Call for Submissions: Everyday Leadership and the Question, “Why Don’t We Do it?”
Many “political nerds” have their favorite heroes. Notorious RBG t-shirts aren’t hard to find. These heroes also make for spirited exchanges over a beer or two. A colleague casually suggests it has been too long since you last got together so you take the bait. You always take the bait and you always find yourself trapped in another round of “how things would be different if Bobby Kennedy had lived.”
This is the time of year for a parade of favorites faces accompanied by short, simplified stories of hard work. Black History Month, Women’s History Month and even President’s Day Sales will have us surrounded by favorites and their familiar stories.
I can’t believe I forgot to mention those of you who are a little nutty over the musical Hamilton. That man is bringing U.S. History BACK!
The message in all these stories is that we’re a people who start things. We’re a people with ideas about how life should be. To better understand ourselves, however, we have to look into shadows of the favorite stories we re-tell each year. These hidden places can help us uncover thousands of smaller stories that reveal the moments where change started to take root, when a group of ordinary people stepped up to say something better was possible and how all these smaller stories finally combined to support the larger than life proportions of our mythic heroes.
This month, Politicolor is looking to share those smaller stories. Their familiarity is different. It isn’t in their frequent re-telling but through recognizing the opportunities we all have to lead change in our communities.
A Friend Asks Julian Bond, “Why don’t we do it?”
In reflecting back on his own activism, Julian Bond recalled that getting involved wasn’t his idea. While eating at a restaurant, a friend pointed to the day’s newspaper headline about Greensboro, North Carolina and the third day of sit-ins happening there. Bond responded with a comfortable assurance:
“I said I’d seen it and thought that someone would do the same thing in Atlanta.. Then he said, ‘Why don’t we do it?’”
That question launched Bond’s long career fighting for change, serving in elected in office, and teaching history at several U.S. universities.
Leadership guru Seth Godin has written about these moments as vacuums that persist until someone “feels enough push to overcome internal resistance and says, ‘Ok. I’ll do it.’” Bond’s friend saw a vacuum in Atlanta where no one was taking action to join the fight against inequality in public places. He knew he and his friends could be the ones to do it.
In an interview with NPR last year, Godin leveraged his work to answer the question, “Can ordinary people become leaders?” He tells us what the work of everyday leadership looks like:
If you want to be a leader, part of what you have to do is leverage the tools you’ve got, people you have and the momentum you have to do something that might not be comfortable and might not be fun but at least takes you to a new place that is productive and useful.
Godin’s work and Bond’s reflection on a brief moment in his past come together to help us understand what these smaller stories of leadership look like. This month we’re asking you to write about your own act of everyday leadership, when you were the one who said, “Ok. I’ll do it.”
Share your stories of challenging the status quo, creating a group identity where supporters felt like they belonged, pursuing a curiosity about how to do something better, connecting people to one another and their shared causes, or committing yourself to a cause and to the people supporting it.
In the interview with Godin, the NPR journalist recounts how he ended up in the lead role to get a new playground at his local park. We’ve written about movements as small as sharing a good sign and as elaborate a community art project reclaiming abandoned buildings and discarded belongings.
Large or small. Whether your effort served your small neighborhood, the whole city or a local group that makes your community work well, tell us your own story of everyday leadership.
Share your story with us by…
- Prospective writers for Politicolor will need to write their draft on Medium and send a a link to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you need help, send a message to that same address but be sure to include “help” in the subject line.
- If you’re work has previously appeared in our publication, submit your draft via the “…” icon and choose “add to publication.” We will acknowledge receipt of your work by either publishing it or getting in touch with you.
- Please send no more than two contributions per month. With few exceptions, most work will be added to Politicolor’s publication on Medium, Politicolor Sketchbook. Our editorial staff will review submissions and consider proposals for more frequent contributions once a writer has a history writing in the Politicolor mode.
- Our maximum length is 5,000 words (20 minute read). Short posts should be no shorter than 650 words (5 minute read).
- Your story should be well formatted, including subheadings and images (with proper attributions) to sustain interest, and be free of errors. Our editors will aim to publish your work unchanged but will correct obvious typos, add photos and adjust some formatting when necessary.
- We will verify that we received your story within 7 to 10 days. Work may not be published in the order that it is received but will be incorporated into the publication calendar to amplify the effect of shared themes or complementary efforts taking place on our main website.