Posted by: healingtheworkplace | July 1, 2010

Activists in the Workplace

Hello and Happy Canada Day to all you Canadians out there in cyberspace!

Recently my partner gave me a wonderful book to read. The book is called “Carry Tiger to Mountain: The Tao of Activism and Leadership” and it is written by Victoria author Stephen Legault.

This book is based on the teachings of the Tao te Ching or Tao, which by the way is the second most translated book in the world after the Bible.

Carry Tiger is also based on Stephen’s experience as an activist working with conservation groups. But the benefits of reading this book are not limited to people working with conservation groups.

The author wrote this book for people who are “trying to make the world a better place” and that includes those of us committed to healing our workplaces.

Leaders in all organizations will find Stephen’s reflections inspiring.

I’ve never considered myself an activist even though, as I age, I find that I’m speaking up more and more often. If you are like me then you might find the following quote reason to stop and reflect on your own beliefs.

“If you have something that you believe in enough to speak up for, to lend your voice and your passion to, then you are an activist.”

Standing up for what we believe in is difficult at the best of times. I know from personal experience how challenging it is to pick up a pen and write a letter to the editor or to volunteer time working for a cause I believe in.

Even so, in these instances, the stakes are probably not that high.

It gets even more challenging when we see a need to advocate for improvements in the places we work. Especially when our livelihood depends on the organizations that we want to stand up to.

One of my biggest regrets is not standing up to a boss who created a toxic workplace and bullied and harassed innocent people who “got in his way”. At the time I chose not to speak up. I wanted to keep my job, a job that paid well and that I had done for many years. In the end, keeping quiet made no difference. I was “let go”.

Perhaps if I had read Carry Tiger to Mountain during that period of time I would have acted differently.  I’ll never know.

Looking back I realize that I was burned out. The stress that I was under certainly had a detrimental effect on my health. 

Which brings me to my last point.

In order to be effective advocates or activists we need to look after ourselves. We must be strong if we are to stand up and challenge the status quo. In short, we need to have a balanced life, to eat nutritious foods, to exercise regularly  and to breathe!

More about this in my next post.

Cheers, Lesley



  1. Dear Lesley –

    I hope that things have worked out for you. You are so right that in order to look after others, and to help make the world a better place, you must first take care of yourself. Sometimes that means standing up for what you believe in, and doing it with love, compassion and patience.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the book. I’d love to hear how things have turned out for you.


  2. Dear Stephen, thanks for your comment. Things have turned out just fine. Of course losing my job was a huge change and it took me a few months to work through my grief, anger etc. so that I was able to move forward. I had a lot of support from family and friends which made a big difference. I’m now enjoying a very different life as a writer, consultant and educator. I’ll look forward to reading your next book. Cheers, Lesley

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