Working Out Loud for social change – A different approach

Working Out Loud for social change – A different approach

During my WOL journey I have been intensely studying the subject of enabling and embracing change in both professional and social settings. I have come across a very powerful quote by Mahatma Ghandi:

“Be the change you want to see in the World.”

We are, however, sometimes so consumed by the daily activities that we don’t even have time to think about what change we want to see in the world, and much less find the time and strength to take action towards it.

Prof. Dr. Otto von Scharmer, senior lecturer at MIT Sloan, in his book Theory U analyzes what it takes for people to initiate a change in social systems. He has concluded that 2 central points contribute for a decision to initiate change:

  • Mindset shift through deep reflection (awareness) of the situation and of one‘s personal responsibility toward a particular issue
  • Having a trusted circle of like-minded people that gives the courage and support to take action. Mr. Scharmer calls such groups „Collective Holding Spaces“

In my personal opinion, WOL-circles are exactly what Mr. Scharmer means when he talks about Collective holding spaces:

“WOL-Circle: A group you can grow with and who can support you and give you courage to initiate change!!”

WOL-Circle program, awareness building and call for action

The WOL self-learning program is designed like building blocks. Each week the activities planned in the WOL-guides explore a different aspect of the 5 elements of the WOL Mindset.

For me personally there are 4 specific weeks that play a crucial role in creating awareness and consequently calling for action on creating a positive change around you:

Week 5 – in week 5 you are asked to list 50 facts about you. To make the list, you have really to go deep in the past and reflect what makes you YOU. This list also helps you to identify: what could you contribute to others? What abilities and experiences have that can help others?

Week 7 – in week 7 you are asked to write a letter to yourself from a time in the near future, 2-3 years from now. It is a very effective method for you to think about your vision and direction in life.

Week 9 – in week 9 the focus is to reflect and share what you have learned so far. Additionally to reflect how you learn, what is your approach to learning and how can you let other people profit from your learnings.

Week 11 – by the time you reach week 11, you have already managed to build a pretty sustainable network. The core focus of this week is to imagine what you can achieve with the power of your network.

My personal learnings

Going through my learnings on my WOL Journey so far, I have identified the main drivers that lead me to initiate/participate in projects that can have a positive impact in the society, focused on the work with children and women:

Week 5 – re-discovering hidden passions: the fact that I was already a STEM advocate at the age of 17 came back to me doing the 50 facts exercise. And now that I have a daughter it became even more relevant to lead as a role model to contribute to the society.

Week 7 – While writing the letter from my future self, I reflected a lot on how I can use the privileges I have been granted in life to give something back to society. This came out as a vision:

  1. I want to help create an open, motivating and collaborative environment for learning at schools, to help children learn responsibly and in a self-organized way 21st century skills.
  2. I want to help women experience empowerment and develop their full potential using the power of social technologies.

Week 9 – During week 9, I experienced a courage boost, having achieved a shift in the direction of the growth mindset. Reflecting on how I can become better than yesterday has re-kindled my passion for life-long learning. I now see setbacks purely as growth opportunities, giving me the courage to try new things, fail, and try again.

Week 11 was for me a call for action. It was then that I realized that alone I couldn’t reach much, but joining forces with others in a co-creation team, only the sky is the limit. I wouldn’t have had this realization, hadn’t I participated in a WOL-circle!

In this week, I identified subjects I am passionate about and went on building the necessary networks, with open eyes, ears and heart to identify possibilities to act on my vision.

With the help of my purposeful network, I am actively involved in co-creating following projects, which I write about in separate posts:

  1. Magical Physics for primary schools – Engineers assist children in discovering the fun in physics in a participative environment.
  2. Learning with Robots – High school students give primary school children robotic classes and all profit from the collaborative way of learning between schools and students of different ages.
  3. WomenOutLoud – Supporting women to explore their potential using social technologies

“A long term vision I have is also setting up a Self Organized Learning Environment (SOLE) in a local high school to reinvent the way children learn!”

Participating in a WOL-circle, gives you the chance to find your passion and take actions to be the change you want to see in the World.

I can definitely say that without WOL, I definitely would not have achieved the broad reach and success in scaling the projects I am involved in!

I encourage all to try!