2.06: Labels: How The Language, Theory, And Models Of The Labels We Use Can Either Restrict Or Give Freedom

In episode six of season two, Tim and Tuesday talk about how adopting or shedding labels — political, economic, ideological, identity — can give us access to change, but can also become limiting in terms of how we might want to grow. How can we become less attached and more open?


Together, Tim Merry and Tuesday Ryan-Hart are THE OUTSIDE—systems change and equity facilitators who bring the fresh air necessary to organize movements, organizations, and collaborators forward for progress, surfacing new mindsets for greater participation and shared impact.

2.06 —— SHOW NOTES

  • Tues: In an Otto Scharmer “Prescencing Workshop,” I had an experience in which I heard, “who you are will inform you, but it will not be who you will become.” This helped me to shed the label of survivor. Personal liberation for me is the freedom to be all of who you are, the freedom to have the life you want, or to try and create the life you want.
  • Tim: I think about some of the labels we use in our systems change work – the incredible epiphany that happens, so often, when we use introduce the idea of “hospicing.” There is a role in change work that helps things die with dignity (beliefs, policy, etc). It is an essential ingredient that needs great care to give us time to build the alternative. At what point do the models we introduce become limiting?
  • Tues: I wonder if it’s stages or more like the chaordic path – maybe it’s an undulation back and forth? Maybe we’ll always be looking for the next group, label or name? When we speak from the place of a ‘label’ we can only give a very narrow perspective. When we are speaking from an expanded version of ourselves, that takes into consideration multiple labels, we can give much better input into a process and maybe even feel much more ownership of a process.
  • Tim: I feel like we do a lot of specific design around people’s personal journey – designing to help people step into labels – to accept and then to let go. I also feel like we are doing that organizationally – to build the analysis and then to let go.


Poem: “Vitai Lampada” Henry Newbolt

NOTE from Tim: This poem was really strong in my school. It was one of the labels you had to live with. It was part of the label indoctrinated into us through the education system that I was a part of.


Vitai Lampada

There’s a breathless hush in the Close to-night –

Ten to make and the match to win –

A bumping pitch and a blinding light,

An hour to play and the last man in.

And it’s not for the sake of a ribboned coat,

Or the selfish hope of a season’s fame,

But his Captain’s hand on his shoulder smote

“Play up! play up! and play the game!”

The sand of the desert is sodden red, –

Red with the wreck of a square that broke; –

The Gatling’s jammed and the colonel dead,

And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.

The river of death has brimmed his banks,

And England’s far, and Honour a name,

But the voice of schoolboy rallies the ranks,

“Play up! play up! and play the game!”

This is the word that year by year

While in her place the School is set

Every one of her sons must hear,

And none that hears it dare forget.

This they all with a joyful mind

Bear through life like a torch in flame,

And falling fling to the host behind –

“Play up! play up! and play the game!”


Song: “Free” by Prince


Subscribe to the podcast now—in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or anywhere else you find podcasts. New episodes will be available every second Tuesday. If you’d like to get in touch with us about something you heard on the show, reach us at podcast@findtheoutside.com.


Find the song we played in today’s show—and every song we’ve played in previous shows—on the playlist. Just search ‘Find the Outside’ on Spotify.


Duration: 38:12

Produced by: Mark Coffin @ Sound Good Studios

Theme music: Gary Blakemore

Episode cover image: source

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