In the Tiger’s Mouth: Stepping Up for Change

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Purpose: We are able to change the rules of the game – the larger social, cultural and economic systems that we are a part of – in two main ways. The first is by co-creating new systems or ways of doing things, from the bottom up, like we did in Co-creating Change with Community (Joyality 501). .Doing it together!

The second way is by changing existing systems, inspiring top-down change to create new policies, laws, organisational structures and financial plans, etc. This is what we’re calling “political action”. To do this, we need to connect with, convince, and inspire individuals and groups of people who currently have great decision-making power. Let’s call them “the big end of town” … likely to be politicians, government officials, corporate CEOs and boards. Approaching these people will probably take some courage, like in the Shambhala Warrior story, but the rewards can be great, whether or not the changes you are requesting occur right then and there!

Through ‘In the Tiger’s Mouth’, we combine many of the tools you’ve learned so far in the Joyality Program, to take a courageous step towards larger scale positive change connected with your “passion action”. What scale that is, is totally up to you … it’s just about taking a step in that direction. 😀

Taking ourselves out of own own comfort zone, taking a stand, for something that we believe in can benefit us in many ways. Meeting our own fear, as we have explored in Dare to Care (J301), indicates that we care deeply about something other than ourselves. It is an opportunity for courage, and a “call to greatness”. Simply by taking positive action when we feel afraid, we can feel empowered and fully alive.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to act in its presence.”

– Bruce Lee

By aligning our actions with our core values, by speaking our truth, we increase our self-esteem … we feel good about ourselves.

By supporting each other, and being supported by others, we feel a sense of belonging … we feel a part of something bigger than ourselves: the Earth, humanity, a positive movement for change.

By acting and speaking in ways that care for and respect our own needs, as well as the needs of others, we nurture ourselves as well as bring change to the world.

The phrase “in the tiger’s mouth” comes from some Buddhist stories that refer to being in the grip of fear, and how it is possible to find positivity, mindfulness and calmness in the midst of it. Let’s practise joyality in the tiger’s mouth! 🙂

Preparation: So, let’s start by identifying where the tiger’s mouth is for you, and your passion action … Here are a few questions that might help you do that: Where is the “frontline” of your change-making? Where are you out of your comfort zone, a bit nervous, hesitant? Where are some important decisions being made about the things you care deeply about?

This might be: talking with your closest friends and family; making a phonecall to your local politician; approaching your college administrator; or making a presentation to the CEO of your company, its board, or shareholders meeting.

If finding decision-makers doesn’t quite make sense to you in connection with your passion action, think about who might be able to support your change-making strategy, your initiative (see Tag Team J401 and Co-creating Change J501). These people might help you by providing funding, permission, endorsement or other kinds of support.

** Pause here while you write them down in your Joyality Journal. **

Once you’ve identified the person or group of people who could help bring about the changes in the world you believe are needed, you might like to have a look back at what you’ve written in your Joyality Journal about:

  • 5 Tips for Communication (Joyality 201)
  • Your Mode of Communication (Joyality 201)
  • Building Beautiful Bridges (Joyality 501)

Process: Now you have identified some of the key decision-makers or gatekeepers important in achieving your goals or vision, write some notes in your Joyality Journal about:

  • What they care about? What are their needs and wants?  What is likely to motivate them to support you, and/or change their current behaviours, structures, organisational frameworks?
  • What is your core message? What are your needs and wants? What do you want them to do? How do you want them to change their current behaviours, structures, organisational frameworks? How could they support you?
  • How can you re-frame your core message in their language and and make it relevant to them and their needs and wants?

Okay, now is the time to put that all together in a message to these key decision-makers that has the underlying message or tone of “How can we work together to make the world a better place?”. You could just free-write this message into your Joyality Journal, or perhaps role play it with a friend pretending to be a key decision-maker / gatekeeper.

(Try applying your insights from 5 Tips for Communication and Building Bridges while you do this.)

Reflection: Think about how you might actually use this message.  We suggest you choose one of your favourite modes of communication, or you could challenge yourself to step out of you comfort zone and use one that you believe will be most effective in your strategy for changemaking.

Some ideas: Send it as a letter. Use it as a basis for a petition (paper or online), so you can demonstrate that other people feel the same way you do. Make a speech or presentation or video. Get creative! Use your writing to plan a face-to-face meeting.

(If you plan to deliver your message in person, remember that communication is much more than the words you use, and includes your tone of voice, facial expressions and body language, even your dress-code! So aim to show humility, strength and respect in all your modes of communication. Be polite and friendly. That way, your message will be most easily heard.)

We encourage you to  “just do it”, and see how it feels to get this message out there into the world, and delivered to some people who might be inspired to make some far-reaching changes!

Source: Eshana Bragg. The phrase “in the tiger’s mouth” is drawn from Katrina Shields’ book of the same name (1991) and her introduction explores the meaning of the phrase (pp.xiii-xiv).


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