Helena Clayton | December: 3 Good Things
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December: 3 Good Things

31 Dec 2018, Posted by Helena Clayton in Monthly Blog

Each month, three things that have inspired or interested me as I go about my life and work. I hope you like them too …

1. A nomadic mindset

How can the mindset and actions of nomadic peoples across the world serve us well as we navigate uncertain territory in our corporate ventures?

Early in December, a group of 100 young managers from a global accounting practice on a 12 months leadership programme worked with two elders from nomadic communities to explore this. One was a Romany gypsy and the other someone who had spent his life observing and living indigenous nomadic communities, including the Maasai and tribes in Mongolia. Richard O’Neill and Anthony Willoughby are part of the Nomadic School of Business and they brought Africa, Mongolia (and Essex) to us – to our imaginations, and to our leadership. They had a great way of ‘bringing the outside in’, and through practical activities and discussion, our group spent the day exploring:

  • How can you map the seasons that you and your clients are in – and what’s needed to transition to the next season?
  • What’s needed as you move from the leadership energy of a warrior to that of an elder?
  • What stories do we need to tell ourselves and our people as we move to new territories?

It was a big day, with powerful learning – and I hope to get to spend more time with them next year.

2. John Mark Comer

I don’t listen to many podcasts. I get easily distracted and don’t take them in. Nor do I have a religious faith and so wouldn’t naturally turn to a podcast from a church. But something made me listen to this one when a friend sent it to me. John Mark Comer was being interviewed by someone from KCX, a church in King’s Cross, in London, on the importance of slowing down and how a life of hurry is incompatible with a life of joy, peace and love.

As someone who struggles with getting the balance right between doing and being, this was spot on. I rarely get it right when it comes to being busy and being still, being active in the world and retreating. I have a huge appetite for connection and stimulation, but I am also a raging introvert with a sometimes overpowering need to be nowhere near people and conversation. Anyway, I liked what John Mark had to say about stillness, solitude the sabbath and simplicity. And, with my own research and interest in leadership and love, I found him pretty much on the money as he talked about ‘a hurried person can’t also be a loving person – we have to choose’. Because I certainly recognise that in myself – that my busyness is a form of numbing out, in some ways, and it also makes my choices sometimes self serving, mean and controlling. But when I can be still and quiet I am also more able to choose a more generous, compassion and loving response.

Anyway, it’s only 30 mins, see what you make of it yourself here.

3. Teaching me to see

And then, a book that I’m most of the way through. ‘Joyful: the surprising power of everyday things to create extraordinary happiness‘ is from Ingrid Fetell Lee – ex IDEO, the design thinking people. It reminded me of being taken to see a Paula Rego exhibition with a boyfriend back in the 80’s in Cardiff. Peter was an architect and he loved art and loved the work of Paula Rego – and he stood with me in front of each of the paintings and ‘taught me’ how to see them. I have always been grateful for that lesson in seeing and she remains one of my all time favourites – probably for that reason.

This book is a bit like that. Ingrid Fettell Lee does what Peter did with me all those years ago – shows me the world through her eyes and all the various ways that she has come to see joy in our external and built environment. Through her exploration of colour, freedom, space, abundance, transcendence and host of other things, I realise that I am now spotting new shapes and colour in my environment and more actively connecting with what delights me and shifts my mood.

I often wonder whether I’m living my life with as wide a bandwidth as I could. And when Fetell Lee says this, I’m encouraged to keep aiming for more technicolour and little less grey:

‘Every human being is born with the capacity for joy, and like the pilot light in your stove, it still burns within you even if you haven’t switched on the burners in a while. [This book] is the key to reigniting those joyful flames, one that promises to radically change the way you look at the world around you. At the heart of this book lies the idea that joy isn’t something we find. Its also something that we can make for ourselves and for those around us.’

Gorgeous and highly recommended.

So, I wish you well as you move off the starting blocks of 2019 and I’ll be back again at the end of the month with more good things.

Helena x

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