Advocacy begins with one lonely voice

During this time of having our hyper-partisan political world dominate the new cycles and hijack any remaining common sense from our elected officials, it may seem easiest to just give up and label Washington and/or your state capital as nothing more than expensive real estate occupied by idiots. While this last statement may still be true, it still matters that we reach out and let people know about issues and problems that impact the good things we do. Yes, your voice can make a difference!

A former state representative from Bloomington once shared with me that if she heard from more than three or four constituents on a single issue, that it would stand out and prompt her to pay closer attention to the bill or related topic being discussed. Even if she did not agree with the positions being advocated by those she heard from, she was able to gain a deeper understanding and learn more about the reality that such laws can have on those she was elected to represent.

When advocating, I have found that my most effective efforts involve me being able to personalize the issue and frame it in such a way so that it’s impact is real. It is not enough to say “I’m for/against this because it is a good/bad idea.” Talk about why an issue is important and share the impacts that happen should it be supported or defeated.

My most recent reach out to a legislator was to my state senator here in Michigan. I spoke about the impact that the post Labor Day school start was having on not only my professional life (as a school administrator) but I was also able to touch on the impact this law has on my family and how the reality has come to pass. It is this personalization that has the best impact, not simply my position for or against something.

Of course, while there are times we may be “preaching to the choir” there are likely to be as many times when we “talking to a brick wall”. The key, I believe, is making it personal and real. Really, that’s good advice for anything we want to be successful in achieving!

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