We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned so as to have the life that is waiting for use.”– Joseph Campbell
Step 1: Choose a Project
No. Choose a Big Project. No, bigger than that. Be unreasonable. Imagine the kind of world you want to live in, the kind of world that makes you proud to be a human being. Go for greatness. Change the cultural conversation. Choose a project that when shared with others they say “Can you do that?” Or, even better “You cannot do that.” Propose a project that is so monumental that it can only be accomplished through collective effort. The project cannot be accomplished in a semester, an academic year, or even before your students graduates. It will not fit neatly into a syllabus. That’s the point.
Step 2: Send Out Invitations
You got your project. Now, go build your Tribe. Send out invitations. Click on the image to see an example. Some will not accept your invite. Others will. But, do not accept them all.
Step 3: Screen
Your project resides in reality. You and your students work with real people. You deliver a service that real people depend on. And, in order for your project to be a success, you need to deliver. Delivering takes each and every one of you at our best – taking the initiative, taking risks, acting, doing, producing. Delivering requires each of you to get our demons under control. So, when you are looking at prospective members of the Tribe, look ahead, visualize them in the Arena and ask “Will they deliver?”
Step 4: The Training Grounds
You have your project. You have your team. Now, it is time to get them ready for the Arena. You have 16 weeks. You need to do 3 things:
- Build a Community through engineering shared experiences.
- Build a Culture by making 11 Promises to each other.
- Build Commitment to the project by animating and teaching them how to handle their demons.
You prepare them for the arena by embedding them in a community of change-makers, co-creating a group culture that is demon-proof, and animating their demons. Now, it’s time to head to the Arena. But, first, a few words about how you lead in the classroom.
Step 5: The Tunnel to the Arena
What you’re asking of your students is not easy. You’re asking them to exit the classroom, enter reality and offer their work up for judgment. You’re asking them to walk into the Arena. You cannot just stand outside the gates and say “You gotta go in there.” You nudge, encourage and cajole them to enter the Arena by being vulnerable and sharing your stories of struggle. You need to walk with them down the tunnel, stand with them where the shade ends and the light begins, and go into the Arena with them.
Step 6: The Arena
Your students are out of the classroom. They are out of their comfort zones. They are in the Arena. It is in the Arena that they feel the true weight, pressure and responsibility of their work. You are looking at them. The community you are working with is looking at them. Their Tribe is looking at them. They need to act. Make a decision. Choose. Do. The stage is set for the battle.
Step 7: The Battle
You and your students have similar demons. You may even call them by the same names. But, your demons are your demons. They are unique to your history. They are unique to your upbringing. They have been customized by your circumstances, culture, context, and community. They are tailored made to kick your ass. The same is true of your students. You and your students may be in the arena together; but, your students have to fight the battle with their demons on their own. You cannot fight their demons for them. No one can. It is up to them. They have a Choice to make.
Step 8: The Choice
Your students can heed the words of their demons and curl up inside their comfort zones. Or, they can push through their fear and deliver. They have a choice: their Tribe or their Demons. They will choose their TRIBE. Here’s why:
- if they choose their demons, they will avoid the discomfort to delivering. But, their choice contravenes a culture that they have internalized. In turn, they will feel guilt. No one likes to feel guilt.
- if they choose their demons, they will avoid the cost of having to take the lead. But, they are part of a community of like-minded individuals that they respect. And, if they choose their demons, their standing in the eyes of the Tribe may diminish. No one wants that.
Taking on their fears is costly but so is running away from them. Moreover, if they choose their TRIBE, they will find love and encouragement pulling you through their fear.
Those who follow through with this process transform into a Change-Making Animals – individuals who act upon their agency to create, construct, imagine, wonder and aspire to not only change the world around them but change the landscape of thoughts and feelings within themselves.