On March 21, I had the opportunity to interview Tara Clark. She is the powerful force behind the beautiful signs, shirts and hoodies that you have seen all over Seattle. Her campaign has resulted in $52,500 dollars donated in 2017 to organizations including KUOW, OneAmerica and International Rescue Committee as well as others. Here is an edited version of our conversation.
Tara, I am super excited to be with you today! I am launching a new course Prepare To Pivot that I will facilitate with career consultant Christina McCracken. We are excited to help people who are ready to make a change in their career or ready to start a new project. People who are heading a call to adventure and creativity. I reached out to you because you are such a beautiful and shining example of tuning into an idea just as it is just emerging, envisioning what is possible and then engaging to make it happen. I am hoping to hear about the Spread Love campaign that you launched in 2017. And specifically (if you are willing) to kind of dissect it a bit. I am interested to learn more about the process that you went through. Often we don’t get to hear about the internal experience of a pivot and all the essential details. As a psychologist, I am very interested in knowing more about the key resources that were necessary to achieve success. I read that your pivotal moment really started against the backdrop of the Trump election. You were sensing that something in your life needed to change. What needed to change?
I wanted to stand up for what I believe. I wanted to take a stand against the negativity and bombardment of hate. The messages that I was hearing and the sentiments being expressed weren’t in alignment with what I experience in my daily life and didn’t reflect what I know to be true about people. Once I recognized that I wanted a sign to state my beliefs that I could post on my front lawn, I started to investigate the cost involved. I realized it would be cost prohibitive for me to get one sign but to get 200 would be more affordable. This reality catapulted me into the Spread Love campaign, although the name for the campaign came about 4-6 weeks later when I realized that the signs were a gesture of spreading love. I have to be honest, the whole process was not well thought out and evolved organically! I knew that I needed to listen to my inner voice and not be afraid of the cost. That intuition carried me forward and gave me the energy and fuel to push it out into the world and sell those signs. I listened to my inner voice and trusted my experiences with past projects and just went for it. The Spread Love campaign expresses my conviction that we need to stand up for each other instead of listening to what is coming down at us.
So you had this strong intuition to express yourself. You were called to put some positive language out there and express your belief in people - all people - to contrast and balance all the negativity and divisiveness. That is beautiful. I am curious, had you seen a particular sign that made you think “I want to do that! I want to put my ideas on a sign!”?
Yes, I had seen on FB a white sign in the snow that had words on it that resonated with me. I hunted around and couldn’t find it. I didn’t start with a specific image but I went to an art store and was going to make a sign myself. While leading me to the materials that I would need, an employee at the store suggested an alternative idea that sounded better than me free-forming with paint and pens. He recommended that I look online, find what I like and then take it to Kinko’s to print. I went home and found another sign with fonts that I really liked. I reached out to the original designer, Kristin Joiner, who was living in Bermuda, to apprise her of my modifications and reflect to her how her design inspired me. I shared my vision for selling 200 signs and donating the proceeds to Seattle’s NPR affiliate, KUOW.
I like that. Often when we have these powerful intuitions that something needs to change it doesn’t mean we have to do it all ourselves! It also doesn’t mean that we are the only person who has had that idea! I love it that the campaign started with your intuition and quickly moved you into a space of collaboration.
Once I had the signs, I decided to get shirts made. Then I was talking with someone else and showed her what I had and she told me that that her husband, a professional graphic designer, didn’t like the graphics and they would never put the sign in their yard. And so I thought “Oh, No! I should change this.” I quickly realized that I had to quiet that inner voice that was saying “This isn’t perfect. This isn’t right. This won’t resonate with anyone.” At this point, I was not thinking beyond selling a few hundred signs and shirts. But I didn’t pay too much attention to the critical voice in my head. Instead I trusted my gut that there would be other people wanting to find a way to express their beliefs, too.
I am hearing you talk about the Naysayer. First we have an idea. Then we start to engage and put some intention behind the intuition to get the wheels turning. This is often the point when the Naysayer shows up! With any process of change, any pivot, there will be barriers that we have to overcome. The way that someone recognizes limitations, overcomes obstacles and engages with barriers is what separates those who are able to pivot and those who aren’t.
That internal dialogue can shut you down before you even get started. Sometimes the loudest Naysayer is within, so when other external Naysayers appear it can become a chorus of self-doubt! I struggle with that myself. This conflict between inner and outer obstacles never goes away. And it is important to remember that the Naysayer may be right! There may be some aspects of the information that we need to pay attention to and not just dismiss.
Yes, if you engage with the Naysayer it can make you resilient and more able to tackle hurdles in the future.
Often we take it as a total shutdown of our vision. But it is not a total shut down. It is something that you need to consider and learn from.
I agree! Now, let’s take a moment now to consider the support that you received. I am curious, who did you turn to for help?
I am not a great at asking for help. I am self-employed and used to doing a lot by myself. I will say that I got a lot of support from strangers. The first person was the printer. I was so excited to work with him because he was making my vision a reality. I started calling him Magic Mike because he just made things happen! I didn’t know him before and he is still an incredible source of support. There were other people that inserted themselves and shared their gifts and supported me and the Spread Love 2017 campaign. I will say that it has always been hard for me to ask for help. Now that I am a year in, I am getting better at taking people up on their offers to help. You do need at least one person that is encouraging you with a softer approach. You may want to rely on your partner for that support, but that can be difficult. I don’t know that they can be the primary support. They may worry and may not want you to fail. Someone outside can provide better support because they are not so intertwined.
This is why with PTP we have set up a group and also will provide two facilitators. We believe that you need multiple layers of support and an experience of a healthy dialogue. We often want to get support from family, but this often times is not the most effective strategy and you don’t get effective and clear feedback. In PTP, we offer some practical strategies and opportunities to practice new skills so that the pivot can be executed with grace.
Yes! When we connect great things happen. When we stand apart because of fear we can’t connect with one another. I want everyone to experience the power of connection and really see the beauty in one another. When we do this, we will all be uplifted.
Your work has been so inspiring! I am excited to get to know you better. With PTP we hope to encourage people to tune into their intuition as they prepare to pivot. Each of us can cultivate more intention and engagement in our communities and contribute to the overall paradigm shift.
I want to end by saying that you may not always know what your pivot will look like, when it will happen. I certainly wasn’t thinking about it in that way. I was just listening to my intuition. It is okay not to know when and how the pivot will happen, but you have to trust that inner voice that says “you can make a change.”
Wonderful! Thank you Tara for sharing these words of insight and encouragement. I look forward to following Tara's work in 2018!