Compassion architects activate and spread compassion

Oct 4, 2018

If you are reading this, there is a good chance you have dedicated your life and career to bettering the world around you – from the street you live on, to the community you live in, and even the policies that change the lives of Americans across the country. You strive to be the change-agent, in your professional and personal life, and are likely driven by compassion for a cause or purpose. Compassion is good, but it is important to identify how you can effectively yield that attribute to benefit the greater good. I try to keep this front of mind and encourage my teammates at The Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement to do the same.

We often limit our compassion to certain people within a cause, those who are like-minded, or our peers. In a world that is increasingly defined by “them” versus “us”, we are doing our compassionate nature a disservice. In order to effect change, we must shift from “I” or “Us” to “We”. Research suggests that to change the social architecture of an environment (e.g., the “I” versus “Us” mentality) is to act as a “compassion architect” or a person that can activate and spread compassion. This approach is integral to our Institute’s mission. We believe it’s not good enough to focus our work on doing good things (the output), but also how are we are improving the lives of the people we are working with (the input). One way we practice what we preach is by modeling these behaviors in our own office.

In our organization, we have the unique privilege of working with a large number of students. The students, full-time Drake University undergraduate students, are a not just “student staff” but an essential part of our team, part of the greater “we.” The compassion we have for our students matches the compassion we have for our mission. Better yet, the compassion we show for our students furthers our mission.

Our students are treated as equals, with the same responsibility as full-time team members. It is our goal to provide an environment where they can learn and understand how a professional office functions, including the actions of those working in the professional office. Showing kindness and respect motivates them to reach their full potential. By empowering our students to take control of their vision and direction, they continuously exceed our expectations.

Investing in others should not be quantified by the amount of time we spend with them, instead it is measured by the examples we set. We believe the lessons we impart will inspire the students to work as compassionate change-agents, now and in the future.

Our model should not and does not stop when we leave our office, a lesson we learned from Senator Harkin, a true “compassion architect.” Please take a moment today and reflect on how you can be a “compassion architect” in your workplace and community.

Related Issues & Ideas

White Paper

Strengths of Latinx Immigrants Despite Legal Violence

View Strengths of Latinx Immigrants Despite Legal Violence
Report

Champions for Change: A Collective Commitment to Children's Health

View Champions for Change: A Collective Commitment to Children's Health
Website

Iowa Coalition for Collective Change

View Iowa Coalition for Collective Change
Report

Cultivating Change: How the HealthConnect Fellowship lifted a network of advocates to improve children's health in central Iowa

View Cultivating Change: How the HealthConnect Fellowship lifted a network of advocates to improve children's health in central Iowa
Report

Addressing Patients' Social Needs: An Emerging Business Case for Provider Investment

View Addressing Patients' Social Needs: An Emerging Business Case for Provider Investment
Report

2020 One Economy: The Blueprint for Action

View 2020 One Economy: The Blueprint for Action
Policy Brief

Transforming Iowa's Foster Care System to Support Kinship Caregiving

View Transforming Iowa's Foster Care System to Support Kinship Caregiving

Cultivating the Soil for Culturally Responsive Health Care

How DMU is transforming the way health sciences education is delivered

View Story
View Story

Improving Health through Community Advocacy

How AMOS engaged hundreds of advocates to push for a children's mental health crisis response system

View Story
View Story

Latinx Project tells story of strength and opportunity

New report highlights central Iowa Latinos contributions and disparities and elevates Latinx leaders

View Story
View Story

Improving Health through Social Supports

MercyOne's community health worker model improves outcomes for families.

View Story
View Story

Champions for Change: A Collective Commitment to Children's Health

Outcomes from Mid-Iowa Health Foundation's HealthConnect Fellowship, October 2019-June 2021

View Story
View Story

How Youth Are Driving Community Efforts to End Homelessness

dsm Magazine features a unique collaboration that is engaging youth who’ve experienced homelessness in identifying new solutions to address this issue in central Iowa.

View Story
View Story

Meet the team leading UpLift – The Central Iowa Basic Income Pilot

View Post

HealthConnect Fellows: Engaging authentically in systems change

View Post

7 insights gained through a nonprofit merger

Foundation grants
Nov 17, 2022
View Post

Six Elements to Consider with Community Conversations

View Post

Community-Based Participatory Research: What to Know

View Post

How student research informed the basic income project

Action planning
Sep 20, 2022
View Post

How empathy is a part of systems-change work

View Post

Making the Case: Communications Tactics that Work

Advocacy
Jul 26, 2022
View Post

4 ways to measure system-change progress

System change
May 31, 2022
View Post

Health disparities for Black pregnant Iowans: What you should know

View Post

5 reasons why youth should lead systems-change work

View Post

What we mean by 'system change'

System change
Apr 6, 2022
View Post

4 insights from researching housing instability in central Iowa

View Post

Iowa youth aging out of foster care: How are they doing?

View Post

7 lessons learned from Sesame Street partnership

Foundation grants
Jan 31, 2022
View Post

A closer look at mental health in schools during the pandemic

Community response
Nov 29, 2021
View Post

Get to Know Dr. Nalo Johnson

Foundation news
Nov 24, 2021
View Post

4 questions for nonprofit and community leaders

View Post

5 questions for leaders in philanthropy

Funder practices
Nov 5, 2021
View Post

5 ways to think about your personal brand as a part of your work

Leadership
Nov 1, 2021
View Post