Posts Tagged "changemaking"

Message 2 from Slow to changemakers: proximal stability before distal mobility

Posted on Dec 9, 2013 | 0 comments

Message 2 from Slow to changemakers: proximal stability before distal mobility

“Proximal stability before distal mobility” means that for an organism to create motion at the extremities of its system, it must first have a stable core. I came across this notion as a therapist. As an example, this would be applied when determining and working on hand writing difficulties; often the culprit would be an under-performing core. I’ve been thinking about this saying recently on the individual level in relation to a few of my favourite activities. I fell in love with rock climbing earlier this year. Straight away I was struck by how instructive rock climbing is in regards to change and stressful situations. Climbing is a rhythmic pattern of centre and move, centre and move. You must mentally and physically balance and yourself before executing a move, otherwise fear, distraction or poor balance will literally be your downfall. As a contrasting example, consider coping with change. Feeling stable in yourself reduces feelings of stress when there is a lot of change on the external environment and improves resilience. You can adapt and take advantage of change. Now consider being a changemaker where the ‘mobility’ we’re talking about is being able to act upon the outside world.  Here I consider there three main lessons about proximal stability. Firstly, when you are proposing changes it is vital that other people trust you. People who are authentic, whose behaviours are aligned to who they really are, engender trust. We can sense when what people are saying is incongruent with values they reflect but also I think this sensing of incongruence also occurs even when those doing the talking are not even consciously trying to represent themselves in a false way. People sense authenticity, so don’t just think you mean what you say, know you mean what you say. Seondly, as social creatures, we all to some extent have developed ways to routinely suppress non-conforming behaviours which risk social rejection. This is wise in certain settings but it also means that we can get in the habit of avoiding individual thought without even realising it. I was very impressed by Gretel Killeen at the 2013 Happiness and Its Causes Conference when she spoke about finding and using your authentic voice. She made that point that how can you even speak your mind when you don’t know what is in it? We need to be aware of our tendencies for suppressing authenticity and actively work at cultivating it, starting from discovering who you really are. Lastly, it will sometimes take bravery to be authentic. When advocating something other than status quo, you will find your detractors. This Machiavelli quote sums it up: “There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.” A powerful point Killeen made was, “There are people in the world who struggled in order to speak their minds and paid a huge price for it. We, on the other hand, forfeit our chance to think and speak.” Worth contemplating as we honour Nelson Mandela after his passing. So be brave! There is no other you on this planet, so please, give us your uniqueness and take a risk for what you believe in. Out tendency to conform also goes back to the first point on trust. Why do we not use our voice and instead conform? She says, “…maybe we are just scared of what others think of us if we speak our minds. By presenting a perfect image of ourselves, we hide our true...

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Message 1 from Slow to changemakers: happier, healthier changemakers are more effective

Posted on Dec 1, 2013 | 0 comments

Message 1 from Slow to changemakers: happier, healthier changemakers are more effective

As I mentioned in my post on how I got to Slow, one of my first big lessons that still echoes inside my head is the importance of being good to yourself in order to be of any use to the rest of the world. I have identified a number of ways in which the Slow movement can help a changemaker become more effective. I will present these in a series of posts. The lesson about taking care of yourself is so important that I have noted this to myself multiple times in various ways. This makes me think that it is likely a hard lesson to learn for many people driven to create change; their passion is a strength but also an Achilles heel. A burnt-out shell of a person is no good to anyone. I wonder if even changemakers who acknowledge the complexity of the problem situations they are working with still succumb to our fast culture’s need for immediacy. Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time so make sure are armed with good physical and mental health. Slow & physical health Research shows that our model of work, work, work Monday to Friday then take a weekend or a few weeks holiday every year, is not ideal to help the body and mind rest and rejuvenate. We need short, consistent bursts of rest and relaxation and also honour our natural, longer rhythms by having deeper periods of rejuvenation on a weekly, monthly, seasonal, annual basis. We are no longer accustomed to letting ‘time heal all wounds.’ We want the quick fix to our ailments; in pill form, please. In one session we expect a manual therapist to fix our back we have spent years neglecting. Slow Medicine is emerging, which Carl Honore describes as ‘taking time to work out the root cause of ailments; learning what we can from the patient; taking a holistic approach to traditional forms of medicine; marrying medical treatment with wider changes in lifestyle; and treating the mind and body together.’ Slow & mental health Happiness is crucial to the effectiveness of a changemaker. Research shows that happiness drives performance far more than performance drives happiness. When you are optimistic and experiencing positive emotion your peripheral vision is wider so you are more likely to notice things, your brain is more creative (conversely, stress inhibits creativity) and resourceful and performance at intuitive problem solving improves. Dopamine increases which gives you motivation to take action. Lets look briefly at PERMA, the most recent framework for understanding happiness from the Grandfather of positive psychology, Martin Seligman. This framework offers five key ingredients for lasting happiness. P = position emotion. Human beings are hardwired to err to the negative (which is useful in avoiding risk but not great for our happiness). To experience greater levels of positive emotion, we may need to actively work against this tendency. This is a massive topic but one of the more fascinating findings is that mindfulness increases positive emotion more than daydreaming about the future, even when the activity you’re being present to is something you don’t like!! By being more present we are more able to take pleasure in the small stuff. Another relevant Slow idea is taking time for reflection and contemplative practices. By going within ourselves we decouple from the constant barrage of information from the outside world. This decoupling is an essential characteristic of a resilient organism. Take time daily to notice the great stuff that happened to you. A simple, effective and well-researched technique I do is write down 3 things I am...

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