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Small Change for a Bigger Difference

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My earliest sense of purpose derived from the care and guidance of my grandfather. His two sons had died in childhood before my mother was born. When my grandmother died and he retired from work and came to live with us, I was fortunate to learn from him about nature and the countryside, and to acquire a love of growing things. This developed for me into a clear mission to contribute to solving world food problems. By the time I left school I had my career plans mapped out; a relevant degree, voluntary service, postgraduate studies, then a job with the UN or the UK Government’s overseas development agency. This was not to be. In the words of John Lennon, “Life is what happens to us whilst we are making other plans.” Over and over again. How do we respond to our own (and others’) unexpected change: redundancy, illness, injury, homelessness, bereavement?

Motivation, Responsibility, Wakefulness and Resilience

During these challenges of change I have found myself coping by putting aspirations on hold: focusing only on getting through the day, the week, the month. In times of greatest doubt and uncertainty I have been helped by mentors: individuals who have recognised something in me that matters and provoked me to choose to show up and change my game. How can we best stretch ourselves, and sponsor others?

My interests in positive psychology and motivation may reflect what I have most needed to learn in order to help myself. When I have returned from an adventure I like to maintain my vital feeling of aliveness by sharing the story – to make sense of it and to feel acknowledged. I believe that individuals have uniquely different reasons to care; their best contribution is delivered when they are following their intrinsic motivation. This has profound implications for leadership, management and supervision, and how we offer and request help. How do I really listen to you and respect and acknowledge who you are?

In my work I have retained my interest in creativity and commitment, and added a desire to assist in managing transitions, developing leaders and providing coaching. I have invested in collaborating with colleagues who value learning and co-creation. In Alchemy of Coaching we hold that context is important, plus awareness of self and others, knowledge and skills, and, crucially, integration of these in the relationship. How do we connect with ourselves and each other and express holistically what we know and who we are?

In my mind as I write this are concerns about troubles in the world – conflict, war, suffering, injustice, and feelings of sadness for people close to me and for those I have not met. I question my response to the challenges around me: am I doing enough? I can concentrate on enjoying my comfortable life and turn away from problems, or decide what feasible contribution to make to others. What is my responsibility, and my response-ability?

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