I'm thinking about...
It's only been a couple of weeks, not months and months, and there is so very much in my world to be thankful for - but, like many others it seems, I've struggled a bit this time round in lockdown.
I was feeling a little low as we went into lockdown (mentally and spiritually), which resulted in my body reacting physically with a nasty skin infection, which led to a level 4 GP virtual consult - then a visit, some very minor surgery and antibiotics. Happy to report - all healed now and feeling fully better, and the sun is shining brightly today 😀
But this was a good lesson for me: to take time to practice self compassion, refill my tank and find ways to feel more connected despite lockdown. Sometimes , I'm a slow learner!!!
So what did I do?
In addition to getting some medical help (I have an absolutely fab GP!!!) - I stopped putting the guilt trip on myself to create and took time to rest and dip into some old & new material. My upcoming gig has a delayed start date due to lockdown, so I had some space (I appreciate it's not as easy for everyone).
So here's a summary of what I've been dipping in to (rather than reading front to back) over the last couple of weeks...I'm a slow reader, so I tend to have a smorgasbord of books, audio books, podcasts and book summaries on Blinkist (an app I love 👍🏼). On reflection this smorgasbord seems to fall into two categories: thought leadership and personal wellbeing.
I've returned to material from four authors that have inspired me and taught me much over the years and in particular over recent months, as I prepare new material for workshops and webinars.
Margaret Heffernan (Entrepreneur, Writer & Keynote Speaker))
Uncharted: How to map the future together was written before the pandemic and published last year - I've been dipping in and out of it since then. Life and the world are unpredictable, we need to learn new skills at all levels to respond differently. Margaret offers some really good thinking as we navigate the future.
In complex environments, efficiency is a hazard, not a help; being robust offers more powerful alternatives. Cathedral projects, developed over centuries, show how much can be achieved in facing the unknown. Being prepared is more creative and more effective than planning. Once you accept that no one knows the future, possibilities proliferate."
This led me to pull out from the bookshelf an older book from MH, Beyond Measure. A book that seems even more relevant in this complex uncertain environment. In fact, as we were processing the NZ Level 4 announcements, I was engaged in the third installment of the 2021 ANZOG/CPI Reimagining Government webinar series "Meaningful Measurement". In his post event Medium article David Murikumthara from CPI identifies three key themes from the webinar, which align well with ideas in MH's book:
Dave Snowden (Author of the Cynefin Framework)
I first came across the Cynefin Framework when I was in the thick of my MBA research. Around the same time Dave visited NZ and I jumped at the opportunity to sign up for his masterclass. Since then I've been following Dave and the Cynefin community's work, as well as integrating the framework into my workshops and approach. The book, Cynefin: Weaving sense-making into the fabric of our world was also published last year and, much like Uncharted, I've been dipping in and out of it.
This year, after releasing the EU Field Guide: Managing complexity (and chaos) in times of Crisis, Dave invited folk to be part of a global group to populate the Cynefin wiki. I put up my hand and after some online training from Dave, joined forces virtually with an eclectic global crowd to get the work done. It's been great to build wider community connections as well as build a deeper understanding of the framework and associated tools.My personal input focused on the Triopticon page - "a formal workshop method that facilitates the interaction between different disciplines, participants, ideas and beliefs, encouraging the sharing of conflicting points of view and thus the analysis and synthesis of elements of disagreement between traditionally diverse fields in order to enhance understanding". This really got me thinking about my work as a facilitator or convener of complex conversations and opportunities - what that looks like and involves.
Returning to the book again I am finding deeper and more meaningful insights, particularly pertaining to complex systems facilitation.
Cynefin means the place of your multiple belongings, a multi-threaded and entangled path that makes you what you are, and continues to change over time. Learning to live with that and to work with it is key to maturity and impact. I haven't always been successful but I have tried. (Dave, from the book (p55))
The need to act in concert, to work together, is key but that working together recognises what, from a complexity science perspective, we would call requisite diversity. We don't want to homogenise but to create coherent heterogeneity, or the ability to come together in common need for common purpose without the loss of what made us distinctive in the first place. (From the Field Guide, p66)
Adam Kahane (Collaboration Guru)
I seem to remember a colleague introducing me to Adam's work over a decade ago. All his books are filled with wisdom born out of real life practical experience. I've learnt much from all of them and on this occasion it was Power and Love: A theory of social change that I pulled off the bookshelf.
I am really looking forward to my pre-ordered copy of his latest book Facilitating Breakthrough: How to remove obstacles, bridge differences, and move forward together arriving.
In order to address our toughest challenges, we must indeed connect, but this is not enough: we must also grow. In other words, we must exercise both love (the drive to unity) and power (the drive to self-realisation). If we choose either love or power, we will get stuck in recreating existing realities, or worse. If we want to create new and better realities - at home, at work, in our communities, in the world - we need to learn how to integrate our love and our power.
Brené Brown (Researcher and Storyteller)
Brené's work has been a constant companion for some time.
Dare to Lead: Brave work, Tough conversations, Whole Hearts is my most gifted book and a must read for all leaders and emerging leaders. The book outlines four skill sets:
Leadership is not about titles or the corner office. It’s about the willingness to step up, put yourself out there, and lean into courage. The world is desperate for braver leaders. It’s time for all of us to step up.
I'm also re-listening to The Gifts of Imperfection audiobook - this time along with my sister who is in the US and I miss immensely. For me, the hardest part of the pandemic has been this separation from my whānau overseas, so we've been intentional about being creative and 'virtually' hanging out weekly. My sister is my dear friend and also a leadership university professor, so I learn so much from her. We committed to listening and discussing our take-homes together, which brings a new dimension to the listening and learning.
I've also taken the opportunity to catch up on the 2021 EDNZ Conference: Resilience, Reimagining and Recovery Footage (pay wall to access). I didn't make it to this event in June and was delighted to have the opportunity to access some of the recordings. A wealth of knowledge and wisdom shared here. I am struck by the recurring themes of collaboration and working together.
For a few years now, I've been an avid listener to Blinkist - when I'm cooking, walking, cleaning etc. When someone I respect suggests or refers to a book - I download it. Not all books are on the app, but enough are, and I get enough from the summary to decide if the book is for me or not. The app is well worth its annual subscription. A snapshot of my current listening list included in the header picture.
Personal Well Being
Atomic Habits probably needs little introduction and provides a framework based around four "laws":
Centered was recommended by a friend who knows me all too well and saw my stress levels, even before I owned them. I've heard Richard Black speak at a number of events and found this little paperback an easy read that complemented my meditation and yoga practice well.
Flavour was my lockdown birthday gift to myself 😀 I love cooking and this latest edition from Ottolenghi couldn't be more apt for me at this time as I'm working to reduce my meat intake. It's filled with all vegetarian recipes and great Middle Eastern flavours.
And I confess, as well as daily local walks with the dogs, I've also done some Netflix bingeing and just sitting in the garden or the sunniest spot in the house!
As I wrote this I was reminded of how thankful I am for my people - my friends and family, medical practitioners, educators, thought leaders and more. Even in lockdown, they surround me and are with me, giving me courage to keep moving forward.
I pray that wherever you are, you too are surrounded by love and know that you are not alone.
Kia tupato, kia noho haumaru | Take care and stay safe.