Maurice Sendak had an incredible opportunity as a children’s author; he wrote stories that touched the lives of (probably) millions of children. I know that Where the Wild Things Are had a very regular spot in the rotation of books we were read as kids.
When I heard that he had passed away on Tuesday, it made me sit back and think of the role Where the Wild Things Are played in my life. And aside from the great morals it has for children, it has some valuable lessons that apply to the advocacy work that I do now at amplifi.
Don’t be afraid to speak out of turn
In Where the Wild Things Are, Max would never have left on his adventure had he not had the nerve (maybe not his mother’s words) to voice his opinion.
It’s easy to live our lives without looking around and seeing that there are issues and regulations that impact what we do all of the time. And even when these issues have negative impacts, keeping quiet is usually the path of least resistance.
But silence doesn’t lead to change. Successful advocacy requires people that are willing to speak up and mobilize others to take action to support the cause, whatever it may be.
Embrace the adventure
Advocacy is an adventure, with many twists, turns, friends and foes. Often you reach a point where there is an impenetrable wall in front of you and you must circle back, regroup and come back with a new strategy and
Participate authentically with your audience and they will become your champions
The Wild Things loved Max. They didn’t want him to leave them. They would have done anything for him.
But when he got there, they hated him. What made them change?
Max played with the Wild Things and spent time with them in a way that made them comfortable. He hung out in their trees, slept in their huts (or piles) and interacted with them on their level.
He was more or less one of them. And they loved him.
Interact with your audience where they are most comfortable and in a way that enables them to be open to you. This could be using a crowdsourcing tool, through a Facebook page, using video chat, or having a town hall in the community. If you work with them on their level they will embrace you and your cause.
It’s amazing the many valuable lessons we learned as kids.