Russel and Lindsey fundraising, learning and getting fit all at once… 

We wallowed in mud to learn about advocacy so you don’t have to…

By Gina Olivieri, Russell Bailey and Lindsey Little.

Luckily you can learn all about advocacy without getting even the tiniest bit muddy at our 30th Anniversary National Conference, May 28 and 29 in Sydney.

But we decided to do it the hard way, so you don’t have to!

Back in February our adventurous team from Hobart took part in Raw Challenge – an 8km obstacle course through lots of mud – to raise money for RESULTS.

Here’s what we learned along the way…

1. It’s better in a team

There is no way any of us would have individually spent our day running about in the mud and climbing over things. But when you’re in a team you’re emboldened to tackle obstacles, real and metaphorical, you’d never thought possible. Encouragement made all the difference; even when we fell off obstacles or couldn’t quite manage to get ourselves over that big wall, we went further and felt better for the encouragement of our team-mates than if we’d tried alone. Having someone yell at you that you’re “doing great”, even when you feel like you’re inches from certain death, is an amazing motivator.

Likewise as part of a RESULTS group, with the encouragement and support of your team, you can achieve more as an advocate, and try new things, than you ever thought possible alone.

2. Outside your comfort zone is where the magic happens

“One of the obstacles was a slanted wall we had to scale by pulling ourselves up using a very slippery rope. I tried making my way up and the first time slipped down the rope, landing on my feet. But it turns out to get up this wall, you have to walk up feet first, leaving your head and body closer to the ground than your feet. This is unnerving to say the least! But sure enough, this counterintuitive method is the way to scale the wall, and I got to the top. I was not comfortable during that climb, let me tell you, but getting outside my comfort zone made the difference and got the result. It felt pretty good to get over that wall!”

Similarly as an advocate, meeting MPs and calling up newspaper editors can be awfully uncomfortable. What if I say something stupid? What if they throw me out? What if I embarrass myself we think. But the rewards can be immense if you’re willing to sit with that discomfort and see what happens.

3. Seeing someone else succeed helps you succeed

“Faced with a 3 metre high wall with nothing but a small ledge near the top to grab onto, I didn’t think I had much hope of getting over the top. I was weighing up whether or not to have a go, when a procession of men including Russ merrily leaped up the wall, grabbed the ledge, and effortlessly swung themselves up and over.

‘OK, so it’s possible’, I thought to myself, ‘but then again those are big beefy blokes. Maybe I’m not strong enough to do that…’

Still, the thought that it wasn’t impossible won out, and I gave it a shot. I mimicked those men, running at the wall, leaping into it and making a grab for the ledge. First try: fail. I didn’t jump high enough, couldn’t get a grip and fell straight off. Second try: Made it! I felt like a total ninja.

Advocacy lesson; if you’ve never done something before, like write a letter to the editor or call an MP’s office, and don’t think you can do it, watch somebody else. Then do what they do. And if you fail, try again. Learn from watching other advocates around you.

4. You gotta keep on moving forward!

The course was 8km and took us about 3 hours to get through. If we were to walk 8km through our neighbourhood, it certainly wouldn’t take 3 hours! The mud and obstacles slowed us down. We didn’t get discouraged by this though, we just kept ploughing ahead and enjoying the journey.

As long as you’re taking action to move towards your goal, progress will always happen but the rate matters. Progress that’s supported and assisted by others (such as the Government, media, your group and your community) is unobstructed and effective. Without such support, it’s a bit like dragging through the mud – slow and ineffective.

What do we learn from this? Even when you’re moving slowly, as long as you’re moving forward you’re heading in the right direction. Have you made 8 calls to try and schedule a meeting with your MP, and feel like you’re getting nowhere? Perhaps it’ll take 9 calls, perhaps 29. But you won’t get anywhere if you stop. And the more we bring our media, parliamentarians, and communities along for the ride, the less obstacles we’ll have in our way.

5. Additionally, this is a super easy way to fundraise

Our team raised over $2500 for RESULTS, and we didn’t have to do much except register, set up our fundraising pages, and ask our friends to donate. Most of our friends were so impressed we’d do something so unusual (or perhaps they thought we wouldn’t live to tell the tale) they dug deep and gave generously. Anyone can fundraise for RESULTS by doing a fun run, walk, cycle, or even an 8km obstacle course through mud.

Feel like learning more about advocacy, meeting like-minded change-makers and having lots of fun (without getting muddy)? Then we would love for you to join us in Sydney 28 – 29 May at RESULTS 30th Anniversary National Conference.