Confidence and Humility

Over the past few months in the advocacy training that I have been running across Eastern Europe and Central Asia, I found myself focusing on two words: confidence and humility.

I found that having done an initial training in advocacy, it is often the case that people need a bit more support thinking through what it means in practical terms to develop a theory of change. Or, as I like to call it, a future story.

As regular readers of this blog will know, I’ve done quite a bit of writing on the subject of how to make a theory of change come to life. And I’m particularly keen to share a practical example with people so that they can see the theory in action.

And in my training, I encourage people, with their colleagues, to have a robust conversation about their understanding of their own external environment. The results of this discussion then should form the foundation for the development of the theory of change or future story. Basically, how do you see your campaign bringing about change?

Having articulated this theory of change, and written it down, I don’t underestimate the fact that it takes quite a degree of confidence to develop such a written statement. None of us can see into the future, and it does require confidence to say, in your best opinion and based on your external environmental assessment, this is how you see change happening.

But having produced this document, the worst thing that you can do is then just put it to one side and seek to implement it. Having shown confidence to construct it, you then need to show humility in inviting challenge to your theory of change. The more that I’m involved in advocacy campaigns, the more that I think a real skill for an effective campaigner is the willingness and openness to be challenged.

So, to be an affective campaigner you do need the confidence to develop your theory of change – your future story. You need to write it down and share it with key people. But you also need to have the humility to be open to challenge. When you come across challenges that you can’t answer, don’t plough on regardless but learn from this challenge and discuss with your colleagues how you can respond to the challenge and change your theory of change so that it increases the likelihood of success.

For me as a campaigner, having both confidence and humility are probably two of the most important things you need to be able to promote a campaign over time to bring about change.


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