I moved away from the Positively Inclined brand choosing to focus, not on an organization but on the individual (myself, Ervin Welsh). It’s become standard that we create things bigger than ourselves before we’ve sufficiently created ourselves. Organizations take on a life of their own when they should be extensions and magnifications of individual capacity and individual impact, by way of organizing.
I decided not to build an organization in the way we typically do. I mad this decision because it’s not organization’s activities or interventions that are fatally flawed, it’s at the individual level we fall so very short.
There are many organizations in my experience that come about as a collection of persons who try to figure out how to help a cause or causes. Weekly or monthly meetings involve them trying to decide what they should do and when. Organizations are supposed to be a community of individuals that comes about because of shared views and aims. What to do and when, should come natural because, as individuals, those involved would have already been invested in these causes. The organization would then be a pooling of human and other resources (organizing).
That this isn’t the case is our problem. Another issue is rather than the cause(s), it becomes about the organization itself. All energy is divided between keeping the name of the organization on the tip of the public’s tongue (promotion) and generating money to keep the organization going (fundraising and financial support seeking). Between these two primary preoccupations and trying to figure out what the organization can do to fulfill it’s mandates, the cause for which the organization is said to be in existence is subordinated to what amounts to keeping it going for show. The unfortunate thing about this is it’s not obvious to those perpetuating the cycle.
Detours & Wrong Directions
I saw my own orientation in this direction. I saw myself pick up trends like:
- Quote making
- Content sharing (predominantly) versus creating original content (of which I had more than a lifetime’s worth of latent possibility)
- Conversation starting versus conversation elevating
- Spending more time engaging and growing an audience than understanding what I needed to understand in order to positively affect (for the long-haul) the causes I chose to shoulder
In addition to seeing my own detours retrospectively, I saw the way other organizations unravel:
- Being more interested in your membership than your participation.
- Exaggerating impact of activities, which would be understandable (not right but understandable) if for funding that would then be used to increase impact. But in the instances observed, organizers weren’t even concerned with impact, they were concerned with looking like they made one.
- Thinking more deeply about fundraising, promotion and membership-drives, than what the organization does and would do in future.
- Organizing (as interventions) public forums that should have been in-house educational activities, based on the paucity of provocative content.
- Promoting their involvement in initiatives as greater than the case and this when it was only not the case because they chose to only contribute as much as they did.
- Adopting copycat approaches to content creation and advocacy.
- Thought provoking individuals get sidetracked by efforts to maintain their audience, becoming curators, where their own thoughts held far more profound value than (today) than the content they share.
- Major initiatives have had minor impact because the threshold of participation needed, was as too far surpassed and so activities became social events versus interventions.
- Had organizations been more oriented around their causes than their events, they’d be able to mobilize and make use of this interest for the benefit of the organization in other ways, rather than seeing attendance as a metric through which success is measured.
- Organizations are filled with conflicting values, interests and expectations which have nothing to do with yet conflicting perspectives and opinions, which pose further threat to the organization and it’s causes.
- The latter is what a diverse group will have and can be managed if the organization had the right starting points.
- The former is where groups become salvageable.
- The list goes on.
I chose to move away from the Positively Inclined brand also because it was, in the eyes of many, something bigger than it was. I’ve always put the brand Positively Inclined where my name could personally be. It’s never been about me, it has always been about my work, but the with the name, the logo, the popularity and presence, the impact and references, people thought of an organization with large membership and large budget. Positively Inclined has always been an individual project (notwithstanding the few persons I’ve leaned so heavily on throughout the years).
As I re-calibrated focus away from the trends I earlier referenced having began to follow, I started publishing my own work. To this, my face was attached and largely because it was costly in money and time, to create the artwork I use to. I actually had to coe to term with lowering my personal standards of artistic excellence so that I could use my time creating developing the massive body of work I needed to. But persons would see my image and read my words, both of which exuded power, and they saw an authority figure they admired. Admiration is one thing. It’s fine. But my work has always emphasized, the power we (us all) have as individuals to create the reality we want to experience. Inaction as a consequence of admiration is something I did not want to be a part of.
I moved away from the brand and I also moved away from my “professional” image (partly) to highlight the point that there is nothing so different about me that others should look to with reverence — they are equally capable — and my life’s work is helping them understand this and helping them achieve equal stature.
My work today is an extension of me. Rather than have it presented in the name of a brand that people think they can’t build (or one they even believe they need to build) and rather than have people think that mine is an organization with tens of members, while they don’t have similar resources to support their efforts, I present myself as Ervin Welsh — an individual — and one that actively and intentionally creates the change I want to see by being said change.
There are 3 i’s in “team”; these are “individuals” — me, myself and I you could say. A team is nothing without individuals giving their all. ~ ervin
My approach involves me doing my best and collaborating with others who are involved in the same pursuit and who wish to make a positive impact on the whole. I work in service of social progress and the entire model is my effort to point our collective and therefore individual efforts in that direction.
- See Welsh, Ervin. (2017, September 15). Telos: The Truth for more about how organizations of any sort are to function.
- See Welsh, Ervin. (2017). On Doing Your Best where I speak about making this decision.