Stewart Acuff

Feb 19

Ten Ways to Become the Best Organizer You Can Be

A very good young organizer and writer named Jason Mann suggested I do this. I hope it is useful. Feel free to distribute any way that advances our cause of workers and human rights.

- Learn to be an active listener. The core skill for an organizer is to listen intently. Listening is much more important than talking. Playing Bigger Than You Are: A Life in Organizing is full of tips on listening.

- Learn to be comfortable discussing matters of great importance with complete strangers.

- Become comfortable meeting new people.

- Learn the housecall or home visit or door knock. You will use this skill your entire organizing life. There are plenty of tips on the house call in Playing Bigger Than You Are: A Life in Organizing.

- Learn to breakdown issues that have been made artificially complicated into simple, kitchen table concepts. That is the entire purpose of Getting America Back to Work. Reading it will not only prepare you to discuss economics policy, but help you see how to break down issues – so will reading this blog.

- Become comfortable with conflict and confrontation. They are inherent in organizing. We are hell raisers, up-enders, outside agitators, rabble rousers. We believe Robin Hood was right – and Jesus and Frederick Douglass and WEB DuBois and Gene Debs and Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman and Gandhi and Dr. King. More on this in Playing Bigger Than You Are: A Life in Organizing.

- Stoke the fire in your belly. Maintain a passion for fairness and justice. Love your neighbor. Fight inequality. This is the foundation of your work.

- Learn to teach people to work together for the common good. Lots on this in Playing Bigger Than You Are: A Life in Organizing.

- Hate injustice and oppression and cruelty in all its many forms. Cheer for the underdog.

- Believe in the power of average people to do remarkable things. That is the central story of human history.

- Learn what Dr. King meant when he said “The moral arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice. ” And what Acuff meant when he said that it bends quicker when a lot of us are pulling on it.

There is more. I’ve taught these lessons and many more to thousands of organizers at all levels. Contact me through the contact page on this site BY CLICKING HERE for me to teach or speak about these and many other needs in our struggle for social and economic justice.

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Stewart Acuff is the former organizing Director of the AFL-CIO. Acuff has also written two books: Playing Bigger Than You Are: A Life in Organizing, and Getting America Back to Work.

Playing Bigger Than You Are - A Life in OrganizingGet the e-book edition of Playing Bigger Than You Are by clicking here!

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