Chopsticks – #21daysofWriting – Day 21

Today’s topic is from my dearest and one of my oldest friends (not as in her age, as in our longevity together) Anne-Marie Garner. I love this woman beyond words. She is a powerhouse, generous to the core, smart, funny and cool. It’s an honour to be her friend. It is she who launched the beautiful Knot, Albert children’s book ( and website & merchandise – she worked HARD)  that inspired this challenge in the first place, so it is only fitting that the last blog in this series is hers.

What is WITH spa slippers?

Suzy looks at the snow-white things half attached to her feet. She shuffled here like a 80-year old Boca Ranton resident, slightly itchy towelling robe wrapped about her, hair scrumpled up in a scruffy bun. The slippers are, she reflects, only slightly whiter than her legs, and have no backs – elegant stepping ain’t happening here.

The other Hens have been squirrelled away by therapists. The waiting area is ambient, warm…  fancy magazines and a water cooler, the scent of every aromatherapy oil known to womankind heady in the dark air. Suzy scratches her bum cheek surreptitiously – her bikini is damp from the hot tub and steam room – it’s making her skin itch against the robe. She feels the nerves tugging and looks for distraction.

She has a nosey at the round lady and her daughter opposite. They are definitely mother-and-daughter. You can see how Round Lady looked in her 20’s. They too have “spa face” – facial oils seeping into pores, making their skin glassy and pink. Both are flipping through magazines, glass of cucumber water beside them.  Suzy likes the lady’s blue-grey toenail varnish colour.

A neat, black-haired, white-uniformed therapist, with what looks like chopsticks holding her hair up, arrives with a slip of paper. “Suzy?”

Suzy stands, her long figure unfolding and she tugs at the robe – tightening the belt, trying to make the weird garment longer.  She follows the therapist down a series of small, dimly lit corridors with low, melodic music and is aware, as ever, of her height and size. The therapist asks her some questions, Suzy answers politely, tummy knotting.

They arrive in in the room. The therapist invites Suzy to sit on the bed and introduces herself as Bethany, a slight Australian twang in her accent as she goes through the healthchecks and procedures. Full body massage today. What pressure does Suzy prefer? Any injuries or allergies?

All formalities done, Suzy is asked to “pop’ her clothes off – paper knickers available if she wants to wear those- and get under the blankets. Bethany leaves, chopstick-headed. Suzy is glad to get rid of the robe and her damp costume. She hangs it up so it might dry out more. As she fumbles with the paper pants, she is aware of her body. Her limbs, her torso, the weight and wobbles. She’s naked in a strange room. She tries not to dwell on that. She feels a welling nervousness, breathes. Gets face down under the covers.

Wrapped in warm blankets, alone in a room with some tribal shaman music playing, the air thickly scented, Suzy feels the opposite of relaxed. Stress. Claustrophobia. God she hates Spas. Faux-relaxation. You leave your brain at the door and are allocated timeslots. “Me time” on someone else’s timetable. Deep breaths Suze…..

Bethany knocks quietly and comes in. “Everything alright?” she asks, moving around the room, getting stuff ready. Suzy says yes… what else is there to say? She has her face in that weird hole thing on the massage table. Facing the floor. She feels very alone and a little teary.

Bethany holds a vial of something under Suzy’s nose.
“I’ve gone with aromatherapy oils that will soothe you – deep relaxation – just have a smell of these two and tell me which you prefer. Number one?” Suzy inhales deeply – oooh that’s good. “or Number two?” Who knows? Suzy thinks. And opts for the first.

Bethany begins with the legs. Suzy tightens at the initial touch, but then the warm oil kicks in and she allows herself to relax. Bethany checks the pressure is ok and Suzy find herself saying:

“I don’t really like massages” Christ! Where did that come from?

“Not everyone does. Are you alright though?” Bethany hasn’t stopped.

“I think so.”

“You are carrying a lot of tension – if you want me to stop at any point or if things aren’t ok, let me know?”

Suzy breathes. Settles. Her mind starts to drift after a while.

Chopsticks. She would be wearing bloody chopsticks. Who wears chopstick in their hair to work? Surely that’s not good health and safety?

They were cheap, the ones that triggered it all. Sitting in Wagamama’s with newly-snapped sticks, a black bowl of rice and veggies in front of her – it looked enormous. She was one of a group of teenage girls on a shopping trip, all fancy after the exams. She remembers sweating at the sheer size of the bowl of food. Eating single grains of rice with the chopsticks. Picking precisely and trying hard not to throw up. This was new. Previously she’d have eaten it and gone to the loo. One purge and everything sorted. Today she couldn’t even face the food. Her mate Maria noticed. Commented. Suzy tried to eat, mixing stuff around hoping it would disappear.

She remembers her black nail varnish matched the bowl, as she held the chopsticks with the paltry rice grain clamped.. and how well it covered up her nails underneath, yellowing from the stomach acid they so regularly came into contact with. Forcing that single grain toward her mouth…..

Bethany has moved to the other leg. Concentrate on that. Concentrate on that.
But the motion of hands, sweeping over skin, connecting with muscle and sinew, the rhythm of her body being pushed and pulled….

The panic attack, when it came was, frankly, mental. Wagamama’s became really muffled and hot, her vision got blurry-then-clear-then-blurry. She couldn’t breathe. Like something was sitting on her chest. Her head faint and her brain feeling like… it was on another planet – she could hear one part of herself really clearly, and another part was just white noise. Mouth opening and closing like a dying-fish. Wanting everyone to just fuck off and feeling black, deep, terrifying nothingness. Her friends freaking out….. there’s a whole part after that she has no recollection of. She knows there was an off-duty paramedic who helped. She flat refused an ambulance, seemingly nearly screaming the place down – when she got her breath back – and the manager took her, Maria and the paramedic off the restaurant floor, into a back room. Her mum arrived an hour or so later, apparently. The other girls waited in a coffee shop nearby.

What followed was months of “intervention”. Shame upon shame upon realisation. Her body, painfully underweight; hidden so well by clothes. Her face gaunt and yellow; hidden so well under a mountain of make-up. Her teeth ravaged by puke – she runs her tongue carefully over the £4k dental work her job eventually paid for. Therapy. CBT. Learning to cook. Some weird lesson where she had to “make friends” with a raw chicken breast. Her whole post GCSE life altered by chopsticks and rice grains.

Bethany has moved up to her back.

As the motion of the massage connects in to Suzy, she suddenly feels sadness – all that time wasted. A life on hold as she battled herself, her body. There are muscles in her back now and soft fat and tissue. She can feel the density of herself – her solidity, her suppleness. She can feel that she is here – not trying to vanish, not a ball of self-loathing and small, hateful nothingness.  The tears come from no-where and  surprise her. She feels them on her face and the realisation makes her sob.

Bethany says gently “Things are shifting. Do you want me to stop for now?”

Suzy shakes her head, trying to breathe, unable to speak

“You can talk, if you want to,” She says, kindly. She softens her touch. Her hands less-pummelling, more soothing.  As she continues to move, it’s like she’s coaxing something from Suzy…

“I was ill. Eating disorder. I was gripped for a long time.”

“And now?”  her hands sweep up the spine, over the heart-space in the back

“Now I’m not ill” She sobs again, deep, big, fat sobs. Oh God this is awkward.

Bethany keeps har hand firmly shifting, moving patiently. Not stopping until asked.

Suzy re-assesses where she is. Her head is jammed in the face cradle, crying. She realises she’s face-down on something like a padded toilet seat ….. the number of times she had her head down a bog and swore never again. It’s ridiculous. She wants to laugh, suddenly. She hiccups between a sob and a giggle… feeling the laughter rise, her sides contracting. She is properly laughing now, the massage bed moving. The tears from before are now different tears and she is aware that Bethany has also started to shake with mirth…

“Another shift?” Bethany says, her voice high with amusement.

“I think that’s enough.. I think I want to stop now” Suzy says.

Bethany gently smooths her back a couple of times and wraps the towel over her.

“I’ll stay for now, unless you want to be alone?”

“No. Stay.. but can I get up?”

“Slowly”

Suzy gets up and wraps herself in the blankets – she looks, shiny-eyed at the therapist, who looks back kindly, gently.

“It’s the chopsticks” she says – and begins to tell the story.

Reflection

So this one feels like I’m finishing on a “Well.. I started fairly safely 21 days ago– now I’m just going for it”. I’m so far off L&D and Leadership and Change & my work world, I need to re-orientate myself – this blog was only ever meant to be a work one. And that’s ok.. I’m just conscious of it all.

I started with Chopsticks as in musical chopsticks and messed around for ages with a piano recital scenario – but it was unfamiliar territory and I got tangled up.

In this, stuff about physicality and touch – how small things can evoke big stuff – I’m on territory I know and recognise… I can write from here. I see shifts in emotional states, catch those moments that become realisations,  when I coach. I’ve been the girl on the massage table, realising a physical shift can lead to emotional shift too. It makes perfect sense, if you think about it.

Tomorrow is Day 22 – and there it’s about What Next and What more.

For any and all of you who have read any/ all of the Challenge Blogs, I am eternally grateful – so many of you have commented, contacted me, cheered me on. It’s been quite extraordinary. Thank you. J x

Shifting

As she steps from one space into another, I am struck by how beautiful she is.
For a moment, I feel my throat catch and my breath shorten.
She is stepping into her future self.
It’s an oft-used coaching exercise – we hang out with the old, move into the here-and-now, step into the future.
We move physically, as well as mentally, verbally, emotionally.
We take our time.
At the start, she is hesitant – looking to me to reassure – is this right? Permissible? Am I saying the right thing? Thinking the right thing? Good Coachee?
Others react differently. They jump in and complete the task. They are sure. Unthinking. Certain. They tell me decisively How The World Is… Oh. OK then.
She is much more tentative, more hesitant.
We all start from different places, I guess.
But now? She’s up and running.
She is almost talking to herself…
And she moves.
Determinedly. Quietly. Furiously.
It’s a hell of a thing to behold.
She’s not some 6ft supermodel. She’s not high flyer have-it-all go getter. She’s not special. She’s not beautiful. She’s not quite right yet.
(She defines herself as what she is not – and she is sure about what she isn’t.
Very sure. Defendedly, properly, rudely sure.
I’ve been abruptly put in my place a few times for my questions…)
Me? I’m less sure. I’m deeply curious about the story she has set for herself – the excellent, binding narrative. The “I am/ I’m Not” story. It’s been written over years.
Carefully constructed and edited…the one that has brought her here.
Half-formed. Half permitted. Half certain (but very certain of the half)
As I watch her resolve to shift (maybe dissolve?) something, I am moved beyond measure.
Eventually, after a long time of silence, of talking to herself and to the middle-distance, she looks at me.
A little shy, a little embarrassed, a little defensive, perhaps – I’ve seen her unguarded.
I don’t say anything….
Then I realise I’m grinning and I might need to explain myself….
And we begin a different conversation.

Touch

In the moment of the goodbye, she hugs me….not a quick, rapid, throw-arms-round-as-I-buzz-on-to-next-thing hug, but a deeply present, warm I-see-you-we-are-connected-see-you-again hug…heart to heart stuff…. I literally and metaphysically find myself moved. I sink in for a second – yielding and accepting the feel of that message in my body, ready to be received, ready to give back connection, affection, love….there is a brief pause, where we’re just kind of together, and then she disentangles herself and goes… for a moment I am discombobulated, filled with good chemicals …at peace.
Then I sort of exhale and go about my day – a little heightened.
A small moment, a shifting one… how utterly delicious.

Not everyone likes to be touched.
Physically, psychologically, emotionally, sometimes socially, the phenomena of someone reaching us, connecting with us is a profound one.
It’s risky.
It can be thrilling
It can terrify.
Given, got.
Offered, accepted.
Withheld, denied.
It can’t be one-sided.
It’s a relational thing.
This stuff’s loaded.
Touch can be kind, enlivening, empowering.
It can be cruel, belittling, damaging.
It can be intrusive, a violation.
It can be instructive, a revelation.
We have, often for good reason, different boundaries and barriers around connection.
This stuff leaves you vulnerable.
It could do you over.
It could move you into different places and spaces,
It is not to be underestimated.

I’m interested in touch – what am I in-touch with? Out of touch with? What am I connecting to? Disconnect from?
I ask the same of clients… it helps to know this stuff.. or at least get a sense of it…

I have a client who hates to be touched – hugging literally makes them shudder – we’ve talked about it, each fascinated by the other’s ease of preference – I’m physical, a hugger, an arm toucher – the opposite would leave me more disconnect – I don’t understand what that preference must be like.
They spend their life being hugged and touched by folk like me, and it leaves them cold, irritated… compounded by the fact that society seems to value touch and hugs…. their boundaries constantly crossed inadvertently…Why do I need to bloody touch folk? Why can’t you let me be?
These are fair questions.

When I go and see Mum, deeply bitten by dementia, it is, at times, touch that connects us back, words won’t work here…. hands held, eye contact…a hand on a cheek… these are the gestures that garner a response.

In a novel I read recently, Karen Joy Fowler writes: “They are called feelings for a reason. It’s because you feel. Them.” Things touch us, they move us – we feel. Our physical experience of being in the world, so often overlooked, is such a vital part of who we are and how we are with others…how in-touch are we with this?

I’ll make the argument for opening up, taking the risk, being bigger, connecting more, putting yourself out there, being in-touch with yourself and with others… and I am one of the first who longs to lock-down, protect myself, hide away, out-of-reach.
I struggle with big crowds. I get overwhelmed in the Social Media maelstrom at times….lots of people professing connection… sometimes, the warmth I see and experience through virtual, social spaces, truly touches me…sometimes it feels hollow, vacuous….a scant touch, brief and care-less.

Which is why, when someone hugs me with such open heartedness, such generosity and love I’m bowled over for a second…and then I hug back….
Oh yes… this is what it feels like to be connected…. Wow.

The Truth About Collaboration

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So the truth is there is a way to work collaboratively, co creatively and constructively with others.
Even with people who have vastly different approaches/ preferences.
And the truth is this way can’t be defined in a top-10-tip list.
And collaboration needs worked at hard for the results to show.
And it’s the less-easy path, because self-interest, self-protection and self-centredness is pretty easy to access.
Including and involving others, trusting, sharing? Ah, now… that’s a lot more complicated.

When I want to work collaboratively, it is this:
I need enough clarity, purpose & articulation to make sense.
Know why I’m doing what I’m doing…and ensure folk know that.
State my case.
Why I think what I think & stand within that….
But not stubbornly. Not blindly or narrowly.
I have to be able to give, to yield, to be as wrong as I am right.
To be interested in others.
I have to not be a petulant child.

This is Relational Practice as I understand it.
It is stuff the oils & fuels change in organisations.
The stuff in between the process and procedure and formal mechanisms and rules.
It’s thinking with clients.
It’s working with ambiguity & knowing that not-knowing is transitory, but necessary.
It’s loving the questions.
It’s not fearing new solutions.
It’s not single handedly designing a 24 week organisational solution to be delivered like an Amazon Parcel.
It’s building in consultation, iteration & experimentation.

It’s sharing findings for bigger, more expansive outcomes, rather than tightly holding small fiefdoms.
It’s uncovering answers together… because somehow going slower makes us faster.
It’s pulling existing knowledge into being & building on together that so it’s better and stronger.
It’s getting over yourself to the space beyond you.

It’s encouraging technology for progress and positive outcomes
It’s about quiet time in the crazy.

It’s putting heart and soul in & knowing that cannot be quantified, but seeking the data to explain how it worked & articulate it as best we can & repeat if we can anyway

It’s about power.
The power we think we have.
The power we exert.
The power we deny we have.
The power we are clueless about.
It’s about how kindly or thoughtlessly we use that power.

It’s not dismissing anyone.
It’s not elevating anyone either.
Everyone is important, therefore no-one is
Everyone is different, therefore we are all the same.
It’s about respectful opposition
And about humour in tough circumstances.

It’s about sitting in tough & tender conversations.
If we prefer the tough, it’s facing into the tender.
If we prefer tender, it’s putting yourself in the tough stuff.
It’s about stretch.

And about dignity.
Not denying your femininity / masculinity. Knowing you have both.
I have the capacity to be assertive & strong & directive & agentic.
I have the capacity to yield, to be soft & open & commune.
I can be certain.
I can be afraid
And these are right, proper at times.

And at the heart, it is about love.
Love of self.
Love of others.
Love of the possible & the unknown.
Love of the impossible & the known.
Living with what these give & what they take.

It’s about a hundred stories of hopes crushed & fights fought and getting up and cracking on anyway.
It’s human spirit in all it’s heartbreaking, excruciating beauty.
It’s human nature that tests things of beauty to breaking point.
It’s the terrible things we do to each other to make ourselves feel better & the terrible things we do to ourselves at others’ behest.
We are so clever… we are so dumb…..

And when I look at all of this…. the richness and the depth and the complexity of it all….
I think it is unsurprising that we turn from work that is relational, social, emotional – We go for simple narratives and binary decisions.
and it leads us to a post-truth world, where rational data co-exists with “alternative facts” and “he-said/ She-said” is the basic narrative – a stuck one. An adversarial one.
Here, there is such certainty, it undermines certainty itself.

So how about we sack-off certainty and seek to collaborate, co-create and work through relationships with a little maturity and grace?
Hard work as it is.
Try it. Today. See what happens.

Rest

winter-tree

Rest:
rɛst/ verb
1. cease work or movement in order to relax, sleep, or recover strength.
2. be placed or supported so as to stay in a specified position.
“her elbow was resting on the arm of the sofa”
3. (In Music) an interval of silence of a specified duration.

When do you rest?
How do you rest?
Do you rest?
Ah.

I was saying how much I’m looking forward to the holidays – I’m a lover of this time of year, all things Solstice and the dead dark of the winter – and I began to notice how much I was craving rest. Proper, intentional, rest. 2016, for all it has been scolded for its disruptive, destructive madness, has been a year of more stability for me, personally. A new home. Proper holiday. A sense of family and community. New working partnerships. Interesting new clients and good work with existing ones… and still, I’m OK with it coming to a close.

I’ve had the privilege of working with an eclectic mix of cultures in 2016, from Ballet Companies, to a European Motor Company; from start-up Research outfit to Fire and Financial Services (separate services for the record, just in case that reads badly). I know how I work defies the received wisdom about having a “niche” or a “thing”… which get a little tricky at times as folk try to place me – and the eclectic thing means I cross-pollinate learning solutions and cultural conversations as I go and that means I’m constantly learning…and that means my breadth and depth of subject matter itches are both scratched……..and it means I have to have more conversations about “fit” than I might otherwise need to have if I had a schtick… which is kind of hard work at times… and these are my choices and I like them….

Nevertheless, I’ve been feeling that raggedy end-of-term sense – where the end is close, but there still seems to be a lot of homework and final projects complete – and in my head, I was kind of looking forward to collapsing in front of the telly, bubbles in hand, for some vintage movies and a lot of snoozing… and yet my heart was gently pointing out somehow this wasn’t quite going to cut it, still…

What I’ve realised is, I’m in need of rest. Not oblivion. Not sprawling, vacantly staring, at the TV, flicking endlessly for “Something Good”. Not giving up and lying in a Spa for 2 days, whilst real life patiently waits in the car park to be dealt with… Not locking the doors and switching off the phone, battening down the hatches and running scared from the neighbours.

I need proper rest – nurturing, nourishing, quiet; with a dose of hectic and lifestuff thrown in to add zest and joy. I need time to read a little, cook a lot, exercise a little, walk outdoors a lot, hold my loved ones, reflect on the year a little…

For many of us, the concept of “rest” is an altruistic one, a much-sought holy grail. There is something of the “tomorrow” about it –it will never come.

For me? It needs to be fought for. Rest in the sense I need it doesn’t mean dropping out and ignoring everyone and everything, only to find stuff still looms large later… it means some matters need to be attended to first, in order to carve out the rest space. For me, it means being able to rest within and alongside your life, learning where and how this is possible. It means allowing myself to be looked after (no easy feat for me) and relishing being allow to look after others. It might mean getting up before the rest of the house for a bit for some quiet time… it might mean sleeping in….

So the presents need buying and Christmas lights are up, the kitchen will have “store cupboard” stuff in so we don’t have to run to the supermarket every two minutes. The wine will be stocked. We know roughly who is where on what day… roughly… and space to Be is in there… and we just need to hold it… and that’s sometimes the tricky part.
The house will be cleaned, tidied and cleared, with as little mania as we can muster – clean and tidy enough to be welcoming, not so much that it’s threatening etc. There’s a bad Christmas Playlist forming (including the much beloved 12 Hawaiian Days of Christmas “ Five big fat pigs/four flower leis/ three dried squid/ two coconut & one minor bird in one papaya tree” – I defy you not to giggle) There are loose plans – new Star Wars Movie, a Theatre trip, kids coming and going, walking off the Christmas pudding etc. At points, everyone being together in the same place will feel like a chore, no doubt – and then the trick will be to carve space for everyone to be Elsewhere or Otherwise Occupied for a bit.

And at some point, having spent half an hour reading a book and then stomping up the hill with dog & humans in tow, knowing there is food ready on return and not really minding when we get back, I will feel that slightly melty feeling and know myself to be relaxing.

I think rest these days is hard-fought for. I know it is worth the fight.

To you and yours I wish you all the best for the Season & good rest, when the opportunity comes.

Organisational Structures & Leading through Relationships

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I’m thinking about structures. Organisational structures and restructures and the way we organise ourselves at work – how we plan, decide, action… you know, that configuration-y stuff. Partly, this has been sparked by recent work around matrix stuctures, and partly by reading this article on how to build a self-managed organisation.

Top down, hierarchy? Matrix working? Self-organised systems? Which is best?

It kind of strikes me that they all survive or fail through relationships..and how we get information to each other effectively (aka that illusive catch-all “communication”)

Mostly, I suspect, if a group of folk get together and are unable, unwilling or ill-equipped to have the types of discussions, the information sharing, the good will and trust that generates good outcomes and understanding… it sort of doesn’t matter how the hell you organise them.

I have some sympathy with top-down hierarchical structures, at times. There is an apparent simplicity and obviousness to the process- I tell: you do – which is tidy and neat. Only… it never really works that way. Not properly and consistently…but I still like the story on occasion – the illusion of control and orderly lines…..

Then I remember the start of my leadership journey, back when my top-down authority extended precisely to the lines in my team….on paper. Off paper, my team did what was needed, irrespective (at times) of my decisions. I’d have been annoyed, but often what they ended up doing was better than anything I was coming up with – that’s when I started to let go a bit, listening properly and asking them stuff… Potentially, I grew up a bit.

My reality? Of a role in HR, then L&D/ change? I never had one of those jobs that demanded instant respect… whatever they may be…. If I wanted my authority or opinion to matter beyond my direct reports, I needed to actively build my network, my credibility and my usefulness. Frustrating as this has been, at times, that reality has been.. well, kind of character building.

Now I work in a world where any “leadership” I take or show has to be negotiated through others. There is no top-down hierarchy here…and that comes with its own set of stuff. Credibility and respect have to be earned. Collective models for leading and decision making can be bloody time consuming – building relationships, developing the ability to gather views and hold everyone to a core intent; whilst acknowledging that, actually, at some point there will be a series of corridor conversations, email, DM’s etc that support or detract from that core intent… and working to do whatever is required to make the thing happen anyway, surfacing the gnarly bits where you can either through direct action or subtle means….

If you are in a self organising team, or working in a matrix structure, your capacity to lead and influence is awarded or denied by those around you – a constantly shifting morass of opinions and relationships.. no-one is in charge so everyone is in charge, but the authority to be in charge might well depend on your confidence and capacity to talk a good game….that can feel or stressful and actually a little thankless – where do you get recognition if you lead in this model? To “take the lead” or be awarded it through circumstance of expertise, or opinion or function necessitates  you are slightly “out there” – apart from others…. yet in a collective structure – you can’t be “out there”leading  and also “in here” with everyone… it’s paradoxical and not for the faint hearted. How do we help folk hold that paradox?

Being held up as leader, or actively taking the lead and being “out there” means a risk of being misunderstood or maligned – beyond your immediate team or the folk who really know what you are up to. Some times it’s worse…. Sometimes you are venerated and revered… pedestals are, I suspect, precarious. For me, this is the stuff we need to think about and design learning interventions for – how to work with uncertainty and hold your authority in a unstable operating environment.

So what am I saying? for me, however we structure ourselves to plan, organise or act, it always comes down to the core stuff –, the need to build relationships– to develop and maintain our abilities to listen, to articulate our viewpoint (kindly, if possible), to work to remain open-minded. It’s about striving to develop our maturity, our capacity to work with uncertainty and our commitment to have positive intent to those around us.

This is not about structure, or technology or revolution or disruption.

This is about committing to developing the core skills we already have to relate and committing to designing Learning Interventions in our organisations that deeply support that for the long term.

Organizational Charts drawing by Manu Cornet, http://www.bonkersworld.net

Working in Less Obvious Ways.

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I’m over it.

To be honest, I’ve been over it for days – the news, the TV, watching the politics and the games and the claims and the counter claims. The inauthenticity of pre-prepped speechifying. Entire massive hulking gnarly issues conveniently disappeared. The egos. The stubbornness and blindness. The platitudes and clichés. The energy it takes to sense-make in the midst of all of this.

My deep need to hold to a change narrative that involves kindness, inclusiveness, tolerance, creativity and collaboration….My lived experience that true lasting change doesn’t happen without some of these things. How very sorely tested that belief feels right now – like I’m a dreamer, an altruist, a hypothetical tree hugging cloud-starer who doesn’t understand real power and politics.
Only I do…. I just don’t have the appetite to play that game. That mean, selfish, self-serving game.. which at the same time seems necessary…. And if I’m not in the game, how can I ever affect it?

It’s a puzzle.

What I’d say to my clients is: step back. Look after yourself for a while. Stop engaging with the poison around you, it will soak into your being. Go find some anti-venom. Find connection. Love. Kindness. Stuff that sustains you. Find purpose. Get folk round you who you trust and enjoy. Get stronger. Refocus. Return with renewed, different vigor. Work from there.
There is more power and courage in walking a different path, than re-treading the old ones. If you feel that stepping away is woose-ing-out, take heart..it’s only that way if you stay gone – the world needs you here. Stepping away might be just what you need… but come back. Gentler, stonger, heartfilled, joyeous, detoxed.

Physician, heal thyself.

So I’m taking my own advice for a bit. Turning off the telly. Listing to music which lifts or soothes. Seeking out those who nurture and refresh me. Walking the dog. Having silence around me. Cooking good food. Attempting to run a little faster. Putting time in on my travels to see the world through less-tainted eyes.

In a conversation recently, there was an element of: lucky you. That you can do that. In your job. You can just potter about & mull on stuff.
Nope. That’s not how this works. Running a business is rarely a part-time thing, if you want to make an actual living out of it. I’m carving that time. Intentionally. Trying to hold some regard for myself and others around me.
This is the work – my work – in all of the madness.
To look after myself and those around me.
My reach isn’t National.
I hold no power to put money in your pocket
This work could so easily be written off as unimportant….
But it’s not. It’s more vital now, to counter hate-filled, venomous, broken-ly furious narratives that take us down paths of division and separation.

I’m here and I’m part of this…. So I’m working to do the best I can… in less obvious ways, perhaps, but I believe they have power.

image courtesy of Brutallyhonest.org