Covey’s 7 habits in activist contexts #1: Be proactive

I know many of you will be familiar with the best-selling personal development and business book by Richard Covey, ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’.

I have enjoyed reading, studying and acting from this book, even though I haven’t yet fully digested every section. I am also aware that a book like this, culturally very American, is a product of a neoliberal capitalist culture which emphasizes personal agency in making change (change for self and community) at the expense of systemic forces of oppression which work against some individuals, for instance those in marginalised minority groups.

Nevertheless, the genre of self-development literature, often overlapping with entrepreneurial and business literature, can be utilised to serve activism and the overcoming of systemic oppression and injustice in society. At least as a privileged white, middleclass, (sort of) male activist, I can utilise and subvert lessons from self-development literature which afterall, on a personal level (the level of the author) often comes from a very noble and empathic place (we can say this much about Richard Covey). We can still acknowledge that there are unexamined prejudices and privilege dynamics in any author, including myself.

In Covey’s book he argues that we must make traits, attitudes and behaviours of personal excellence habitual, if they are to have any effect. For this post I would just like to concentrate on Covey’s first habit which is deceptively simple: ‘Be proactive’. The most ‘successful’ people (successful personally, in community, in business etc) Covey argues are ‘proactive’.

Covey explains this proactivity in various ways, including the suggestion to ‘always choose a positive response’ to a situation, including stimuli which are part of cycles of addiction. In the context of addiction this amounts to strengthening neural pathways by engaging in creative alternative behaviours in response to stimuli which usually bring about the addiction response. Thus we can see that fundamentally Covey believes in free will -our ability to choose to be better, to choose to grow and change.

The proactive person, Covey argues, has a large circle of influence and a small circle of concern, the latter being the arena of things that we worry about but do nothing to change; whereas the reactive person (that one who is always complaining) has a small circle of influence and a large circle of concern. I have found this model useful but it is simplistic and says nothing of the systematically oppressed person, for instance the drug addict who needs help but is criminalised, who has a small circle of influence, but may also have a small circle of concern, or may have a large circle of concern but because of systematic oppression linked to her gender, colour and background, finds it especially difficult to widen her circle of influence by ‘being more proactive’, as Covey would suggest she do.

Nevertheless, as a privileged activist I can be proactive to raise awareness, campaign and engage in direct actions, in ways which help to reduce the systematic oppression of others, not least by challenging moment by moment the complacent and sometimes addiction-forming responses I exhibit to certain stimuli which may reinforce my own privilege in an unhelpful way.

In a wide sense, we are a culture of addicts. In fact, addiction is at the core of neoliberalist capitalist economics: addiction to greed, addiction to wealth, addiction to status, addiction to beauty, addiction to materialism and addiction to power. Addiction to ‘making a name for onesself’, addiction to ‘being heard’ (by whatever media), addiction to the craving of acceptance by the prevailing society and its norms. Our addictions are fed by the marketing and advertising industries.

‘Proactive people make “love” a verb’ says Covey, whilst ‘reactive people make “love” a feeling’.

As activists, how can we develop the strength and consistency of active love required to raise awareness in ourselves to the height of understanding all our impulses and attitudes, and root out that which distances us from, by culturally raising us above, those that ‘the systems of our types’ (whether white, male, or comparatively wealthy or educated types) routinely oppress, including every non-human species upon this planet?

Breaking chains takes loving awareness, moment by moment.

 

 

!Call out to 18-45’s activists! 35% discount on trial product ‘Epic Life Options’!

I invite 18-45’s activists to get in touch with me to offer your thoughts on how I could serve you with an affordable information-based product that could make future life-choices much more manageable, in such a way that your activism can be continued. This is the Epic Life Options personalised guide, a product-in-development. I have a few simple market research questions I would like to ask you. In return for your time I will give you a 35% discount on the final product. Read through this post for more details.

I propose to offer a variety of information about future career and activism opportunities all in the same personalised life-guide, based on an initial free consultation where as a prospective customer you would tell me your interests and preferences. The life-guide would also be based on different possible futures for humanity as a whole, as identified by Epic Tomorrows.

Well-being will also be a key element of the guide. Having worked in mental health and having been on the receiving end of conventional mental health services, I believe I have a valuable different approach to well-being that I can offer.

Tell me, is this something you would pay for, and if so, how much?

I would love to run through a few simple questions with you by email, phone-call or video-call, to see if my proposed product is something that might suit you, and if not, is there other information or guidance I could provide which may suit you better?

Email me on matthew.tehanu@gmail.com

-Thanks! (This invitation and offer is repeated at the end of the post)

*

It’s been about nine months since I started this blog and I’m finally at the point where I can offer some business hypotheses which I hope will be the basis of genuinely valuable and useful information products for my chosen demographic. My chosen demographic, after much brainstorming over the months, and many scrapped and refined diagrams and suchlike, is activists between the ages of 18-45 -particularly those involved in non-violent direct action (NVDA). 

*

Recently I was involved in my first NVDA (non-violent direct action) in London. We of RisingUp! were protesting the passing through British parliament of the proposals for a third Heathrow runway -which in our view is a wholly inappropriate project in light of its location and other factors. A dozen of us or so went on hunger strike to put pressure on MPs to vote against the runway, which we argue, they knew would be the morally correct decision. During meetings we had, I flagged up that People Care of the activists had fallen by the wayside a little. A more experienced activist agreed with me and said that sadly, in the heat of actions, People Care was sometimes neglected. So as I was leaving the action early, when I got home I offered to be on call for well-being check-ins for the activists, which was greatly appreciated. This is where some former counselling training came in useful. I realised that there is a real niche for well-being services for activists, to prevent burnout, in a way that supports their general progression in life. For the amazing organisation that is RisingUp! I am happy to contribute to their well-developed regenerative culture for free alongside the other volunteers, but I feel there is a deeper level of People Care -integrated with life-planning- that activists from many different organisations may be interested in as a paid-for service, if I offer it.

I want to nurture the well-being of activists and show them that activism, career and family can be combined in ways they may not have thought possible.. This isn’t ‘any old’ business idea. This comes from a place of wanting deep global system change.

I am currently testing two hypotheses. These hypotheses may need refining (or changing completely) over time: 

1) There is a need for a specific well-being service / well-being advice for 18-45 activists, to prevent burn-out, and take care of the activist during and after the stress of actions, in a way that their long-term mental health is safe-guarded. Personal well-being issues around the individual motivation of activists must also be addressed, accepting that trauma can be a large part of motivation, either in an unhealthy way or a healthy way.

2) There is a need for career / life mentoring advice specifically for 18-45 activists. This includes encouraging more entrepreneurship, which is key in breaking the hold on our society of some of the large unethical corporations. (However, I understand that not all activists are suited to the business / self-employment idea. I can provide mentoring tailored to all 18-45’s activists.) A lack of career and life-mentoring advice for activists is resulting in some people ceasing activist activities as they pursue a career or family. These people mistakenly believe that a career or family life must be opposed to the activist lifestyle. Other activists may feel constantly stretched, trying to balance activism, career, family life and personal well-being. I intend to show that once the correct options are made available, an optimum synthesis of activism, career, family and personal well-being can be achieved.

The Epic Life Options personalised guide is my experimental answer to both 1) and 2) above.

*

I invite 18-45’s activists to get in touch with me to offer your thoughts on how I could serve you with an affordable information-based product that could make future life-choices much more manageable, in such a way that your activism can be continued. This is the Epic Life Options personalised guide, a product-in-development. I have a few simple market research questions I would like to ask you. In return for your time I will give you a 35% discount on the final product. 

I propose to offer a variety of information about future career and activism opportunities all in the same personalised life-guide, based on an initial free consultation where as a prospective customer you would tell me your interests and preferences. The life-guide would also be based on different possible futures for humanity as a whole, as identified by Epic Tomorrows.

Well-being will also be a key element of the guide. Having worked in mental health and having been on the receiving end of conventional mental health services, I believe I have a valuable different approach to well-being that I can offer.

Tell me, is this something you would pay for, and if so, how much?

I would love to run through a few simple questions with you by email, phone-call or video-call, to see if my proposed product is something that might suit you, and if not, is there other information or guidance I could provide which may suit you better?

Email me on matthew.tehanu@gmail.com

-Thanks!

 

 

 

 

!Block The Roads! #VoteNoHeathrow

The #VoteNoHeathrow campaign organised by http://www.risingup.org.uk calls on all peaceful activists in the London area to join in the roadblock of Parliament Square (outside the Houses of Parliament) today at 18.30. #VoteNoHeathrow campaigners who have been on hunger strike for the past 13 days over the proposed third Heathrow runway, call for solidarity and action. They call on all brave and peaceful London-based activists to descend on Parliament Square to protest the proposed commercial expansion of Heathrow which is due to be voted on in parliament on Monday. The third runway project is an example of rampant corporate capitalism and will benefit the richest in society at the expense of the poorest and at the expense of the environment, not just in terms of air and noise pollution but accelerating climate change the world over, as expansion at Heathrow implicitly supports expansion at other airports globally.

The #VoteNoHeathrow campaigners have been hunger striking to put pressure on MPs to vote against the 3rd runway, but regardless of whether or not they vote for it, we must send Westminster a clear message today: it is the intention of responsible people in this country that the third runway will not be built. This is a message for Theresa May and Chris Grayling, the transport secretary: the third runway will not be built. If you want to play at Empire so foolishly, buy a Lego set.

There are many groups campaigning against the third runway. The message must be spread to the public of the UK, by-passing our biased and relatively apathetic media, that those who care, predominantly care against the runway. Since our parliamentary democracy is no democracy at all, it is up to the social media democracy of Facebook and Twitter to raise our voices. On Twitter, these are just a few of the groups that are against the third runway: @RunawayHeathrow @staygrounded3 @NoThirdRunwayLD @GoBackHeathrow.

The mayor of London Sadiq Khan is against the runway. The Conservative Party MP Greg Hands has just resigned his cabinet position in protest against the third runway. The runway issue crosses traditional political party boundaries. This is not about left and right wing (pun intended) -this is about doing the right thing.

Do not be apathetic. If you believe in democracy, and if it is your intention and wish that the third runway is not built, then add your voice to #VoteNoHeathrow. This is a call to all peaceful socialist, anarchist and other activist groups in Greater London. Join #VoteNoHeathrow and block the roads around Parliament Square at 18.30 this evening. If you are against corporatism, cronyism, plutocracy, and the wilful destruction of the environment, then you are against the third runway.

Twitter: @VoteNoHeathrow

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/votenoheathro/

 

 

#VoteNoHeathrow (Activist Diary #1)

A few days ago, on the coach back to Exeter from London, there was a point southwest of Bristol at which the coach had almost emptied and green and yellowed plains, punctuated by lines and huddles of shrub and tree, opened out on the left hand side of the M5 motorway. At this point, my body and mind relaxed tangibly and at once. I breathed deeply and felt satisfied that I had braved out the last few days in London, called there by a non-violent direct action (NVDA) campaign run by Rising Up. (www.risingup.org.uk).

Nothing else at this moment in my life could have called me to London. I find Bristol city challenge enough after living a rural existence these past few years, very sensitive as I am to the built environment and the psychogeography of moving crowds, their unconscious desires, my identity existentially threatened by sheepiness and strong individuals alike.

But Bristol is a fine city, as far as cities go, being as they are intrinsically problematic, ecologically. A few weeks ago, anxious for new forms of society in my life, eager to make up for years of ‘social phobia’ and social trauma, I came across an activist group on Facebook (which does have its uses) -‘Rising Up’. I soon met some of these fine people in a house in Easton somewhere. We shared good food and discussed the other world that is possible. Or rather, we discussed how to challenge this world more effectively.

A couple of weeks and a meeting or two later and I am on a coach to London to engage in my first NVDA (not that I’ve been involved in a violent one). Namely, hunger striking for 24 hours, and potentially longer, outside the Labour HQ on Victoria Street to help put pressure on Labour MPs to vote against the third Heathrow runway proposals, due to finally go through parliament (after earlier government approval) in the coming few days. Why? Because a third Heathrow runway is a contribution to climate breakdown, habitat destruction, the global rich-poor divide and leaden guilt in the collective human soul.

There were a good fifteen or twenty of us sat in a row hunger striking on Saturday June 9th, including Rising Up activists, local Heathrow residents and members of the experimental ‘Grow Heathrow’ land-based project occupying where Heathrow wants to covet. We received some good press coverage, including from The Guardian, and independent media providers Undercurrents and Real Media. Far from being a socially anxious shivering wreck as nightmarish projections might have me believe I would be, I enjoyed the feeling of solidarity with my new comrades and the chance to actually influence government policy (along with all the other fine campaigners from other groups protesting the third runway, who weren’t present with us). I also enjoyed people-watching. Sitting on the pavement for a few hours was the ideal opportunity to view all manner of human being, and sleek motor-vehicles with Middle Eastern flags crawling down the street.

Playing our cards a little wild, hearing that John McDonnell the Shadow Chancellor might not meet us the next day if we hung around outside Labour HQ, we hot-footed it to the union Unite building a few blocks away, parked ourselves, chanted and felt our emotional momentum rising as we protested the ridiculousness of Unite (and anyone) supporting a grossly unsustainable project just because it ‘creates jobs’. Afterall, wars create jobs. In the middle of the day I slipped off down a side street to get some water. I found a cute refined gallery-cafe in the bricked terrace, exhibiting modern (or post-modern?) Afro-Carribean, or African (or I’m not sure) art. Large paintings entitled ‘Fragility #1’, ‘Fragility #4’ etc, of gorgeous black women in colourful wrap around dress, and all featuring little porcelain Captain Cooks in the background. Fearful of being in the city as I was, and not dressed proper, and fragile to get back to the frontline, I could not express my appreciation. Shame, but nevertheless I emerged with water from the gallery-cafe waitress, victorious.

Turning our backs on Captain Cook, the Texan-Oil mentality of Heathrow and the dusty roar of plastic progress, we arrived at what would be our dwelling, meeting place, tea-drinking place and spiritual commune over the next few days, believe it or not, an anarchist-Catholic chapel and boarding house in Haringey. To the Catholic Workers there we are ever grateful.

In the evening, feeling like it was some macho test to stay up and watch the film (but that was all in my head) and I’m glad I stayed awake to soak in the Freedom Riders, of segregation-era America. ‘If they did that, which they did, we can do this, we can do so much more than this.’ The omnipotence of non-violence. Wholly applicable. Wholy.

The first night sleeping in the chapel, on the hard floor, my dreams were manic and pained. I was threatened by dark elements of the public and also by mysterious Arabs, (like Qatar investing in Heathrow). My demons fast purged, chapel purged?

The next day Sunday my friend Patti arrived and took some sketches of moments of us being human. See them here, and top of post. The weather was changeable but our spirits remained high. It was the Queen’s birthday one of these days, I couldn’t care less which, but troop-carriers and red arrows flying overhead were like some grand and ominous sign, a reflection of the weight and fire in us activists, but the waste and pyre of this state we live in. McDonnell on the periphery, meeting us or one of us.

[Oil flowing through London’s streets. Exhausted cars and polyester sweaters. Buildings in flames. Children in flames, toddling along oblivious.]

**(*)

Then some of us left, bravest warriors to return to oil-drenched lives, and brave of us left to sit in oil, to carry on with no food, no air-freighted oil inside us at least -our guts were rather dry for the fight, the non-violent fight of the days ahead -we fasted. Little had I realised that we would be working as we not-ate, notating comms to dispatch to MPs and to the leviathans of the Queenly British press, and the indie (hard) pressed outlets, and anyone we could fucking get hold of.

Over the next few days, the London Underground, the blunder-thunder-round, the not-so-merry climate-bound, carrying hunger-strike placards and sticks, balancing banners, convening in cafes and on street corners, Roger-and-Simon led by their greater experience, deciding where to double-strike next. On Wednesday in the lobby of the House of Commons, some of us laid down to die. We hadn’t had enough -not quite yet -actually not by a long stretch of red chalk. I filmed some of it, and tried again and again, thwarted by a bored security guard. At first Robin shouted, shouted the threat, any shout an understatement of threat, even in the Houses of Parliament, of the climate catastrophe that could well await us. He was led out, as usual, used to police escorts by now. Clare was gone, procuring red chalk paint etc for some mischief on the morrow’s morrow.

**(*)

That evening, on the Wednesday, I broke my fast with some wonderful hummous in a Turkish restaurant down the road from our digs. Quite appropriately, the megalomaniac Turkish president Erdogan did not cross my mind. I do wonder how much carbon is embedded in the arms that Theresa May sells him at all our expenses, and at the expense of the Kurdish people of Eastern Turkey and Northern Syria whom he oppresses.

As I travelled back home the next day, the remaining hunger-strikers travelled to Scotland to do this.

So thanks to all my new activist friends -due to the structure and vision of Rising Up, I now realise that NVDA can make a difference, has made a difference and will continue to make a difference.

Please urge your MP to #VoteNoHeathrow. Please spread the message of #VoteNoHeathrow and visit our social media pages for exciting videos and updates of our very necessary actions in this age of doublethink, ecocide, and the willful genocide of our children and grandchildren by political elites.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/votenoheathro/

Twitter: @VoteNoHeathrow

(Thank you to Roger, Simon, Clare, Ian, Ian’s-lovely-partner-whose-name-I’ve-forgotten, Robin, Jenny, Richard, Stuart, Calum, Annie [Grow Heathrow], Sibi, Cam, Marcha, Gwen, Christian, Jeremy [Green Party], Amy, Randell, Zoe from Undercurrents, Rikki from Real Media, Luka, Indie, Willow, Frieda and anyone I’ve forgotten)

Constructive News

In the midst of war-torn Syria, in the generally patriarchal Middle Eastern region, an all-women ecological village has sprung up, nurturing the self-determination of women from all backgrounds.

http://jinwar.org/

 

These incredible teenage British conservationists give me hope for the future.

https://www.positive.news/2018/environment/31995/in-our-nature-the-young-conservationists/

 

Is this information on fossil fuel use and climate change to be trusted? If it is, it’s deeply positive news.

https://www.positive.news/2018/environment/32223/could-we-beat-global-warming-5-megatrends-to-look-out-for/

 

Global child mortality is at an all-time low.

https://ourworldindata.org/child-mortality

 

Positive youth activism, from Austin Texas, addressing human, animal and environmental welfare.

http://heatestablishment.com/

 

American activists score victories against the most anti-progressive proposed policies of Donald Trump.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/07/trump-activists-anti-progressive-policies

 

Five historical powerful movements fuelled by young activists, to inspire all of us today.

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/03/youth-activism-young-protesters-historic-movements/

 

 

 

Heroine Quest

Welcome to the Epic Futures of Earth. Heroines and heroes of all genders and none, all races and none, all sexualities and none, now is your time. Join our quest in any way you are able. Join the Epic Tribe.

The heroine quest; the mission statement; the vision:

beginning here and now;

1) To create true Permaculture, including rewilding, in Southwest England by co-developing with its inhabitants, a model of regional resource sovereignty, regional governance and a resilient post-capitalist regional economy. To network with similar movements around the world.

2) In support of and supported by the above, to dismantle the biomedical model of mental illness, at least on a regional level, in favour of a sociocultural model as standard.

3) In support of and supported by the above, to pioneer and develop an Ecopreneurial Descent economics, responding to the coming energy Descent, future global conflicts and the emergent relocalisation of global culture. eDe is ‘using capitalism to go beyond capitalism’.

4) In support of and supported by the above, to pioneer Hammerhead Activism; a super-organised form of activism which seeks to bring together disparate activist groups, including Arts activists, to pressure worst corporate offenders, (WCOs), tackling mercilessly one WCO at a time, and advancing tenfold the end of corporatism on this Earth.

5) In support of and supported by the above, to address the unconscious and conscious narratives and stories which guide modern global capitalist culture, and to facilitate the normalising of new more helpful narratives, non-patriarchal, non-oppressive and post-capitalist.