PATH™ to Exceptional Activism Case Studies

Khairil Zhafri, Project Officer, Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights (MCCHR), Kuala Lumpur, 21 Nov 2015

I had attended a civil society group meeting as an observer and after they were done with their main agenda, and it was getting late, they started bitching about the National Security Council Bill. As an observer, I started to notice the structure of their experience and realised they were in Problem mode.

Usually, I would also pile on the shit when others start complaining. But after attending PATH to Exceptional Activism, and learning the PRO Model and Clean Language, I did something else instead. I asked them: “What do you want to have happen? What can you do?” The conversation then moved to what they could do like getting more organised and engaging lawmakers across partisan lines to drop the Bill.

The benefit of what I did was that I now know what actions this group was planning and I could connect them with others who were like-minded so that community action can happen. The other benefit was that the group was able to wrap up their discussion and go home.


Seira Sacha Abu Bakar, lawyer and human rights activist, 12 Dec 2015

I sit on the board of governance in a human rights organisation in Malaysia. The executive director (ED) of the organisation has to revert to the board before making some decisions. Currently four out of the six board members are new. And so, the group dynamics isn’t there yet.

Recently, the ED sent out an e-mail that required the board’s decision. I was really busy with my court cases. Usually, when I am that busy, I will just ignore the e-mail. But after attending the PATH to Exceptional Activism programme, I put myself into the ED’s position and I could feel what it’s like to depend on other people for a decision to be made. At the same time, I knew that my Outcome was for the organisation to reach a collective decision on that issue. I also held several Attitudes while dealing with the situation. One, the meaning of my communication is the response that I get. Two, I cannot not communicate. And three, I have all the resources I need.

As a result of all this, I decided I would attend to the ED’s request within a specific time frame. I put aside all my other work, and for half an hour, let the ED know my decision while giving my reasons. After I did that, the other board members also responded with their justifications. And the ED was able to make a decision on the matter.

The benefit of my behavior was that we had a decision and the ED could move forward. And the other board members began to communicate with each other.


Lim Ka Ea, Project Manager, Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights (MCCHR), Kuala Lumpur, 21 Nov 2015

I attended a meeting with another civil society organisation (CSO) to see if they would collaborate with us on our internet security project. Normally, I would go into a meeting like this with the thinking that we know what’s best and our project is the best and that they should support it. Why wouldn’t they? However, because of the PATH to Exceptional Activism programme, I went into the meeting with another attitude. Who says we are the experts? Because of learning Clean Setup, I also wanted to find out what kind of support or resources they needed, instead of expecting that they should support our project. What happened was that the other CSO was not as defensive and unhelpful as they have been before. And we found out more about the project they were working on. And two people from that CSO then volunteered to work on our project!


Wan Shazrina, MCCHR lobbying group member, 12 Dec 2015

My situation was I needed to get recommendation letters from my former lecturers to apply for a course I want to do. Even though they said they would be happy to provide me the letters, there was nothing as the deadline got closer. I told myself I should not bother them again, and I could just forget about the course.

Then I thought of the skills I had learned in the PATH programme by Anne Munro-Kua Transformations and this is what I did instead. I stepped into my former lecturers’ shoes and realised, “Oh, maybe they’ve been busy.” Then I stepped into the shoes of an observer and realised, “If I was a neutral observer and I saw myself reminding my lecturers about the letters, I wouldn’t think that my doing so was a form of harassment. It would be acceptable for me to remind my lecturers.”

I also realised I was in Problem state and I coached myself with, “What would I like to have happen?” to move into Outcome. My outcome was to be able to register for the course. Then I asked myself a Clean Question, “What needs to happen for that to happen?” Then it became clear that I needed to keep asking for those recommendation letters. And I decided to hold the Attitude that, “There is no such thing as failure, only feedback.” And so, even if my lecturers did not eventually revert, at least I would know I tried my best.

The other thing was, I became aware that I was playing the Victim in a Drama Triangle. And I realised a part of me was saying, “Oh, they didn’t reply to me. I can’t do anything about it.” And if I was the victim, then I could sabotage myself by saying, I don’t have to apply for the course.

As a result of all this, I was able to keep asking my lecturers about the letters they had promised me. I’m having lunch with my former supervisor on Monday, to collect the letter.

Previously, I would just have been stuck in Problem, and used that as an excuse not to move on.

The benefit of having applied PATH skills is that I am much clearer of my goals. I’m not stuck in a rut. And I think positively: “It’s OK to know what you want and to go for it.”