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Are you an Advocate?

Reflect on some of the great leaders and yourself.

There is no question that all the great advocates of our time have charisma and passion for the cause.

At the same time, each of them had their own journey, their own experiences, and personal developments that were manifesting their passion, and the attitude that helped them to become iconic leaders for their cause.

Take Rosa Parks for instance: On Dec. 1, 1955, Rosa resisted the order of a bus driver to give up her seat in the “colored section” of the bus to white passengers as the bus filled up. Three of the four black passengers followed the order. Only Rosa did not. "I don't think I should have to stand up," she said. And she got arrested by the police. On the day of her court case, the black community announced the Montgomery bus boycott to show their support. Rosa had to pay a fine of $14. Subsequently, she quickly became an icon of non-violent resistance and the U.S. civil rights movement. She also served as an inspiration to other activists such as Martin Luther King.

Other great advocates had their own journey …

What has been your journey so far? Did key moments in your life influence you to engage in advocacy and social development?

Self-reflection and learning help you to become a great advocate

Becoming a great advocate is not only because of passion, natural charisma, a certain inclination, or the personal journey. Leadership, communication, and other important aspects of advocacy can be learned and are part of personal development as well.

The picture below may help you reflect on yourself. How do you score yourself on the different characteristics and how can you improve yourself to become an advocate?

While you go through the five aspects, also reflect on some of the iconic leaders and their strengths . For instance, the incredible perseverance and commitment of Greta Thunberg, the wonderful public speaking and inspirational leadership of Martin Luther King, and the deep content knowledge and analysis of Peter Benenson, the founder of Amnesty International, made their extraordinary advocacy possible.

Self-reflection: Are you an advocate?

© Illustration by Civil Society Academy

If you are using this concept as a reflection exercise …

If you are using this concept as a self-reflection exercise in a workshop or team meeting, you may follow these steps:

  • Present the concept by going through the five key characteristics of great advocates. Bring in examples of extraordinary advocates to illustrate the characteristics. You may use some examples from the impact cards.

  • Ask the team members/participants to reflect on themselves, consider which characteristics are their strengths, and identify where there is room for improvement.

  • Ask the team members/participants to pair up and share their personal reflections and brainstorm ways to strengthen some of their characteristics.


About the Author:

Joachim Schwarz is passionate about social justice and on a mission to support like-minded civil society actors and social entrepreneurs to become more powerful and innovative. Hence, in 2014 he left his NGO career to build the Civil Society Academy. He is an outstanding facilitator and coach with expertise in social innovation, leadership, organisational change, and advocacy. After more than 20 years in Africa and Asia, he is now based in Berlin.


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