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Sarah Pickthall

Sarah Pickthall

Director, Cusp inc

So you may well be thinking, why Sync? It doesn’t stand for anything in particular but it is infused by the concept of syncopation, defined as the emphasis on a normally un-emphasised beat. So as Sync develops its dialogue about leadership and our access, as disabled people to leadership opportunities, we are particularly interested in what we emphasise and why. Sync is a process that is informed by coaching principles.

Coaching is for the Sync Coaching Team about many things – the ‘art of the killer’ question being one. The question that unravels, that brings about that ‘ah ha!’ moment that exposes with clarity, what is stopping us and why. The idea being that if we explore the way we question ourselves and each other about our identity, our path and what we have achieved as well as what we have missed, we will then more able to see more clearly what is going on: what is the responsibility of others around the barriers that are put up to our involvement and inclusion in our career development and what we, ourselves must note about our own set of individual behaviours and responses.

A revelatory event staged by Dali (Disability Action Learning Initiative) at ROH 31st January 2008 provided the rarest and richest of opportunities for the disabled people gathered to talk together about leadership and to question. What consistently emerged throughout the day was that our relationship with leadership is ultimately informed by our relationship with self: our particular and shared experiences.

One emphasis that came through from a speaker from the sofa was the idea of ambition and the ‘natural need to express myself and get on’. The same speaker talked about how this ambition was peppered and ignited by other people’s ambition at a particular time in her life when she was able to observe and be inspired by other disabled people within the same organisation, around her. (Maria Oshodi – Artistic Director Extant) Ambition has a particular feel to it. Another speaker from the sofa talked about her desire to see disabled people with commissioning power, and how this will only come about when this sits in relationship to ‘hungry disabled people at the bottom, who are willing to fight’. (Alison Walsh – C4) Ambition is all about hunger, so how do we feast on leadership when sometimes, we don’t really know what’s on the menu and if we do and we choose something, or someone recommends something, we don’t know how to eat it without people staring at the way we are eating?

There was an additional acknowledgement from the floor that we can often, snipe and gripe and backstab, so it is not always our non-disabled allies keeping us down; making the opportunities for leadership, when they do come, extremely isolating.

Let’s face it, we all see it as a tiny platform that only a few can share. My belief is that that is just a story we tell ourselves.

Let’s put podiums aside and see, define and experience leadership in different ways Lets explore self, not just in a metaphorical way and not inextricably linked to confidence either but get to know ourselves and our responses and the meanings we ascribe to things Lets start to exercise choice despite of and because of the barriers we experience.

Sync’s ambition and hunger is to find new ways to do these things – together and in doing so to create a myriad of opportunities – a menu that we can all sample!

Sarah Pickthall

Sync 2008