Which Type of Citizen Changemaker Are You?*

Once upon a time I took a personality test.

Ok, maybe it was more than one… Maybe it was like 10. (or more.)

That I remember.

Jeez, who are you — the personality quiz police?

Anyway, I’m a #humble enough person to realize that I’m something of a personal development addict. I fall for the the allure of the Myers-Briggs, Strong Personality Index, StrengthsFinder, and Buzzfeed’s ever-scientific “Which Type of Bread Are You?

Cough, Gluten-Free Arepa — wtf!?, cough.

Say what you will about personality tests and their veracity, we internet users of the 21st century fu$king love them, loudly or in private.

How does this relate to making an impact in your community, you ask?

It really boils down to this: Yep, I know it’s 2017 and we wanna do #allthethings, for #fomo, and also #yolo. (Are the kids still saying that?)

But truly making an impact actually has to do with accepting that you can’t do it all.

That’s actually where your citizen changemaking path can begin.

Why Limitations Are Good News

For the fellow stubborn workaholic assholes in the room (nice to have you in the club), I hate to burst your bubble, but you’re not superhuman. You can’t do everything. You have to sleep sometimes and bringing balance into your life is necessary if you do not wish to go crazy.

Bummer, right?

Well, I suppose you could look at this as a negative, but in actuality it can be a huge relief. And it has to do with science. Dats right. The illusion of limitless choice.

An example: imagine a menu that had every single dish in the entire world on it (or perhaps for a more realistic imagery, picture the menu at your local takeout Chinese place).

There are too many choices, so we become paralyzed.

If I get the chicken teriyaki, I can’t get the sesame!

Or the wonton soup!

Or the sweet and sour — OH GOD WHAT IF I CHOOSE INCORRECTLY! THE FATE OF MY WHOLE CHINESE FOOD DINING EXPERIENCE RESTS ON THIS ORDER!

So you end up gaping at the menu for about 10 minutes until you become so frustrated you “just pick something”, feeling deflated and frustrated about the whole operation.

You got so overwhelmed by the possibility — and the fear of making the wrong choice — that it rendered your ability to choose nearly impossible.

Let’s Daydream for a Sec

Now, flip this situation to your community.

Imagine this:

You drive through town one day (not many sidewalks in your neck of the woods) and hit a huge pothole (that’s been there since Christmas!).

You pass a group of homeless folks asking for money, near a trash can that’s overflowing with recyclable materials.

When you stop at the local café for a cup of joe (styrofoam cup), you overhear groups of folks complaining about the library’s new limited hours due to the levy failing, and the rising cost of living in the surrounding neighborhoods.

A few blocks down, your favorite childhood playground, withering away due to lack of repair, has been largely abandoned, and everywhere you look, the only options for food seem to be junk.

The problems seem to be mounting, and as you mull over your town’s challenges, you think, “Anything I could do would be a drop in the bucket… plus, I wouldn’t even know where to start.”

And unfortunately, it’s there in this learned helplessness, that many people stop.

They lament the state of things, and dismiss their own agency in making a difference. Over time, this helpless feeling can turn to anger or to apathy.

Guess what? Bad news: Those problems don’t go away.

Guess what? Good news: We don’t have to accept them.

I propose a better option — instead of getting ourselves all down in the dumps about what we can’t do, how about instead we recognize what each of us is uniquely equipped to do and, well… start there?

Remember when we talked about the little girl and the starfish? (Refresher here.)

TL;DR — everyone can do something, and every difference counts. You just have to start.

But Where?

Trying to fix all the problems at once will probably mean you end up back at square one, frustrated and overwhelmed.

It helps to get focused.

Please note:

  • This DOES NOT mean that you can only ever solve one problem.
  • This DOES NOT mean you cannot leave your comfort zone and learn new things.
  • This DOES NOT mean that you have to fit into a box.

It is, most simply a place to start.

Usually a good bet is with yourself.

Finding out your personal best skills (and so, strongest area of focus) can help break down the problems you see around you into tackleable slices.

Using a super scientific process of categorization (inspired by many online personality tests), I’ve created a Citizen Changemaker Personality Test (oh how the tables have turned!).

By taking a quick, 5-question quiz, you can find out your unique changemaker profile, and then get hooked up with hand-picked resources, tools, and organizations so you can stop feeling helpless and get started taking action.

Pick one problem. Pick one piece. Tackle it with everything you’ve got.

Ready to to find out your unique way to change the world?

Take the Quiz.


Originally published at www.theimpactexplorer.com.