When i was studying architectural history for a while, one of the lessons i learned was ‘always look up’. When you walk along a street, you see the modern facades at street level, but by looking up, you see the history. The tops of building are rarely changed, showing the old facade, and the scars and alterations of decades. It was this thought that came to me as i wrote the ‘5 Things a Social Leader does every day’, but instead of ‘looking up’, i thought we should ‘look down’.
Within established systems of power, we are well used to looking up: we look up to our managers, our leaders, to those people who hold strategy and budget. But they are already well catered to within the formal system. Perhaps the thing that we should be doing is ‘looking down’, seeing how we can support, how we can be in service to, those with less power than ourselves. We should do this to learn, to listen, not to teach.
The ways that we act as we ‘look up’ may directly impact our progress through the formal system. But the ways we act, with kindness, as we ‘look down’, will serve you better than ambition. It’s an investment into the community, and that community will bear us forwards. It will hold us safe.