Today marks the day when I will begin to share a series of short essays that I have synthesized from many personal, professional and classroom experiences over the last 20 years. I hope to provide easy to understand knowledge and "how to" approaches to inspire the millions of individuals who are asking "What's next?"
One trait that effective leaders possess is knowing when and how to call people to action. Regardless of what a leader is "calling people to act on", they must understand when and how to build widespread support. Just as important, they need to understand the "next steps" that follow a "call to action".
Throughout my life I have monitored current events in our country. First as a young student, then as a speech and debate team member in high school. During my undergraduate years in college I immersed myself in the liberal arts including literature, history, political science, the social sciences, communications and economics. In graduate school I focused my studies further in business management, finance, organizational development, planning and community development.
As I learned to think critically and honed those skills over time, I repeatedly found myself asking: What is the difference between a problem and an issue?
When a leader is asked "What's next?" they need to understand and be able to explain the difference between a problem and an issue. In short, a problem can't be solved, fixed or eliminated. It is to big, widespread and complex. An issue, on the other hand, is Immediate, Specific and Realizable.
The next step after a "call to action" is defining the issue. Defining an issue is not difficult. But, it requires clarity of intention and discipline. And, the first step in defining an issue is listing all of the things we think we are trying to affect, and then identifying the most immediate and specific task or outcome that can be and needs to be achieved.
When you are thinking about how you are going to affect change -- think about what you can do tomorrow, this week, this month. Identify where you hope it will take you. How will you know when you have moved the needle? How will you know what the next step after that will be?