Are you In… or Out?

Much chat on Twitter resonating from the recently posted People Management’s top 20 power tweeters  & responses including David Goddin’s Troublist blog, which has got me thinking….

Hmm… curious one this…There’s a whole in/ out thing that happens with people-on-lists and Top Tweeters etc. Perception can be that being the In-crowd (included, involved, in vogue) is a good thing vs Out Crowd (outside, outcast, out-of-date) as not-so good.

Me? I celebrate the out, on the whole. You can be outspoken, outstanding, outrageous, outright & cause an outcry.

And yet I know it is more complex. I (and therefore fuchsiablue) have an odd relationship with the in & the out.

As a Practitioner, I seek to be edgy, curious, to stand slightly apart from clients and organisations. My role is, in part, to see things differently, offer new perspectives, agitate, provoke and question…. that’s part of why my clients work with me. When I’m there – walking the edge –  I may not be liked, understood, accepted. I’m Out. I’m good with that. I kind of love it sometimes.

But then as a Person, I seek to be part of community, to belong, to be seen & heard well. I want to support, to encourage, to acknowledge the existing, to honour “what is” without constantly fighting the established. I want to build and nurture, not break and beat up. I’ll be honest, I like the notion of being “in” a crowd of folk I respect and enjoy. I’m a social animal, even with my anti-social tendencies.

I am both Person and Practioner. I seek to be both in and out. I’m contrary and co-operative…I understand there are consequences for both.

I’m interested now….how is it for you?

Showing up

A huge question on my mind already during this Masters process: Where are You?

I’m asking this of myself as I reflect on my first assignment – handed in all neat and on time, with a kind-of-cohesive argument about my views on organisations and change & some nifty referencing. I did as I was asked, reflected on my good bits & messy bits (a little) brought in theory like social constructionism and phenomenology (a little), played with metaphors (a little) talked about my work (a little).

In the assignment, I’ve been a “good” student and a “good” writer – making everything clear and clean and easy….reducing consulting life to a little. A little pinch of dissent, a little work on the relationship, a little contracting, a little event, a little confusion, a little unexpected outcome… the assignment makes my consulting practice look pretty easy – I did this and then such-and-such happened, so then I did this and noticed something of interest…. Tidy.

Yet what I’m presenting is fairly far removed from my actual experience of working with clients and organisations. I don’t experience my work as “a little” anything. I experience profound privilege when a coaching client recounts tales from deep within themselves; my skin goosebumps when I’m facilitating and the sheer magic of folk creating new ideas or battling old baggage unfolds in the room; I feel weary and scared sometimes when working with a client who seem to genuinely believe I have the map to the Holy Grail about my person. This stuff… well it really isn’t little.

Tonight I was listening to a colleague on the course who was giving me a lush and lovely smooth version of a Thing That Just Happened…. And there was something unsatisfying about the tale… all even and calm and neat… and I found myself saying “but where are YOU in this story?” I wanted to know how they felt, how they were, what their woes and their triumphs were. I wanted to hear where in the tale they were utterly, totally present and whether they had to work hard to stay there…..

Good, long and feisty conversation –can you beat it, I wonder?

After talking, I walked across the college grounds and started to see that the question I asked out, was the question I want to ask in…..

Where am I in all of this consulting malarkey, really?

Where do I show up? Where am I impactful? Where am I enough?

And the questions build and continue…..I do so love the questions… and the trick, for me, is to work to ensure I never stop loving the questions…and strive to turn up as fully as possible when trying to answer them.

And I want to know…. Genuinely know… from others out there….

Where are You showing up ?

The Girl in the Red Light District Window


Nieuwmarkt is warm. It’s 11 am and already the temperature here is creeping up beyond 22 degrees. The market has served us well. Coffee, fresh juice general buzziness,  and we wander, as tourists do, heading off the market to the cooler side streets. Laughing at the English boys in the café – beer & joints already started, shirts off, noisy, preening.

And to my left, in a window at street level, is a girl.

Dressed only in black underwear with pink edging, we are eye to eye. Almost. She is tiny. 5ft 2 perhaps. I tower over her.

What I notice is this: she is so young. Her belly is drum-taut and pierced with a pink stud which matches her underwear. Her long light brown hair spills over her shoulders. Her skin is brown-perhaps-fake-tanned. She is pretty, maybe even beautiful. She is so young…..

And I look away.  I hadn’t expected her. At 11 in the morning on a hot sunny day. I am… Shocked, horrified, curious, baffled, angry…. My mind goes straight to what she is there to do… the men to be touched and pleasured…the strangers who will have intimate access to her … the cold hard reality of money-for-sex.

The silver haired American couple wandering in the opposite direction see her too. The woman comments “I guess she got the early shift today”…. And it’s so banal….. so strangely normal but completely abnormal….. I’m unsteady for a second. Like the world has just backflipped on me.

I look again for a moment  and the Girl looks…what? Bored? Resigned?  Dead behind the eyes? Ready for business? What Is that look?

I wonder if I am a prude? Naïve? This lack-of-coolness with what is before me.. surely I just need to get with it…. But I am not alright with this. It leaves me cold and strangely scared…the world I live in does not allow for young girls in windows selling their precious selves to strangers…. And yet I’m face to face with that very reality. What the Hell is going on?

As I walk away, I want to talk to this girl.. Ask her how did she end up here? No…I don’t want to ask her how she ended up because that would mean this is the end…I want to ask how she has come to be here. In street window on a bright  Friday morning, opposite half naked English teenagers who are goading each other to have a go; looking out at elderly Americans and a curvy Scottish Woman who can’t quite meet her eye…

All day she flitted in and out of my mind.  I find myself wondering if she is a self-employed, gloriously empowered, strong, sassy woman who has chosen this as a means to some other end? Or is she pimped, trafficked passport taken, a powerless victim, voiceless and forced here? Is she educated? Cared for? Loved?  In Love?  What does she think of her body? What does she think of others’ bodies? Does she enjoy sex? Where does she live? What are her dreams?

And later, back at the hotel, I google Red Light District and mostly, sites talk about the sex trade & the history… but I can’t find the answers to the questions above…other than that, since 2000, the girls have to pay taxes…

36 hours on and I’ve made no more sense of it all…and we’re heading back to Nieuwmarket tonight  to a restaurant that has come highly recommended….How. Very. Odd.
Image courtesy of

There is No One Answer

replace fear

For 3 weeks I’ve been working up close and personal with an essay which asked me to articulate my assumptions about organisations and change. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the writing as I have dived into bits of my thinking and my working practice that I’ve previously kind of glossed over….. and in the end one of my conclusions was:

“…there is no one answer. For me, this allows me to be flexible because anything I try might work or equally not work. It’s hugely freeing.”

Freeing being the very opposite of how it felt to have “sudden” inspiration to write at 3 am on mornings when I needed to sleep… a lot…. My shoulders are creaking & cracking, my desk is smothered in papers & notes ( started the clear up operation this morning whilst listening to Zoe Rahman, Groove Armada and a smattering of old-school Prince) and my body feels under-exercises and over-caffeinated. Yet, somewhere deep within me, I’m kind of smiling.

There is no One Answer….

I’m not sure if that would be a satisfactory conclusion for everyone after 3 weeks & 5,000 words, but it’s the conclusion I came to and I’m kind of hanging out with it.

So far?… it’s good enough company to stay with me.

The answer about how I work with organisations and change can’t lie in wholly my brain – how I think and what I know is potentially interesting, but not necessarily significant. The answer won’t be wholly in my heart, either – though see previous blog post, I’m happy to speculate that change might well start there. Intuition serves me well and allows me to work from a non-verbal, energetic place that keeps me mostly out of trouble and allows me to ask deeper questions when I’m coaching or consulting – articulating a “felt sense” or an impression. Yes, my hunches offer me answers, but it’s pretty personal

Oh and then there’s the use-of-all sensory data to see, hear, smell, taste, touch what’s happening in the organisation…. And then of course senses are to be mistrusted, so that data needs to be questioned a bit…

And then…well the relationship part is essential. Building relationships. Listening well. Laughing. Delivering what has been promised. Being open.

Complex, messy, diverse, motion-filled life….. you gotta love it.

I’ve yet to find the School of No One Answer…. Let me know if it exists?

If not, I’m tempted to become the founder member. In the meantime, I’m intending to hang out with curiosity and confusion…