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Small Change for a Bigger Difference

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Ideas, Rules, Risks and Purpose

I wonder if you are at all like me. I have masses of child-like curiosity. I am fascinated by ideas. I love to make creative connections. I enjoy being positive. I also like to be practical, resourceful and ingenious. So, when in 1990 I became self-employed, I called my business “Creativity and Commitment at Work”. I imagined these qualities were a recipe for a better world. Now, I think they are ingredients.  “What recipes are game changers?”

The Rugby World Cup reminds me of William Webb Ellis, “who first took up the ball and ran with it”. I have seen the plaque at Rugby School which commemorates his part in changing the game of football. Whilst rules are typically changed incrementally, from time to time there is a seismic shift – a shock that alters the paradigm. When I reflect on my relationship with rules I notice both my independent spirit and my risk aversion: generally, with a few exceptions, I follow the rules. I also notice that I can get very upset about unfairness when other people ignore them. What’s to be done when what is seen as fair by one stakeholder may not be fair to another?

My upset is also about threats to safety when breaking the rules puts others in jeopardy. I have a great sense of adventure and think of myself as an explorer, of places as well as ideas. I am alert to risk yet have put myself in dangerous situations for the excitement of feeling fully alive. Trekking in the mountains feeds my spirit. I recall as a boy going with my class from school to the cinema to see the Pathe News of the Coronation of Queen Elisabeth, and being inspired by the accompanying account of the first successful climb to the summit of Everest. That inspiration has taken me to India, Nepal, Pakistan, Tanzania, Tierra del Fuego, and New Zealand.

Edmund Hillary devoted his life to providing schools and hospitals in the Khumbu region; he continued to do so after the deaths of his wife and daughter in an air crash at Lukla. Last week I listened to Doug Scott speaking about the 1975 Everest South West Face Expedition, and the work which Community Action Nepal (CAN) is doing to rebuild schools and clinics destroyed in the 2015 earthquake. CAN has led the way for responsible mountaineering, providing suitable clothing, equipment and remuneration for the Sherpas. When in the early days of Himalayan expeditions American climbers first appeared at the Tengboche Monastery, the Rinpoche listened carefully to what they proposed to do, then told them he saw no point in it. What’s the purpose of the game?

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