-interest, compromise, ego, and conflict
  • Develop strategies and tactics that are thoughtful and fitting for the context¬† (the long chapter on tactics is rich with additional insights, approaches, and guidelines for effective change making)

In addition to some traits necessary for Creative and Transformational Leadership:

  • Curiosity
  • Appropriate levels of irreverence
  • Imagination
  • A sense of humor
  • A vision for a better world beyond the day-to-day detail
  • An organized personality
  • A free and open mind

All of this takes deeper contemplation of how it will work for us as individuals. But as I look over all the contemporary leadership texts available on the market today that discuss change-making, I wonder if we need to bring Saul Alinsky back into the conversation.  He already figured a lot out for us.