‘A Whole New World’

So I came across a video that nearly broke my heart. It was an extremely talented mother and son singing to each other the classic from Aladdin ‘ A Whole New World.’ It is so wonderful I had to share it with you. You can tell how close they are and that the young man clearly has inherited his mother’s wonderful voice:

Of course, it got me thinking about the power of connection. You would expect me to say that if you know me. Let’s think for a second though… your home ‘family’ -whatever that is – can be one part of the connection piece (in my case absolutely the biggest part) but work in the ‘new normal’ and through agile working can be isolating. It is so much easier if you have a work family too where people understand you and show compassion to each other. Sadly sometimes I confess to know that it is not always going to be the case in your organisation. I have however, come across various family references in organisations I have worked with e.g. ‘Work Wife, Work Mum, Work Sister’ and also on on social media. So a bit like the song- I want to explore the future of work in this context:

So at the end of the song it says

I can’t go back to where I used to be

A Whole New World (From the motion picture ‘Aladdin’)

It is where I am. Why not join me in this whole new world by looking at what I do here?

‘I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo’ versus ‘listen to the song here in my heart’

Today’s blog is unapologetically a bit of a Radiohead/Beyonce mash up. It came to me a while back following attending a memorial service for a very dear friend of mine – (Gordon) who had sadly passed. I could not complete it until now a few months on- I was too upset. During Gordon’s memorial service, I found out so much about him that I did not know. He was already a phenomenal friend to me but his life was so much richer than I ever knew. His generosity and his kind spirit was admired by many and – he had literally saved lives during his career. The huge turnout to pay respects both in person and online was really so touching. I hoped he was somewhere watching it.

During the service three things crossed my mind:

  1. I wonder if he ever knew in life how much everyone thought of him? Did we all take the time to tell him?
  2. Why didn’t I know all these things about my fabulous friend?
  3. Then the ‘ego’ one slipped in- ‘What would people say about me?’

On 1 and 2, I want to pledge to know one thing I did not know about the friends and colleagues I work closely with by the end of the week. I encourage you to do the same. Perhaps it will fuse closer connections. Why wait until someone is no longer around to find out the important contribution they made to this life?

On 3, there have been a number of times in my life where the ‘imposter’ has made me dilute my achievements. I confess I have been at conferences in the past and thought:

‘What the hell am I doin’ here?
I don’t belong here… ‘

Radiohead ‘Creep’

I think this was because I had not found my purpose. But then I met Toni McLelland from 1st Life Group who unleashed my inner Beyonce and reminded me that these were old tapes playing. I was entitled to be there as much as anyone, my voice is my voice and it may help someone. It made me realise that some of the more challenging experiences at work I had experienced in the past could strengthen and not weaken the cause for compassionate leadership. As Beyonce sings :

I’m more than what you made of me
I followed the voice you think you gave to me
But now I’ve gotta find my own, my own

Beyonce ‘Listen’ from the motion picture ‘Dreamgirls’

I know now not to define leader by grade. When you think about it- anyone can be a leader. We also all want to be considered as being ‘special’ to someone and this is not just in our personal life but our work-life too. We may not all want an all singing dancing recognition party but there is certainly a bit of me that craves a small ‘Gordon’ moment? I also want my imposter to stop comparing and start sharing:

‘You’re so very special
I wish I was special’

Radiohead, ‘Creep’ [edited expletive]

If we find it within ourselves difficult to be compassionate then how can others be compassionate to us?

So if your work situation is toxic or you are leading an unhappy team, reach out. You may discover something about someone you never knew. Otherwise you may lose someone valuable to your team.

But I’ll be moving on
If you don’t, if you won’t

Listen to the song here in my heart
A melody I start but I will complete

Beyonce ‘Listen’

Feel free to drop me a line about what you have found out about your colleagues today and thanks for reading.

Michelle

All you need is love

Sounds weird doesn’t it? … to say you love people at work. When you listen to the third minute of this video though you will see how natural and believable it can sound. How much did I want to work for Steven Gerrard after seeing this!

This interview with Steven Gerrard, Football Manager of Aston Villa, came after Philippe Coutinho scored an impressive and important equalising goal against Manchester United. It was clear that Philippe was brought on to change the shape of the match and there was a lot of pressure to score in his cameo appearance. What was also clear though was the amount of effort Gerrard intended to put in to make Coutinho feel supported and loved.

So what can we learn from this?

Well, employees basically thrive more if their performance is supported and importantly the environmental conditions are right.

I do believe leaders need to develop and essentially create the kind of compassionate, supportive environment Gerrard talks about.

As the Beatles sang:

All you need is love

Love is all you need

Iore from my newsletter.

The Beatles

Who you are (it’s okay not to be okay)

So today is a bit of an experiment. I usually write when I am in a buoyant mood but today I have felt a bit low and thought in the spirit of authenticity, why not write? The ‘mood’ comes after an amazing weekend that was just so peaceful and relaxing where I had really jumped off the hamster wheel and taken the opportunity to just be.

As you can see idyllic right? Today though it was back to earth again and all the expectations -often self created- came flooding back about what I should be doing right now. I’ve managed to catch the mood as it is happening and not be too swayed by it. It is on days like this though that it is even more important for me to align to my purpose. It is also in these ‘low’ moments that doubts can creep in and the need to re-centre on my ‘why’ is essential . It was during this reflection the song by Jessie J popped into my head and these lines:

Don’t lose who you are

In the blur of the stars

Seeing is deceiving

Dreaming is believing

it’s okay not to be okay

Sometimes it’s hard

To follow your heart

Tears don’t mean you’re losing

Everybody’s bruising

Just be true to who you are

Jessie J – Who you are

I know I will wake up tomorrow and think ‘what was that all about?’ – I always do. I did not however want to brush the feeling off as this is part of me as much as the buoyant side of me is. We all have different moods throughout the day – and some of us are less adept at hiding them- this is why it is so important to be able to be yourself in your working environment and I wanted to share my ‘work’ me today.

Thanks for reading – I am working on a Compassionate Leadership Series that goes further into this space and if you are interested in finding more about being authentic and this work take a look here.

Above all though take care and be ‘who you are’.

Michelle

It’s Coming Home (and not just football)

In the closing stages of the Semi Final match of Euro 2020 against Denmark, England made a whopping 53 passes to each other unlocking their ‘inner Brazil’. I appreciate not everyone is a football fan like me (so I thought post a link to ‘Pass Masters’ Euro 2020: England’s excellent game management as they close out Denmark win with 53-pass exhibition – BBC Sport for those who are). Even if you are not a football fan though, you can perhaps appreciate this is pretty amazing and … you may have heard of Gareth Southgate.

Everyone who I speak to (fans or not) seem to really like this football team and Gareth especially. Gareth missed a crucial penalty in Euro 1996 (something he gets reminded of all the time) but rather than crush him – which I am sure it did back then – he says that it has now helped him become a better Manager. It was not until I read this guardian article How England players went from being targets of boo boys to likable lads | England | The Guardian that I started to realise there is something about being in the compassionate leadership space that appears to drive not only the fan’s mentality -who get behind the team- but connectedness within the team which appears to be driving performance. Are we onto something here I wonder?

So what is the ingredient? Again referencing the Guardian article – these footballers are not just sports people they are campaigners for good. Ok they have their rogue moments (who doesn’t?) but recently we have Rashford’s MBE for the guarantee one meal a day for school children, the teams’ proactive stance against racism and engagement in LGBTQ+ issues as examples. Gareth has shown such leadership in getting this team to express emotion which helps reduce stigma around mental health. They are people voicing their opinions and advocates of positive change. I have long believed an open and connected team leads to better performance. Selfishly perhaps, I am driven by wanting my four year old son to grow up with ‘icons’ who understand the value of purpose. When he is old enough to work what mother, aunt, uncle, father etc…would not want a child to find a supportive environment they would need to thrive when they grow up?

So imagine how honoured I was to be invited by Garry Turner -the epitome of compassion- to take part in a linkedin live alongside some other really powerful voices in this space – Toni McLelland, Mike Vacanti and David St Martin. We will be discussing the Guardian article further and what it could mean for compassionate leadership and its relationship to organisational effectiveness. It is something this group has researched heavily so it is bound to be insightful.

Wednesday 14th July 2021 13:00 BST log into to Linkedin and click to get a reminder
https://bit.ly/3jWytQz

Whatever the result of the match itself, I do hope you will join us and see what lessons can be learnt wider than football. Fingers crossed for Sunday though!

Take care

Michelle

Shallow (Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga )

As I continue on a self- discovery mission, I have taken a moment to think about how much braver I have been recently in terms of reaching out to discover new networks in the human space; speaking out about things that trouble me and also the recent work I have committed to- particularly the last year- in order to help organisations thrive through compassion for their people.

Sometimes though I can get really wrapped up in what I am doing, that I forget the importance of looking inside to keep a check on what I am doing it for.   This week I bid for some work and I thought to myself: how do I ensure that every piece of work I undertake aligns with my purpose?  It was a question that has haunted me since someone in my network expressed frustration at how many people had disingenuously cashed in on the wellbeing agenda. My colleague felt that- rather than really seeing the vulnerability of those affected- she saw how some organisations had just seen it as an opportunity to exploit the space – especially when she knew that these workplaces did not practice what they preached. That made me sad. I reflected and there and then committed that I never want to put myself at risk of that loss of integrity. In the bid I was writing – and every bid that will follow- I promised myself to include a line that includes my aims and that I would not engage in work that does not meet my ethical principles. I can’t stop people who want to fake authenticity, that is beyond my control but I genuinely do want to achieve some greater good. I would not work in public service otherwise.

Photo by Ricardo Esquivel on Pexels.com

At this point I was reminded of the film ‘ A star is born’ when Bradley Cooper sings to Lady Gaga:


Tell me somethin’, girl
Are you happy in this modern world?
Or do you need more?
Is there somethin’ else you’re searchin’ for?

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga ‘Shallow’

Since having my son who is now 4, I have been thinking so much about how I can protect him from the world he’ll grow up in and the issues like the one above.  I know that I can’t and all I can do is tell him to be really clear about his purpose and not deviate from it whatever that is. I know I worked very hard in my earlier years working on things that in the grand scheme of things weren’t important and provided me with no satisfaction. I was trying to replace the things that were missing in my life (and sometimes missed living it) to often fulfil other egos. Without purpose it was just drifting.  I hope if that happens to my son i’d have the wisdom of Lady Gaga to say:

Tell me something, boy
Aren’t you tired tryna fill that void?
Or do you need more?
Ain’t it hard keepin’ it so hardcore

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga ‘Shallow’

So I may not have done it in my earlier years but now when it comes to my purpose – it is all or nothing:

I’m off the deep end, watch as I dive in
I’ll never meet the ground
Crash through the surface where they can’t hurt us
We’re far from the shallow now

In the sha-ha, sha-hallow
In the sha-ha, sha-la-la-la-low
In the sha-ha, sha-hallow
We’re far from the shallow now

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga ‘Shallow’

Shine bright like a diamond (We’re beautiful like diamonds in the sky)

My exploration of humanity continues and I was just sitting looking at my engagement ring this morning (which I rarely wear as I tend to just wear my wedding ring). I have owned it for nearly 10 years and I was watching the light shimmer off the diamonds within it.  I never tire of it and it made me think about how we are all like diamonds in that we are multi-faceted, we shine and we draw others in and attract attention when we show our inner beauty.

Photo by Danielle De Angelis on Pexels.com

As humans, we all have choices and we can go through some really dark times and I am no exception to that,  but then I think there are also so many wonderful things, people and experiences I have shared moments with… and we can all continue to have those in this lifetime if we allow ourselves.  I think of the lines in Rihanna’s beautiful song (which incidentally played when I took a trip over the Grand Canyon in a helicopter ride for my honeymoon):

‘Shine bright like a diamond, Find light in the beautiful sea
I choose to be happy’

Rihanna ‘Diamonds’

Then I think about the wonderful connections that I have made not only in my personal and spiritual life but also more recently my work-life especially through the HumansFirst network, and other connections linked to that and beyond.  Also I read the posts that my network write and I really feel the human-centredness and the energy and positivity it brings. I am definitely in the right crowd… A bit more Rihanna.

‘At first sight I felt the energy of sun rays
I saw the life inside your eyes’

Rihanna ‘Diamonds’

So my call to action today is ‘shine bright like a diamond’ – don’t let anyone fade your light and find connections that bring out the best of your inner beauty.  Don’t hide it – it is more important than you know.

Let’s get loud

Let’s get Loud. Let’s get Loud

Ain’t nobody gotta tell ya

What you gonna do

If you wanna live your life

Live it all the way and don’t you waste it

Every feeling, every beat

Jennifer Lopez

The best quote i’ve read in recent times in relation to leadership strategy came from Mike Vacanti, Founder of Humans First (and a really insightful author). His message on linkedin was simple ‘stop promoting assholes’. At first it made me chuckle as it was really blunt… but it did get me thinking- what happened to some people in their learning that made them behave so badly – even appallingly in workplaces and then what happened in our societal learning that made that not only an acceptable norm but a promotional criteria? Find me a management structure that does not have that aspect in it. Look at how many look the other way- especially if it is in really senior positions. Then find me a number of people impacted by it -often psychologically. Ask yourself, why is that acceptable? I am lucky I am in a supportive team but that does not mean I should close my eyes to what is happening in the wider business space.

My guilty pleasures during LNB (lockdown netflix binge) at the moment are Cobra Kai and House of Cards. The commonality in both is how early influences good or bad can set the moral compass. Ok it’s fiction (and in Cobra Kai- cheesy at that) but both demonstrate the power of ego especially ego out of control and the destruction is causes. I’ve lost count how many times the reaction to me calling out poor behaviour has led to me branded sensitive- to the extent it damaged me. I may be sensitive but it does not mean the other person isn’t behaving like an asshole right? Luckily I bounce back but I am lucky. The behaviour though that caused the pain was allowed to happen…and I still remember it.

Then I thought can people be rehabilated? My answer to that currently is only if they want to. That takes courage and looking inside yourself. The more important question though is why would they want to? What is the prize/incentive? Would it affect their promotional opportunities if they showed a softer side? Wider society still does not call out the behaviour strongly enough and is addicted to ‘macho’ in all genders. When considering promotional opportunities embedding kindness as an integral need for leadership is still way down the criteria.

But as JLo sang if ‘You’re not hurtin’ anyone, Nobody loses’. Personally i’d rather sleep at night.

So let’s get loud about what is not right in our working environments and keep egos in check by not promoting those that don’t deserve it.

We mustn’t be silent on things that matter. That is my constant reference point. It is not an easy journey but compromising on what is important always leads to suffering somewhere for someone.

Chevalier de Saint – Georges

By Martin Trotman

Hey everyone, I would like to share something with you today. I have an extensive music education background having studied piano and composition at the Birmingham Conservatoire which is essentially a classical institution. Later I went on to lecture and teach at a number of music institutions including South Birmingham College and University of Central England, currently MD at St Johns & St Peters Church, Ladywood. I mention this only to make the point that of all the years spent in music education, sitting in lectures, seminars, recital halls and exams, I’ve never once heard the name Chevalier de Saint – Georges, mentioned! Hopefully I have your attention! Introducing Chevalier de Saint – Georges.

He was a champion fencer, military officer, composer, virtuoso violinist and conductor of a leading Paris symphony of the time. He was also black. I have listened to this man’s music and it’s breathtaking. Unfortunately, a lot of Chevalier’s music was lost during the French Revolution, and what survived was quickly forgotten. However, what we do know is that he composed 3 sets of string quartets, 2 symphonies, 8 symphonie-concertantes, 6 operas, 3 violin sonatas and 14 violin concertos. It is said, Mozart was extremely jealous of Chevalier. The comparison between the two composers is off, says director of music at Shakespeare’s Globe, Bill Barclay “Chevalier was unfairly called the ‘Black Mozart,’ it should have been Mozart the ‘White Chevalier’. I invite you to take a listen to this man’s amazing music! I believe this wonderful music should be included in our music curriculum studies from grass roots to university level. Music was created to be heard not hidden! Thank you for your time. Hit the link below. Enjoy! Black composer series vol 1 Chevalier de Saint – Georges :

Martin Trotman has released an album called ‘Let’s begin’ which can be heard here: https://www.last.fm/music/Martin+Trotman/Let%27s+Begin

‘One Love’ (one life)

It has taken me a while to write on the subject of #blacklivesmatter and the tragic death of George Floyd. I am not going to lie – I went through a rollercoaster of emotions and anxiety about what was the ‘right’ thing to say and do. I was appalled for sure- after all I am a white person who could not relate to what or why that happened- but I absolutely felt pain. I wanted to do ‘something’ but I did not have any lived experience to speak of and whilst i’d been on a journey for some time to try and ‘discover’ what I needed to know – that was a very different world from talking publicly about it. Why that incident – more than any other – affected me to take action I will never know. I am 43, I have known racism has existed for as long as I can remember. It did, however seem to bring about a marked shift at the same time to a lot of people in my position. I can only say the world had simply had enough – and for being so late to the table – I can only apologise profoundly but I have a duty now to keep up the momentum.

I moved however quickly from what can I ‘say’ to what I can do. I called out people who I had regarded as ‘friends’ because their views I found out were different from mine; I became much more vocal about things at work (even for me!) and the more I did this – the braver I became. I am lucky I have some amazing work colleagues who are happy to support and tolerate me learning. One of them said ‘ be brave, not perfect’ and that has stuck with me.

Then I was reminded by one of my favourite songs by U2 ‘One’ (well I prefer the Mary J Blige version) and these words:

One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should

‘One’ U2/Mary J Blige

So, I have a question – if you have children, nieces, nephews, friends with children etc…what world do you want them to grow up in?

I now have an ask – if you want the world to look different – what role will you play?

Vivian Acquah has put together an amazing summit and I am joining her with over 60 speakers to help change the world one voice at a time – I want to be able to say to my son that I did this for his generation and she has the same message. Please click the below and show your support by sharing #amplifyDEI; either liking, retweeting or sharing on your social networks and do think about hearing from some amazing international speakers about equality, diversity and inclusion and what role you can play to bring about one love:

https://bit.ly/334P0Io

yours,

Michelle

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