During the past few years, my life has changed dramatically. My journey has transformed my life, my purpose, and my trust system. I have learned lessons from many people starting with Bernie Sanders and many others along the way. This chapter is not the end of my journey but just the beginning. I hope that my experience and this story inspires others.
I had the opportunity to be a grassroots volunteer, a delegate, run for local office, create grassroots clubs, and learn from so many incredible people. During my journey, I took many physical and mental steps walking door-to-door in different communities and evaluating my core beliefs.
These twelve steps are some of the lessons that I learned along the way, and I would love to hear from you about what you learned in your journey too.
Step #1. Focus on issues.
What issue or issues are most important to you, your family, your community? Issues are the best place to start your journey. Your issue might be local in your community or neighborhood such as safe routes to schools, traffic calming, or affordable housing. Or, regional such as public transportation, affordable housing, education, or healthcare. Or national, across the country. During my journey, Bernie taught me that if I start with a focus on the issues that are common in our communities and our country we have a place to start a conversation. Issues are the concerns, challenges, and problems of the people. Typically, the elections and our political process are focused on the candidates rather than the issues. Even worse, negative campaigns and smear tactics split us up rather than bring us together. It is easier to agree first on what issues or needs are a priority and then work towards a solution. For example, today many people agree that we have healthcare issues in the United States. Everyone knows someone in their own family, in their community, at work, or at school that is facing a health challenge. It is life and death. We all must face it. If we can agree that we need to make healthcare a priority issue in America, then we can begin to work together towards a solution to address the rising costs and delivery of care. During my journey, I enjoyed listening to people, while walking door-to-door around the country, and discussing the issues. It is the best way to start a conversation. It is the beginning of the conversation that begins the dialog that can lead to education and potentially engagement and commitment.
Step #2. Listen carefully.
I cannot emphasize how important it is to listen. During the trip to Iowa, walking door-to-door for the first caucus. Working with others and as we build our connections in different organizations and groups. Sometimes this is a big challenge for me when I get impatient and want to move faster. But in the end, it slows down the team if we do not listen to each other. Especially when working with volunteers who have different backgrounds and experiences, it is important to learn how to encourage others to speak and share their voice. I am still learning this lesson as part of my journey. I now practice taking a breath, waiting, and then encouraging others to participate, especially those quiet people in the back of the room. I'm still working on it but something that I greatly believe in and hope to become better at with time.
Step #3: Ask for help.
No matter how organized you are, how much energy you have, and how much enthusiasm you bring, you can only do so much on your own. You can accomplish so much more with additional help. It might be one other person or an entire network of people in your neighborhood or online connected across the country. And here is the catch. You need to be able to welcome and accept any and all help from those that offer it to you. Some people might bring different ideas, different ways of communicating or different skill sets, but it is most important to welcome everyone to your team and find a way to discover hidden talents.
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