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Sync: e-bulletin sept 2010


Joy in the moment

...keep knocking, and the Joy inside will eventually open a window and look out to see who's there. (Rumi)

photo of feet walking, one heel towards the camera

For the last few months, the only thing we’ve heard in the cultural sector is the repeated need for us to collectively brace ourselves for what’s coming – the fact that cuts are on there way and things aren’t going to get better, for quite some time yet. So we’ve decided to go against the grain, and dedicate this bulletin to joy – to finding joy in the present moment – and look at how that links to leadership, and especially to us as disabled leaders.

I’ve recently taken up walking meditation, as a way to relax and wind down, yes, but also as a way to give myself space and time to actually ‘be’ rather than plot, plan, dream and scheme. The key to walking meditation is to take each step in its own right – rather than focusing on walking as a means to getting you somewhere. It's about finding the joy in each step, in the very act of walking – as my teacher said: ‘each step of our journey becomes the destination’. Now, I’m not being ‘walkist’ here – you can apply the same technique to anything – eating, washing up, drawing, blackberry picking – it's about focusing on the here and now and finding joy in it.

If you want to find out more about walking meditation…

Finding joy in leadership

...flexing your leadership muscle is therefore the surest route to joy...

photo of the word 'joy' made of metal against a grey background

So what’s that got to do with leadership? I was recently clicking through an article in the Harvard Business School site, and came across a section about ‘how to find joy at work’.

It cited a recent survey of 100,000 Americans that showed that business owners outrank most other occupations in overall well-being, despite working longer hours and earning slightly less. Others who scored well on well-being were those working in farming, fishing, and forestry, despite having the lowest income of any group.

It found that ‘autonomy, influence, and a sense of meaning are associated with lower stress and fewer work-related illnesses, regardless of hours worked’ and concluded that entrepreneurs were the best-off of all.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter, a professor at Harvard Business School and the author of Confidence and SuperCorp, suggests that flexing your leadership muscle is therefore the surest route to joy. ‘The key is setting the agenda and starting the pieces moving towards a purpose-driven goal. If 90% of success in life is just showing up - when you show up, you might as well run the meeting.’

She goes on to list her top ten ways to find joy at work, which we wanted to share with you:

  • Identify long-term personal purpose. Write a personal mission statement and review it often.
 Be an entrepreneur from anywhere. Even if you don't start a business (now), imagine starting a project that will improve your current job, workplace, or community.
  • Discuss the idea informally to find others feeling the same way. Enlist them in the quest. Now they're counting on you not to let them down. Describe it as an experiment that will benefit others. Incorporate feedback so that others hear their ideas in yours.

  • Get a Big Name to endorse giving it a try.

  • Negotiate out of demands that don't contribute to the goal. Keep doing what you must to keep your job, but simplify.

  • Find every supporter a task, however small. Show that you're working for their goals, too.

  • Widen the circle of the informed. Involve people not usually included.

  • Remain positive. Smiling takes fewer muscles than frowning and is contagious. Ignore skeptics unless easily converted.
  • As the bits of the cube start moving, keep communicating and co-ordinating. 

  • Celebrate each "Rubik's Cube" moment of accomplishment – that moment when it all seems to click together. Share the joy to multiply it.

To read the full article by Rosabeth Moss Kanter…

Making the best of things

The only moment we have is now. Our life is a series of "nows", one after the other. Each is precious and we should make the most of them all.

a boy stands in the pouring rain, his back to us, his arms raised.

No-one is saying that everything in everyone’s life is rosy all the time. It's easy to make statements about ‘loving every moment’, ‘finding appreciation’, ‘living in joy’, and so on, but the reality is we enjoy doing some things more than others. There are some things we just don't like doing, especially for some of us who as disabled people might have procedures or access requirements we need to get through.

We often call things we don't like to do things we "have" to do. We like to be in control. Feeling we're forced to do something weakens that sense of control and we can resent the activity. It seems logical that we wouldn't choose to do something we didn't like - somebody must be making us do it.

However, we rarely have to do anything because of outside forces. When we say we have to go to work, it's not because three big guys show up at our home and physically force us out of the door. For most of us, we go because we made a commitment and like to honour it. Maybe we go simply to support our household, in which case it's driven by a devotion and commitment to family. Perhaps we go because it’s a step to get us somewhere else, in which case it's about building ourselves a future. The point is that we do have a choice. We are in control. In this case, we could stay home. There may be consequences we don't want, but we could exercise that choice.

So the first step to feeling good about any situation is to acknowledge that you do have a choice. Once you’ve done that, then think about why you have taken that route. Look at the real reasons why you're doing something and the consequences of not doing it. Then decide if it's worth it to you. If you still decide you going to do the action, you now have another choice. You can do it feeling resentment and annoyance, or you can try to find some way to make the best of it. The quality of your moments and hence the quality of your life depends on this choice.

Consider going to the doctor – something many of us have to do regularly. It's not a favorite thing for most people. However, you've made the decision that you want to maintain your health. Regular visits to a doctor are part of that, so you're going to go. Make the best of it. Look for ways to make the experience enjoyable. Only you can decide what your unique approach will be. Maybe you'll bring a book to read while waiting, or some music to listen to, or you’ll go out for lunch before or after, or take a friend and use the time to catch up.

If you have an actual fear of the procedures you know you’ll have to go through, you could decide to try one of the many techniques available for dealing with fears and phobias. It could become an opportunity to develop a useful life skill. You could decide to appreciate the fact we have the healthcare we have now and we don't have to experience some of the historic healthcare options that were available! The point is this: once you decide to do something, you can, if you want, find a way to enjoy it or at least make it more enjoyable. It’s your choice.

Jez’s Journey

It's been really interesting looking back at myself and my leadership journey. Working with a coach has made me see myself as a leader and now I'm doing something that a person with a learning disability has never done before. (Jez Colborne)

a close up of Jez Colborne playing a mouth organ

Our case study and article this month comes from Jez Colborne, another of the individuals on Sync Intensives and someone who is definitely joyous to be around. Jez is a learning disabled singer, musician, actor and now musical director whose career has taken him around the world – to Hong Kong, USA, Canada, China and Brazil to name a few of the places he has played and performed.

Jez often works with Bradford based Mind the Gap Theatre Company, and it's with them he’s developing a piece called Irresistible, which is one of the first round of Unlimited Commissions, with funding from the Cultural Olympiad through London 2012. It’s described as a 'siren symphony - a live performance with sirens, choral music, projects on the walls and rocks and dramatic lighting and is being staged twice in Bradford at the end of October – one in an urban setting at Listers Mills and once in the rural beauty of the Cow and Calf rocks near Ilkley.

In his case study, Jez takes us though his leadership journey – how it feels always breaking new ground and taking on new roles.

To go straight to the case study on Jez Colborne

Where did you get that hat?

An important part of leading is to develop your own style. Hats have always been about style and making a ‘statement’, but that’s not the whole story. I reckon you’ve got to enjoy the different hats you wear and practice wearing them for yourself (Jez Colborne).

Jez with his hats on a hat stand

His article focuses on the different roles he plays – and how for him, this comes out in the different hats he wears, in particular his Stetson, baseball cap and fedora.

Jez links this to the famous Thinking Hats of Edward de Bono. He developed a technique to enable people to think about an issue from many different perspectives using different coloured hats: red, black, white yellow, green and blue. As Jez says, ‘As a leader you have to do a lot of thinking . The 6 hats can help you think about decisions in different ways. Try these on for size'.

Red Hat - Putting on the red hat means considering other people’s feelings and emotions and how your decisions will affect them

Black Hat - The black hat means having to look at what might go wrong if you make a decision. It allows you to see the pitfalls, before you fall into them.

Yellow Hat - Wearing the yellow hat is about thinking about the good things that will come from your decisions - the sunny side up.

Green Hat - A green hat is about using creativity in your thinking and using this to help spice things up.

White Hat - This is about having the facts and the figures in front of you.

Blue Hat - Wearing the blue hat means you have to see the whole picture!

You can find out more about Irresistible by going to the Mind the Gap microsite – which has an amazing 360 degree photo of the Cow and Calf rocks, complete with ‘clickable Jez’s’!

To go straight to Jez’s article on Leadership Hats

CLP opportunities

Life opens up opportunities to you, and you either take them or you stay afraid of taking them. (Jim Carrey)

the logo used to show sign language

And finally, a quick round up of some of the other opportunities offered by CLP at the moment. To start with there is one for Deaf leaders and one looking at the different models for leadership development offered to disabled and deaf people in the last few years.

DaDa in Liverpool are delivering a comprehensive programme of leadership development days, peer mentoring, and online networking for Deaf leaders in the Creative Cultural Sector funded through CLP. Hands On will take place between September 2010 and March 2012. Working within Direct Communication principles, it aims to bring together 20 Deaf leaders for a programme of three days over the next six months. The programme is most suited to mid-career leaders who have experience of leading others, formally or informally, and wish to develop their leadership potential further. 
Learn, share and be inspired by top leaders and speakers from within the Deaf community both in the UK and abroad.

DaDa are also leading on the Levelling Up project, with the Aspire Trust looking to identify and report on cultural leadership programmes that have been developed for deaf and disabled leaders over the last 10 years. Any suggestions? Do get in touch with them and help get the research started.

The Bluecoat
, School Lane
, Liverpool
 L1 3BX
, Text Phone: 0151 706 0365 Voice Phone: 0151 707 1733 Fax: 0151 708 9355

There’s also a new book out. In partnership with Creative Choices, CLP has published A cultural leadership reader, bringing together key articles and book reviews that focus on the importance of leadership for mid-career and senior professionals in the creative and cultural industries. You can download a copy online through the CLP site or ask them to send you a hard copy.

And if all that’s not enough, why not join the CLP network – an online social network dedicated to creative and cultural leaders. The CLP Network brings together a wide range of leaders from emerging to CEO level, across regions and sectors, to communicate online and can be accessed straight from the CLP site.

That’s all for this month. Next month we bring you the input of another one of the individuals on Sync Intensives – Rachael Wallach.

Jo Verrent

Project Manager, Sync

To go straight to the CLP website...

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