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Sync: e-bulletin July 2010


All change

It is not the strongest of the species who survive, not the most intelligent, but those who are most adaptive to change (Charles Darwin).

A painting of King Canute

We are bombarded daily by the media about the changes afoot: the hard times ahead, the looming cuts that will kick in over the next four years and the shrinking environments and budgets for the work that we do.

It seems that our professional lives are under threat.

Yet an intrinsic part of life is that we are all in a cycle of nature, unable to control the breaking day, the ever changing impact of the weather.

Now I'm not saying that we rush down to the ocean to stop the ensuing tide but if we accept that as Tony Buzan says that 'All is Change. You are change' and now is the time to take control, to influence and to adapt to the changes ahead.

Adapt and prosper

Life is destructive and destruction is creative, get used to it, get over it and learn to adapt and prosper (Andrew Missingham, CLP re:freshers, 90 second think piece)

a magnified pictures of cells dividing

So what do we need to do to take control in these interesting time. Perhaps we firstly need to acknowledge that there are things that we cannot control: from cells inside ourselves dividing to devastating sea swells.

Tony Buzan in his book Embracing Change says that to embrace change we need to start by 'noticing the impact of our thousand upon thousand of thoughts on our behaviour'.

This is interesting. In Sync we frequently focus on the idea of 'choosing how to feel' and how important this is to practice, and rarely look at things beyond our control, such as making the waves stop.

Buzan goes on to talk about the choices of nature and cataclysmic changes in the energies of the earth and the universe, offering us important metaphors for our own relationship with change.

Read the first few pages of Embracing Change on Amazon

Change in 90 seconds

90 seconds feels like reduced resources, shrinking resources feels like the new bogeyman. Snot is runny, unclear, unwieldy and unwanted. Plan ahead. Take a hankie! (Nina Edge Associate Artist, Tate Liverpool speaking at the 90 seconds event at CLP re:freshers)

a crackle of lightening and smoke to represent inspiration.

Hankies are useful for managing a runny nose as well as for celebrating victories.

It seems we're going to have to buy our hankies in bulk for the good and bad times ahead.

The recent re:freshers event at the Wellcome Collection kicked off with a rich and diverse set of twenty two, 90 second presentations from a selection of individuals taking part in CLP programmes. This included 2 of our Sync membership, Rachael Wallach and Sue Williams.

What was 're:freshing' about this conference overall was that disabled and Deaf people were visible, integral and powerful across the 3 days, leading, learning and hanging out, and this felt like a significant sea change from Sync's perspective.

Not that we're now able to control and realise all our leadership thinking and dreaming. Let's face it, everyone is having to relinquish a sense of control in the face of change, but it's good to realise that we really are part of a network that influences change and we need to get used to it!

As Rachael Wallach who is currently on Sync Intensives said in her 90 second slot, we all need to move beyond our natural individual tendency to think about our own survival.

Rachael argued that yes, we need to create our own vision and borrowing someone else's won't make it real, but we must recognise the power of a networking opportunity that sees leaders of today and tomorrow in one space creating a vision together...

Rachael Wallach will be talking more in the Autumn on Sync about her experience of local government, leadership and creativity.

Sync Intensive profile: Theresa Kiyota Rahman de Swiet

Before I began this research, I thought ‘leadership’ was a dirty word, tainted with the misuse of corrupting power, awash with images of Animal Farm dictators and fraudulent politicians... (Theresa Kiyota Rahman de Swiet)

Extract from shamanbuddha

Theresa Kiyota Rahman de Swiet is currently on placement with the Whitechapel Gallery through a CLP Leading in London placement, supported by Sync. As part of this she is within the Sync Intensives programme and therefore contributing an article and a case study about herself to our growing resource.

Theresa's view of leadership as a concept has been utterly transformed by her placement. Contrast the comment above, which starts her article for Sync this month, with another she makes a few sentences later:

My experience on a Cultural Leadership Placement at the Whitechapel Gallery (WG) however, opened my eyes to the very real possibility of operating within a hierarchical structure that quite brilliantly doesn’t feel like a hierarchy. What is the magical alchemy that allows this? Was I mistaken in my focus on organisational structures? Is it in fact leadership that makes the difference?

Theresa has chosen to focus on another leader for her case study - someone she admires who has found themselves caught in the 'trap' of leadership where people treat you differently: SarahGem Tonin the creative thinker who founded Creative Routes, an arts collective in south London, and artistically directed Bonkersfest, a multi-disciplinary arts festival.

In an open and frank interview with Theresa, she admits:

Creative Routes was started through complete ignorance and stupidity, and it was started by mistake...

At one point in the interview she describes exactly how she felt at the point when dynamics within Creative Routes began to become complex:

I’ve got a picture of my internals with butterflies turning into geese bumping into my skin. I’m in the middle of a road and life is busily around and I’m on a little island in the middle. Because it felt that even though I wasn’t invisible, my needs felt invisible, and I’ve got a picture of my head of loose connections. When I was outside the group I knew what was happening because of the vision of CR but when I was with the group I was very confused because group dynamics were jealousies, and I wasn’t being related to as a fellow nut. So they looked at me differently, I suppose that’s part of being a leader, you’re looked at differently, treated differently...

It's a fascinating insight into being a reluctant leader and the impact negative experiences of leadership can have on the individual - do follow the link below and read the whole case study for yourself.

Read more about Theresa Kiyota Rahman de Swiet's view on leadership

Surfing the waves

You embrace change. Change embraces you (Tony Buzan).

Photo of disabled surfers

So is change and getting through it something we can embrace? Something that we can feel galvanised by? Yes? No? Maybe?

Tony Buzan is inspired by what Charles Darwin says, leaning away from the idea of 'survival of the fittest' towards the need to adapt. He talks about countering the effects of enforced change by being proactive in order to avoid feeling a victim of circumstances.

The key to this, I think, lies in how we going to change our own circumstances? We are used to adapting, responding, changing in order to survive and be visible. We must remember to:

capitalise on how good we have been so far in getting our needs met. If we're not so good at it, we need to start practicising getting more of what we need on our terms, now (as is our equitable right)!

exercise choice over how we feel about the changes ahead

As Tony Buzan says 'you choose to become a victim of the situation and your emotions or to ride change like a surfer: learning from it, managing it and helping others to manage it too, in the most positive way possible.

take a hankie. Not to wave the sea back but to be ready for the good and the bad, the tears of tribulation and the happy wins.

And so

That's it for this month. Get your surf boards out and ride the waves of change.

Sarah Pickthall

Sync Coaching

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