Sync logo

Sync: e-bulletin Nov 2011


Exciting Times

Every man can transform the world from one of monotony and drabness to one of excitement and adventure. (Irving Wallace)

a wooden mannekin jumps up in excitement

This month we can bring you the first of our guest pieces from this year’s Sync Intensives group.

It’s a fantastic collective with a real diversity of experience and perspective within it and it's going to be great to share their thinking with you.

The first two pieces we bring to you are by presenter and performer Liz Carr, co-presenter of the BBC’s Ouch podcast and writer, comedian and activist, and Lynn Weddle, visual artist and photographer and CEO of the Charlotte Miller Art Project (cmap).

This month we are also bringing you some Sync thinking about drivers – the different motivating forces pushing us into action.


With great power comes great responsibility

Disabled people are natural leaders. Whether we actively choose this path or not, the truth is that all of us have leadership thrust upon us. Through the simple act of being present and visible in our communities, the non-disabled world bestow on us the responsibility of being spokespeople, teachers and role models for every other disabled person in existence. Quite a burden for those of us with teeny tiny shoulders.

Liz Carr comparing with a mic.

So begins our article this month on the Sync site from Liz Carr.

Liz reckons everything she knows about leadership, she learnt from Spiderman, or rather from that great line attributed to his uncle: “with great power comes great responsibility”.

Liz asks herself, and us all by association:

If our every daily action and inaction is viewed and judged by the public, do we, as disabled people, have a responsibility to educate the public? More pertinently, as disabled artists whose work inevitably takes us into the public domain, do we have an added responsibility?

Be warned - her article is like her standup - hard hitting and provocative (and includes language that might cause offence). Her point is a fascinating one - just how far do we limit ourselves as disabled people in order to conform to the requirements of others? Should we?

In reading it, I'm reminded of that fantastic quote that is often misattributed to Nelson Mandala, but was actually from Marianne Williamson:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? ...Your playing small does not serve the world.

Actually, within leadership positions we have a obligation to be who we really are, not to try and fit in and be who other people want us to be. Yes, we need to be ourselves with finesse, to consider the thoughts and feelings of others, to learn how we can flex, bend and stretch - but only within the realms that are right for us.

Liz ends her piece by saying:

I’m under no illusions that who I am as a disabled person and an artist will always be open to misinterpretation - to some I’ll always be a role model, an inspiration or just plain offensive. I can’t take responsibility for how me and my work will be judged so perhaps I’m most effective when I’m just being me - when I’m not censoring my thoughts in case they offend, worrying about educating anyone and representing everyone? Maybe what Spiderman’s Uncle really meant was, “with great power comes great responsibility - to be true to yourself”?

How true to yourself are you being in the way you lead at the moment?

To go straight to Liz's article

The ebb and flow of Lynn Weddle

Last year I completed a Masters in Photography at the University of Brighton and delivered ‘Hidden’, an exhibition working with young people with hidden disabilities. I feel I have a strong foundation to continue my practice as an artist and an educator, clearly able to see how the two interlink, how they ebb and flow together.

A photograph of West Pier by Lynn Weddle

Lynn Weddle has worked with The British Museum, National Maritime Museum, Aspex Gallery, De La Warr Pavilion, Towner Gallery and Pallant House Gallery as well as being CEO for cmap, providing arts activity for disaffected young people in the Latin American countries of Ecuador, Mexico and Brazil.

In her case study, she maps the journey from her isolating experiences being bullied at school through to finding her affinity with art, and with the sea. Along the way there are many places to go and people to meet, including inspirational people from her past:

At the time I was told by a relation that I was in some way related to the great explorer James Weddell (1787-1834), who in the spring of 1832 sailed to a latitude of 74°15' S into a region of the Southern Ocean that later became known as the Weddell Sea. From all accounts, he was an amazing leader, pushing the men forward, encouraging them to go beyond themselves.

Lynn’s journey has taken her deep into an exploration of her own identity, as someone with a hidden impairment, through to supporting others to look again at themselves and what they can achieve.

It’s the perfect match to Liz’s article this month. Rather than looking outwards at what others expect us to be and to become, Lynn has looked inwards through much of her arts practice to find her strength, and then brought this into her work with others.

I feel there is a small part of me that can so intimately connect and understand the struggle for sense of self with vulnerable young people, I pull on this and use it to inform my practice of photographic portraiture.

What can you pull on from within your experience of the world, that can help you connect outwards?

To go straight to Lynn's case study

What’s driving you?

Here is a test to find out whether your mission in life is complete. If you're alive, it isn't. (Richard Bach)

an arrow hitting a target

In fairytales and stories it's often easy to work out what drives particular characters, to work out what they want, what they are looking for, why they act in a particular way. It’s much harder to look at ourselves and honestly work out what pushes us forwards, what drives us. In both Liz and Lynn’s pieces, their drivers do emerge…

Why do we find it hard to admit to what drives us? Some of us may just have not given it much thought, or perhaps we are nervous of acknowledging them - thinking people will judge us, considering us shallow, big headed or vain.

The truth is we are all driven by different things, by different combinations of things. whatever it is that drives us give us energy, give us enthusiasm, give us a zest and a fight for life. We need to acknowledge and understand them, not shy away.

Do any of the drivers on the list below strike you? Don’t get put off by the words – check the definitions to see if they fit you.

Recognition - a desire to be known or visible; a search to be noticed.

Power – a desire to succeed, to make things happen, to make a difference, to influence other people

Hedonism – the pursuit of fun, excitement, pleasure and good times.

Altruism – a desire to help others, concern for the welfare of others, public service and the betterment of humanity and /or the natural world

Affiliation – a need for and enjoyment of frequent and close contact with other people, a need for the spirit of collaboration and social interaction

Tradition – a belief in values such as family, hard work, thrift, good manners and duty to others.

Science –an interest in how things work, someone who is comfortable with technology, who likes data and verifiable truths

Commerce – an interest in creating value in measurable financial terms, a life of enterprise

Security – a need for a degree of predictability and certainty, creating stability for self and others, minimising risk

Aesthetics – a need for self expression and an interest in the look, feel, quality and sound of things

Driving things forwards

a road sign saying 'the way forward'

You may find that one really stood out for you, or it might have been a couple that you were attracted too. Perhaps you thought of a different one – one we may have missed off our list.

The question is having now identified your driver/s – what are you going to do about it?.

That’s it for this month.

All the best,

Jo Verrent and Sarah Pickthall


ADA inc logo    CUSP inc logo    People Create logo
Cultural Leadership logo

If you want to be removed from the mailing list please
email and put the word 'remove' in the subject line