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You are a leader and you want to change the world. Anyone can steer the ship but it takes a leader to chart the course. Thank you!

Change is often difficult and there will be frustrations along the way. Always remind yourself that the difference between adventure and adversity is attitude.

Here are TEN thoughtful advocacy truths to consider:

  1. FOCUS – define as precisely as possible your focus. What’s your issue and who do you need to get on side to move your concern forward. Your task is not to be sidetracked into ‘boiling the ocean’ but rather to stay focused;
  2. CONNECTING is as important as Convincing. How can you best connect with a person or group as to your issue focus?
  3. PLAN and STRATEGISE. Work together if possible and plan a path forward;
  4. Taylor your MESSAGE to your audience. Example: if specking with someone with a conservative perspective you may need to focus move on the economics of your issue. Others may be more influenced by your (and their) moral convictions on the issue. Identify and maximize your strengths and minimize the weaknesses associated with the issue;
  5. There is a COMMUNICATION HIERARCHY. The worst way to present an issue is through a petition. Unless you have many thousands of people to ‘sign on’ a petition is most often ignored. The same with form letters. If presenting letters is part of your strategy, they should be individual letters preferably hand written. Personal contact is best, perhaps by phone – although face-to-face contact is always best;
  6. KNOW YOUR TURF. It’s important to do your homework. What makes the person or group you are talking to ‘tick?’ What can you discover about your audience that would be helpful (eg. hobbies, faith background, # of kids, a special interest, a favourite charity, education, position of influence etc. etc. etc.). Some knowledge that you can affirm or compliment someone on in passing;
  7. ANTICIPATE ARGUMENTS that may be a barrier to achieving your goal and decide in advance how you can best respond. Try not to get into an argument and Never Make A Threat you cannot keep (eg. ‘you better do this or we’ll make sure you’re not re-elected’. There is a hunters creed ‘never wound what you cannot kill” (with regrets for the metaphor);
  8. Know that the MESSAGE YOU believe you’re communicating may not be the message received. Don’t be afraid to ask a clarifying question and if asked one – be quick to answer or promise to get the answer for them…..and then be sure you follow-up by getting back to the person or group;
  9. Be prepared to build an AD HOC COALITION on your issue. Recruiting the support of the local Chamber of Commerce may be helpful if an economic argument needs to be made. Be careful to show the support that exists for your issue and avoid being seen as having direct internal group disagreements. If you make a mistake, own up to it. Harvard research shows that the most important quality of leadership is the ability to openly admit to an error with a commitment to correct it. This can build TRUST which is the most important attribute you have in issue advocacy;

#10 What is PLAN B. I like to kid about using your B-Attitudes when you A- Attitudes don’t work. Do you have a fallback plan? Do you know it in advance?

Op Eds/letter writing/stress the positive: no one wants to be led by a pessimist/If you want to go fast = go alone but if you want to go far = GO TOGETHER/involve people with lived experience – empower them to tell their stories/PRAY/Report your good news.


First Nation Fly-In’s story telling as input to policy change;

Cardinal – $800 million for Developmentally challenged;

Private Member Bill – co-sponsorship;

More on making the right contacts – Finance and insulin pumps;

Mc Master Humanities Building – effective student mobilization;

Firefighter’s Presumptive legislation – filling the Chamber. Letting it be someone else’s decision;

Housing and Agri-Food end runs – selective spilling of the beans so to speak.