Over the past 12 months my work has been focused on sowing the seeds of Truly Human Leadership, serving leaders and organisations to consider an alternative mindset, culture and leadership enabling business to be a force for good in the world with a focus on purpose, people and performance. This has been through facilitating larger groups to individual coaching.
It’s been an exhausting and thrilling year in equal measure. I have learned a lot, deepened my skills and experience, met some incredible individuals and developed some lasting relationships.
I was content. Happy believing I was living my life on purpose. Grateful for my family, friends and the privilege of doing what I do. Listening to others in a way that generates their best thinking so they can become who they were meant to be right now, right here, both at work and at home.
And very recently I have been invited to think about all of this. More deeply. More courageously. More boldly. In ways I had not imagined.
Firstly from our eldest daughter who last month turned 17. This summer she arranged and raised funds to volunteer at a school in Cambodia for two weeks; the first time she had travelled alone and to a developing country. I was a little anxious, based on my own experience. I wanted her to be safe. Equally I wanted for her to benefit from this rich cultural experience. This was the beginning of a new chapter. A chapter where she would live more independently. She had a great time and the trip helped to set her up for her move to study away from home for her 6th form this term. It was a transition for us all. I had to get to used the idea she would no longer be at home other than exeat weekends and holidays. It has taken some time. I missed her. And now, in the knowledge she is settling in, made some friends and getting into the groove of A levels, I am reassured she is happy.
As our daughter grows in her independence, perhaps I matter less. As parents, we set out the values we wanted for our daughters, for our family, when they were born. To love and be loved, to have a sense of family and respect for where we have come from and to have a sense of adventure. These have served us well throughout. Not always easy and yet helped us to make decisions. With this as her foundation, my hope is that she will feel confident in herself, make good decisions and live a life that is respectful and honouring of fellow human beings. We will always be here for her and will celebrate her continued growth and development as she navigates her journey in this world.
And so as I reflect, did I matter? I see my role as a parent (and am hugely grateful for this role) to create an environment to nurture our children’s gifts and talents, to encourage them to think for themselves as themselves and to be a force for good in the world in whatever they may go on to do. I hope in some small way we have and continue to create this for our daughters. My hope is that they have done it themselves. The paradox being that I do not matter at all, and yet my intention to be present, give them my attention, to listen free from interruption and judgement and let them know they matter is that I mattered profoundly.
However I fear that this is not necessarily a reflection of what they will encounter in their chosen place of work.
At times, through my work I meet others who do not feel valued. Rather they feel stifled by an intoxicating, unchangeable mindset and a resistance to listening truly listening to others. I don’t believe this is intentional, rather a society which has developed behaviours of immediate gratification, financial greed, results at any cost to the human being and sophisticated victims of dependence on others more senior, those who pay them and those with more experience. In my work as a coach, I seek to create the environment for others to think for themselves, to discover more of who they are so they can bring their full self, their gifts and talents to what they are doing. In this way there is also the paradox that I am almost invisible as they think for themselves, and yet my presence and attention is palpable and visible. My clients resolve their issues, fulfil their opportunities and live more fully as a result. I don’t matter because they do the work and yet I matter profoundly because of my attention and catalytic questions, if and when they need them.
And so secondly I have been invited to think more courageously about my purpose. My purpose in the work I do. I have been asked, what changes do I want to see in the world? What insights, skills and talents can I share with the world to help make these changes? What is my bigger purpose in communion with others? I am still reflecting on these questions as they deserve careful thought. These questions are a gift which I treasure. I will discover the answers in time.
What I know for sure is that I do see change. A change for the good of others, for human beings in our increasingly technology enabled world. Like any change, it takes time. Only last week I had the pleasure of meeting Helen Pankhurst, great granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst (pioneer of the suffragettes). I admire and am grateful for the immense effort, hard work and courage both Helen and her family have given to enable women today not only the right to vote and also the opportunities to make a difference in our work.
What I know for sure is that we still have a long way to go to treat others with the respect and dignity they deserve. This past week I have watched with a heavy heart the shenanigans of the Senate Committee. The somewhat, partisan, unmeasured behaviours one one side of the room and the thoughtful, eloquent and fair behaviours of the other. I am thankful for the difference women bring to such complex situations.
I realise that together we can make a difference. I am grateful to my colleagues, friends, and others I have met whom we engage in regular conversation about how to generate cultures where everybody matters.
My hope as that we can develop a more caring society. One that welcomes and celebrates the differences in each other. One that respects and dignfies human beings for who they are. One that listens to the voice of others, free from interruption and judgement. One that generates independent thinking in others so they can be who they were meant to be, rather than who others want them to be.
I will continue my journey, in collaboration with you and others in the hope we may make a small dent in accomplishing our dreams. I ask you in your position of influence and power that you use your gifts and talents wisely to create a positive impact in the world. Live boldly. Live courageously. Live respectfully. Because YOU MATTER.
Thank you for reading!