Helena Clayton Newsletter - View this email in your browser
Leadership Developer • Coach & Facilitator • Writer

Welcome to the March 2023 Newsletter

Apparently the Spring Equinox, on 21 March, is the start of Spring . That feels about right to me.  After months of a hibernating mindset and some impressive comfort eating, and feeling permanently cold, I'm not ready to get out of my winter plumage.   

It's been a funny month.  When I have tried to make things happen and come to fruition - nothing.  And when I've sighed and 'handed it all back to the Universe', lo and beyond - some amazing opportunities.  Seems like it's a lesson I need to be reminded of.  Again!  And probably again. 

I've been enjoying the first 3 weeks of a Poetry School course, every Friday afternoon.  Spectacularly out-classed by the 5 other poets, but I'm loving it and learning a lot. 

And in this edition, you have a:

  • wonderful podcast exploring grief as a form of love.
  • piece exploring the term 'global majority'.
  • reminder that we are the sum of our choices and that 'action is character' ...
  • and that love - like kindness and justice - can be a design principle as well as an action.
  • plus some recommended reads and a beautiful poem that feels right for these times. 

I'll be back with you at the start of April and In the meantime, keep putting love first.   

Helena x

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Grief and love: with Tracey McEachran

I've written before about grief - in coaching, in relationship to developing our eldership and in how we might allow ourselves to be 'deepened by diminishment'. 

And in this wonderful new podcast with organisational consultant and artist Tracey McEachran, we explore how important it is to honour our grief, whether that's the the grief that comes with a bereavement or loss, or when we feel the pain of the world's collapsing biodiversity, or of not having the life we thought we would have.  Both 'big grief and small grief' as Tracey puts it. We cover a lot of ground - from limescale in a kettle to Theory U ...

Here's the link to the podcast... 

Also, Tracey is currently running the Cafe of Endings and New Beginnings, creating a regular space where people can explore their grief together.  The second Monday of every month, 7pm-9pm UK.  I'm signed up for 10 April.  Maybe I'll see you there?

How you do one thing ...

'How you do one thing is how you do all things'.  

I love that phrase.  But it manages to horrify me, as well as open every possible set of options for choice-in-the-moment. The writer Annie Dillard has her own version: 'how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives'.  

This phase came up as part of a supervision session with a group of colleagues all using the Harthill Leadership Development Framework in our work.  We started off with that phrase, and then went on to explore how our days are fractals of our wider life, and then of course how a a team culture is a fractal of the organisational culture. How our Western organisational paradigm is a representation of the societal paradigm.  And so on. 

We took apart a head of broccoli to make the point.  To see that the tiny piece is exactly the same as the large piece. We talked about the work of Human Systems Dynamics, which uses some of these principles.

And I'm still left with the need for me to take a good hard look at how I do that one thing ...

Love, and more: with Elloa Barber

I first met Elloa in 2018, when I was running a session at (the sadly-no-longer-running) Meaning Conference.  We've loosely kept in touch and finally got to have a gorgeously deep and meaningful conversation when she invited me onto her excellent new podcast, The Heard Space

You can hear what a generous space she creates for conversation in Episode 3, where we talk about what shaped us to get us where we are, and how love needs no business case.  

'Global majority'

For a long time now, we've known that the term BAME to describe minorities is contentious.  Not least because black and brown people are not in the minority across the world.  Black and brown people represent 80% of the world's population.  Even the term  'people of colour' is based on the assumption that to be of colour is the noteworthy exception and that whiteness is the norm. 

'The challenge ... with the acronym 'BAME' in the UK, the term 'People of Color' in the USA and Visible Minorities in Canada, is that they all situate whiteness as the norm within their respective local contexts even when the opposite is true. Put another way, when you examine the fact that the experience of whiteness is not the norm for the majority of people on this planet, this is an undeniable truth'  .

The words of Rosemary Campbell-Stevens in her article advocating for the use of the term 'global majority' instead.   See what you think.  I found the section on the 'elite while global minority' especially powerful. 

Love as justice
One of the pieces of research that influenced me a lot when I was started to think about love, and its role within organisations was this from the Carnegie Trust, looking at how kindness is a blind-spot in public policy.  It struck me then that if I swapped out kindness for love, the report would work just as well.

As I continue to think about the various forms of love that we need these days, I'm also thinking about 'justice-as-love'.  And so this article from The Ready resonated - on how our organisational operating systems need to be designed with justice and equity at their heart.  It's full of practical suggestions.  See if it resonates with you too. 
Events and Worshops
6 July for the next Love Lab, and it's 
6 July in London.  Full details are here.  A 'proper grown up exploration of love' said a previous participant.  Bold and also very safe, we explore how we create a loving connection between us, when we've only just met, and how that's the powerful multivit that we need for today and tomorrow. 

This event is filling fast.  Exploring the state of the world we find ourselves in, how difficult it is to know what to do and how to play our part -  and to firmly advocate for love as the only sane response.  Acts of Love for Tough Times.  Come and join me.  A FREE online event running 23 March, 9-11am, and you can sign up here


Meanwhile, flowers still bloom.
The moon rises, and the sun.
Babies smile and somewhere,
Against all the odds,
Two people are falling in love.
Strangers share cigarettes and jokes.
Light plays on the surface of water.
Grace occurs on unlikely streets
And we hold each other fast
Against entropy, the fires and the flood.
Life leans towards living
And, while death claims all things at the end,
There were such precious times between,
In which everything was radiant
And we loved, again, this world.

Tom Hirons

A few good reads 
Three excellent fiction reads.  Love Marriage, from Monica Ali was one I was itching to get back to bed at night to dive back into.  And the same for Jean Hegland's Into the Forest. and We Germans by Alexander Starritt - two of the best books I've read in a while, for both the story and the beautiful prose. 

And another knockout read, At Work in the Ruins, from Dougald Hine. Ever since reading Meg Wheatley's Who Do we Choose to be, I've been really interested in how we respond to the fact that systems that have been solid for centuries are starting to crumble.  How do we bring our deepest humanity to our lives.  This book is along those lines and suggests we might just have come to the limits of what science can do for us (we can't geo-engineer our way out of the warming climate) and we might need to face into the deep grief of giving up a way of life that we're addicted to, in order to adapt to the changing world.  Excellent. 
And at work
From a very quiet start in Jan, quieter than I have been in 12 years of working freelance, life has returned to a full dance-card.  That's great on so many levels.  And yet I also notice that I'm missing the space, which gave me the chance to face into some things I don't usually need to: what is enough work?  What is enough money? 

Spent a week on a residential programme for senior Civil Servants.  The first module of a new programme and it was wonderful.  Working in partnership with other suppliers is always challenging but it was good to see how we built a cohesive group from the off.  And yes, 5 days away from home with 50 other people was totally exhausting for this introvert.  But in the work we did exploring 'system leadership' I felt deeply satisfied and, as ever, came away with an even deeper respect for the work our amazing Civil Service does.

Otherwise, setting up a new women's leadership programme, as well as the logistical groundwork for some leadership diagnostic work, using LGI approaches.  Both testing my project management skills in these early stages of the work!
Ok, bye for now.  April will be with us soon and I'll see you then.  

And in the meantime, if you think a conversation about how I might support you, work-wise, might be useful, please do get in touch.  You know where I am on Twitter and LinkedIn, or connect via Email. Or call me of course, whichever suits.

Helena x

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