Helena Clayton | October: 3 Good Things
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October: 3 Good Things

04 Nov 2018, Posted by Helena Clayton in Monthly Blog

A monthly post where I pass on things that I find interesting in the hope that you might too…

This month saw me head to Hong Kong (my first visit 😊) for a module of a leadership programme for a London Business School client; begin working with a new cohort of Roffey Park’s MSc in People and Organisations, which is some of my favourite work; start work as a coach and facilitator with Ivy House delivering (bold) leadership development for emerging talent; and write up my research report from my Leading from Love side project.

But none of that makes it into my pick for this month. Instead:

1. Map of Meaning

The first step in the journey that has me writing about love at all began about 10 years ago. Marjo Lips Wiersma and Lani Morris, academics from New Zealand, had developed a framework to explore meaning at work and in our wider lives. They came to work with a small group of us at Roffey Park to accredit us in using the model and we explored meaning, purpose and spirit for both self and others, from an individual and also organisational and systemic perspective. It was excellent.

It was also a moment that sent me in a subtly different direction. You know how adjusting course by even 1 degree when on a ocean crossing means you end up in a very different place? It was one of those moments. The first step for me was that I booked a week at The Findhorn Foundation which I found one of the most provocative experiences I had had – but one that meant I opened up to explore spirituality in a new way. Something that I had actively body swerved until then (that’s a whole other story) but impacted me hugely.

Anyway, I recommend this model. When I use it with groups, it goes down really well and always generates rich and deep conversation. And it feels right on the money, in terms of the sorts of conversations we need to be having about our organisations these days.

You can learn more about the Map of Meaning at a workshop session with Lani and Marjo at Meaning Conference this year on 15 November. You could read the book or sign up for a more in-depth 2 day exploration of it, which leads to accreditation.

2. Action Learning

I am a huge fan of Action Learning and do what I can to integrate action learning sets into my leadership programmes as I can. I was reminded of their power this month (as if I need the reminder) when my Mayvin colleague Tony Nicholls and I ran a supervision session for an OD team in the Civil Service. The simplicity of giving people space to talk, to get support and challenge from peers and, in the face of good questions, find new insights and solutions to the issue they brought …powerful stuff …works every time.

And two people who really know their stuff on his subject are Richard Hale and Sonja Antell.

(P.S did you know that Reg Revans, who originated action learning, was a Quaker? If you look at some of the Quaker ways of having dialogue and making decisions, a lot falls into place.)

3. Gratitude – and my assumptions

Some years ago, I was running action learning sets regular for a large group of mangers in Housing Association. One person repeatedly came to the set saying ‘I have no issues to bring’. I struggled with that. And I was very judgemental. Really? How can that be ? The very nature of managing means that stuff comes up all the time – how can you not see that? How can you be so closed to learning? (I know, I can hear myself!)

She and I ‘did business with this’ in the set, having difficult and sometimes testy conversations. But I came to see that as soon as she had identified an issue or problem, she thought it through really quickly. She did her own problem solving. She was a super-fast thinker. She was fiercely independent. And her actions and solutions were usually pretty spot on.
It was a really humbling experience for me. Finding myself say ‘yes, I can see action learning isn’t the way you learn’. (So action learning doesn’t work every time, of course)
And something similar happened to me this month.

Gratitude. No matter how you come at it it’s A Good Thing, right? So much research points to the link with gratitude and wellbeing, resilience and better sleep. And in line with a ‘gratitude practice’ we can all find three things we’re grateful for, even if they are tiny, right? Not necessarily. Because I read this excellent piece in the Guardian that describes how, for some of us with trauma in our childhood, we may simply be unable to connect to gratitude. If we haven’t had it modelled for us, then we may not be able to access it now. And in fact it might be counterproductive to insist people try harder to get it.

So while I pride myself on ‘meeting the client where they’re at’ and have been doing my work for a long time now, I am still startled when I bump up against my own assumptions, my own blind spots. Rich learning.

So that’s me for October and I’ll be back again in a month with November’s delights.

Come and find me on Twitter using @HelenaClayton if you want more things like this. And please do share if you think others might like what I write.

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