Think Like an Advocate

If it is true that thought comes before action, what does it mean to think like an advocate?

If you explore the meaning of the word “advocate,” you’ll find a lot about calling out on someone’s behalf, vocalizing for them, defending their cause. This is very action-oriented and something we’ll be exploring more in our next newsletter.

But what thoughts go through our minds before we ever open our mouths on behalf of others? There is one simple change you can make today that will prime your mind toward advocacy. Here it is:

Make your mind one big question mark.

In other words, be imaginative. When you see a person walking down the street, fill your mind with curiosity toward them rather than conclusions. Here’s some good questions to get you started:

I wonder if they need help?
How would I feel if I was a single mom like her?
What would it be like to not have clean water?

I think lots of people would advocate for others if they were aware of the need.

Last year, I was very sick and wanted to attend a conference but didn’t have the stamina to walk all day. Lovingly, my brother pushed me in a wheelchair so that I could go. We had a great time. Ironically, the best part about the whole day was being in that wheelchair because I was able to see so many people advocate on my behalf. They made sure I got good seating at events.They helped me get into lines. They opened doors. It was beautiful.

Here’s the thing…I was in a wheelchair. My needs were obvious. But most of us keep our needs pretty close to our hearts. We feel vulnerable and exposed if we let others see them. So, if you are passionate about speaking out on the behalf of others, you are going to have to put in some thoughtful effort to recognize their needs.

That’s where it becomes so important to think in those question marks. People could have looked at me in that wheelchair and filled their minds with conclusions. Instead, they filled their minds with questions.

I wonder if they need help?
How would I feel if I was in a wheelchair?
What would it be like to not be able to walk?

Now a word of caution: rather than assuming you know all the answers to the questions in your mind, go ask. Get real answers. Before you can speak for someone you first need to speak to them. But it all starts with a question in your head.

-Kelsey Schwartz
Director of Marketing & Social Media