WIIFM or “what’s in it for me?” is a strategy for facilitators of change everywhere. It taps into that American culture of rugged individualism. It taps into individual motivation. I’m not saying that is a bad thing – it’s real and pragmatic and it works. Many podcasters, journalists, and bloggers are expressing a sense of optimism for the future after they witnessed individual compliance with world-wide pandemic measures. It has been pretty incredible to witness! Several of those same publications cautioned that the pandemic was simply a dress rehearsal for global climate change. If we can do what we have done for the pandemic then surely we could do the hard work necessary to combat the looming climate crisis.
And yet, I do not share their optimism about this behavior we are seeing and participating in. Because it is tied to WIFFM. It is tied to a “me” motivation not a “we” motivation. Our individual behavior has had to change in order to maintain our personal health and the health of those we love. And that is strong motivation to be sure. Now we are seeing the push back on the stringent quarantine measures when some people decided that their WIIFM was more important that the WIIFA or the “what’s in it for all?”
How do we make the journey from ME to WE? Who are our guides and where are our maps? As an American citizen and a person of faith, I have some maps available to me. Our Constitution is one map. As an American citizen I have rights and privileges granted to me. And those rights and privileges are granted to EVERY citizen. My rights are to be exercised in communion with my fellow citizens because it is TOGETHER that we create the nation.
This is advanced human interaction – that is what a democracy is. It’s an advanced way of governance. It, by its very nature, confers respect and responsibility to individuals to work together for the common good. This social construct breaks down when we try to take what was intended to serve the common good and subvert it to an exercise of individual preferences. Revisit our Constitution and enjoy the beautiful language of the Preamble. The Preamble creates a framework within which the Bill of Rights and subsequent Amendments are to work and live in concert with one another. Consider using it as a map to guide us from our small, me to the big WE.
The Bible, and for me, Jesus, provides another map. The teachings of Jesus, and many wisdom teachers, task us to serve one another. It’s stronger than that, right? We are tasked to LOVE one another. There is nothing “me-ish” about that. That is a big WE thing we are called to do. Me loving you makes a WE. And like most of the teachings of Jesus, they are easier said than done. Because that neighbor I am called to love may not look like me, sound like me, think like me, or value the same things I do. Hard work. Worthy work.
We as a society, as a nation, as the human race have some tough challenges ahead of us. We do have the capacity, the ingenuity, the grit and the determination to meet those challenges. And many of the biggest challenges will require big changes in how we conduct ourselves in the world. Expanding our sense of responsibility beyond our ME to the WE, valuing and respecting the WIIFA, being not simply compliant but committed to WIIFA is what it will take for us to move into a future that encompasses all.
We are in new territory. Do you or your organization need some guidance to find your way forward? Contact me and let’s talk about it.