The Story Behind the Three Ground Rules

When I first started crafting this experiment, I wanted to come up with a set of ground rules that embodied the spirit of this work. Having done this kind of work for a decade, I had lots and lots of potential ground rules to draw from. However, the three I chose were quite different from ones I’ve used in the past.

1. Be nice to yourself. Many changemakers I know tend to want to take care of others before they take care of themselves. In fact, many seem to feel guilty about taking care of themselves. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, changemaking needs to start with self-compassion. I wanted to establish that from the very beginning, and I’m glad that I did. Anna and Marie joked that I cited this rule so often, it should go on a T-shirt. Great idea!

2. Be nice to others. Self-explanatory, but good to make explicit.

3. Don’t be nice. I went to see the YouthSpeaks finals a few years ago, and I noticed that the participants would shout this in support of their peers on stage. I loved it! Making change isn’t about being nice. Neither is learning. It’s about being real. I realize that this rule seems to conflict with ground rules 1 and 2, but one of the key literacies in today’s world is effectively balancing tensions, so I felt perfectly comfortable with this.

What do you think about these ground rules? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

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About Eugene Eric Kim

Eugene helps groups learn how to come alive and collaborate more skillfully together. He spent ten years consulting with companies across different sectors, from Fortune 500 companies to grassroots movements. He’s now focusing his efforts on helping others develop the same skills that he uses to help groups.

7 thoughts on “The Story Behind the Three Ground Rules

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  3. rapetzel

    It’s interesting that the young daughters struggled to balance these tensions. How young is too young to start building that capacity?

  4. eugevon

    I interpret #3 as “Don’t be polite”. In Chinese, we say 不要客氣, which translates to “Don’t act like a guest.” with the message to be at home.

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