Monday, 28 March 2011

What's education got to do with it?

If you ever get a chance to do a workshop with Caroline Myss then grab it with both hands.  She is one of those people who say it how they see it which is quite refreshing in spirituality circles where one can be smothered by too much niceness.  Her mind is razor sharp and she does not suffer fools gladly.  It has given me plenty to think about.  I want to share one of those jewels with you.

Caroline is someone who is very fond of History which means she is able to show the links between events and how History repeats herself.  I was struck by her observation about Plato, an old favourite of mine when at University, which was on education.  What was recognised back in Greek times was that the key to a good education was to educate the imagination first.  Think about that.  Where does your mind go when you are relaxing.  Does it dream about wonderful futures or does it create Bosch-like nightmares about what might happen?  We can harness our fears by developing our imaginations.

If that sounds too fantastical then take a look at Sir Ken Robinson's TED talk in which he argues that education kills our creativity.  He shows how the focus on literacy and numeracy in the education system is equivalent to working on children from the neck up.  We educate them out of creativity when what we need to be doing is educating the whole person.  That means placing much more emphasis on movement and dance.  The picture he paints shows why children of four or five go into the education system full of curiosity and often as not come out the other end frustrated and bored.

All these reasons point to why so few people today feel fulfilled and why so few are unable to think outside of the current Newtonian paradigm that for the moment continues to hold sway.  If you are a parent and any of this resonates with you, what can you do to ensure that your children develop a rich and vivid imagination, a tool that we need to solve the challenges that we have created on earth?

Monday, 21 March 2011

We are all meant to shine, as children do.

I feel incredibly grateful that I have two wonderful girls.  They say amazing things and are funny without meaning to be and best of all they have the ability to keep on loving me however I show up.  The reason I have started this post with those sentiments is because it reminds me of a phrase from the famous passage in Marianne William's book A return to love in which she states "We are all meant to shine, as children do."  My girls are a living example frequently of what we are called to be.

Tonight I was privileged enough to hear Marianne Williamson speak live at St James Piccadilly.  She was forthright in her views saying that the time of data collection on the validity of spiritual perspectives is over.  Rather it is about having faith that the true currency in today's world is love not money.  Far too often we are still ruled by fear and give power to the material world and its focus on economics.

Marianne's challenge is that spiritual people do not have the same degree of commitment to their ideals as terrorists do to their world views.  She urges the sleeper cells full of light workers to wake up.

In many respects there was nothing new in her talk.  Many of us are aware of the universal spiritual laws.  For her the key to unlocking greater understanding came with the knowledge that learning came through the relationships and/ or situations that she found herself in.  There was no sudden unveiling of her ultimate purpose.

It was powerful and inspiring stuff and has given me plenty to reflect on. In my own life, I have found the more that I articulate my own ideas, the more often I find common ground with others. That is even true of the most recalcitrant and cynical. How about you?  Does any of this resonate with you?  If so how are you making it more of a reality in your life?

Monday, 14 March 2011

Events in Japan: a tragedy or an opportunity?

The news has been saturated with commentary on the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  Over 70 countries have responded to the request for help; the Japanese premier has mobilised 100,000 from their armed forces to support the north east; and today there was further concern as six months of radiation was released into the atmosphere in one hour due to the destabilisation of one of Japan's nuclear reactors.  However we look at it, it is a natural disaster of epic proportions.  I want to share with you two  perspectives on this disaster.

The first is an article that I read in today's Evening Standard which suggests that we have become immunised to the horror through watching disaster films so treat it like entertainment when actually we should be giving to one of the many funds set up to aid those affected by the recent disaster.  How does that fit with your take on events?

The second is more challenging and is one that I heard voiced at an event on Friday.  The individual's view was that the people caught up in this nightmare had chosen to be there a long time ago - part of their sacred contract before entering this world - and therefore it is important to see the disaster as leading to opportunities to a new way of being.

When I first heard that, I took a double take but then I reflected.  For some time now I have been having a dream in which the world is burning up on the one hand; and is being destroyed by a tsunami on the other.  What has happened in Japan is not new.  Look at what happened in Christchurch, New Zealand recently and if we go a little further back Queensland, Australia.

These are signs that nature is more powerful than anything we humans create.  It offers credence to the view that the impact we are having on the earth is fastening climate change and all that could entail.  From this perspective, it is a wake up call.  We need to sit up and take notice and really look at our relationship with the earth.  Part of the answer is about becoming stewards of this planet and its resources.  What's your perspective on the events that have been unfolding over the past three days?

Photograph provided thanks to this site

Monday, 7 March 2011

Monday's Musings: traits of the leaders of tomorrow

I wanted to share thoughts from A New Kind of Leadership (ANKLe) conference on the future leadership trends in the current generation of young people.  At a conference on Friday the main speaker, Barbara Harvey, shared her insights into Generation Y (those aged between 10 and 30) and the impact the main traits of this generation will have on the workplace.  Below are some of the key insights.

1. It is a generation that has grown up using IT technology from an early age which means that for the most part Gen. Ys prefer to make new connections online rather than face to face.  An example of this is that when they are getting ready to go up to University, they make contact with other freshers via facebook as a way of working out who they will go to dinner with on their first night!  This is borne out by the results of a recent meeting between ANKLers and Progressive Women.  Progressive Women found the techniques that we shared with them on how to build rapport quickly in face to face meetings really helpful.

2. Gen Ys appear to be keen to collaborate and in organisations this manifests itself as a need to be consulted about the strategy of the department/ organisation even if they are not part of the decision-making process.  It is a way to keep them engaged which is vital because they tend to be become disillusioned with organisations much more quickly than previous generations and have little loyalty.

3.  Interestingly because the education system Gen Ys have gone through has involved huge amounts of assessment from an early age, there is a tendency towards needing and wanting regular feedback.  This is everything from the boss checking in with them every morning through to regular comments on their performance.  It is fascinating to note that some companies have started to do a daily pulse to respond to this need, asking staff to indicate what kind of day they have had using smiley faces and following up personally with those who have not had a great day.  It is a great way to keep engagement high but the implications in terms of the bigger picture are that companies are going to have to revisit their annual performance systems and change them to reflect the way these people operate.

4.  Also this is a generation that has for the most part accomplished multi-tasking.  For example they are likely to have facebook open so that they can send instant messages to their friends whilst they are working and are listening to music at the same time.  This means conducting conference calls as part of work is an opportunity to do many other activities at the same time.  It also means that organisations are going to have to re-evaluation their protocols around the use of the internet if they want to keep these people.

5. Another key feature, in part due to technological advances, is the blurring between work and play.  Gen Ys are much more likely to be working on a Saturday morning or a Friday night if they are really engaged.  It makes one wonder about the impact on the divide between the personal and the professional.

6.  Finally they tend to be very values driven.  They want to see that the organisations they work for are actually making a difference in the world by having schemes that improve literacy and numeracy amongst the poorest in society for example. Unlike Generation X they do not just conform to the rules and buy into the idea that if they do that they will be successful and gain status.  That is meaningless which enables them greater freedom to be creative.

In conclusion the future looks exciting.  Everything seems to indicate that this generation has the potential to work together creatively to solve the ever increasingly complex problems that the world faces.  Of course it could become the ultimate me generation but I am hopefully that it will be a force to be reckoned with and like many of the delegates on the day, I found the findings that the speaker shared with us very refreshing.  I would love to hear your thoughts.