heARTful Action: Three Questions

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“My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness. ” — Maya Angelou

heARTful is a word I made up to mean awareness from and leading with the heart. heARTful Action posts focus on how to stand up and create a culture of health, inclusion and kindness. heARTful Action posts are calls to love warriors everywhere.

One of the many realizations I’ve had recently is that my tendency is to think that someone else (who is smarter, braver, more capable, etc.) will do what needs doing. I tend to vote and then leave it to the elected officials to figure things out. I often feel shy or uninformed so I don’t stand up for issues that I care about. I tend to say, “I can’t do very much given my schedule/budget/skills” so I do nothing.

Part of my heARTful action is shifting this belief and changing this habit. At a recent heARTful action gathering, my friend Kate Bennis (she’s also a social worker, an actor, a writer and a whole list of other amazements) reminded me of three excellent questions to ask when wondering where to put my time and energy:

What do you love to do?
What are you good at?
What is needed?

What do you love to do?

Think of a time when you felt useful and empowered and it felt effortless. Sometimes it’s called “being in the Zone” or “the flow.” It’s a feeling of firing on all cylinders without tension or dullness. Write down what you were doing and the skills you were using in those situations. Another way at this is to ask yourself if all your financial needs were taken care of, what would get you up in the morning? If you could plan your day any way you wanted, what would you do?

“Love To” Action: Make as long a list as possible of the things you love to do.

What are you good at?

This one can be a little tricky. For many of us it can be challenging to accurately determine what we’re really good at. Sometimes we love to do something even though we’re not good at it (and sometimes our love for the activity clouds our view). If we really do something well, we often don’t even notice it or think of it as a particular skill. We think, “Aw, that? That’s nothing. Everybody can do that.” But they can’t. For this action, it’s great to call on a couple of good friends who know you well from different arenas of your life. Ask her what you do well at work, ask him what you do well at church, ask her what you do best at home. See what you discover.

“Good At” Action: Make as long a list as possible of the things you are good at.

What is needed?

This is an important question to ask often with humility and an open heart. In our enthusiasm to help, it can be easy make assumptions about what’s best to do without asking those directly involved. Connect with people on the ground, living and working in the situation, about what would be the greatest help and support. Offer your ideas if you’re asked but mostly listen. Recognize that circumstances are changing all the time, so these conversations need to be ongoing and this question needs to be asked over and over.

“What’s Needed” Action: Make a list of what’s needed right now (and keep revising as things change).

Now look at all three lists and see where there is any kind of intersection between your “Needed” list and the other two.

Make a commitment to do one of those things this week.

Shine on, Love Warriors.

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