Posts Tagged "relationships"

Leadership lessons from Nepal earthquake

Posted on Aug 19, 2015 | 0 comments

Leadership lessons from Nepal earthquake

True crisis situations are fabulous at cutting away the cloud of things that just don’t matter. Like a crucible, things are boiled down to essentials. A few months ago I followed my intuition to Nepal. Our group was in the remote and sacred Tsum valley near the border of Tibet when the earthquake hit on April 25. Although the area was close to the epicentre we were fortunate to be walking in a place where the valley widened out and all 20 of us were unharmed away from the danger of rock falls or landsides. Watching avalanches and boulders being flung off the dramatic Himalaya while feeling the ground wave under our feet was an experience that literally shakes you to your core. We were then stuck for 8 days until a helicopter came to take us back to Kathmandu; a time which provided it’s own challenges in terms of not knowing how our families were feeling and uncertainty over how or when we would be rescued. I felt truly blessed for many reasons, and one of those reasons was the incredible lessons that the earthquake experience provided. A particular interest of mine in to do with leadership and profound systems change. We were provided with a shining example of leadership in the form of a Tsum local and mountain guide, Dhawa. Dhawa owns the guesthouse in the tiny village we ended up in after the earthquake was over. He happened to be walking up the valley with a couple of clients towards this village when the quake happened, in a bad part of the trail. Dhawa literally saved their lives by pulling one of them out of the way of falling rocks and keeping them both moving to safer ground. He described to me later that in the moment he thought of his own family and felt a conflict between trying to maximise his own chances of survival by getting out of there as quickly as possible in order to be there for his family and taking more personal risk to help his clients. His sense of duty and attitude of service won out. After that ordeal he arrives at his guesthouse and finds the 20 of us waiting there, having not yet worked out what we were going to do with ourselves. The village we were aiming to stay in that night had been completely destroyed. Without hesitation he began making preparations for temporary shelter under a large tarp in the horse paddock and mattresses and blankets were hauled out. No one knew if the buildings were stable and aftershocks kept coming. We were fed from the tiny kitchen despite the limited stocks in the pantry with no guarantee of replenishment in the near future. His impact on the group was immediate and palpable. As he started speaking to us we circled around. He cut through the stress and confusion with a welcome groundedness, calm and presence. As the initial drama of the earthquake event itself subsided, a different kind of stress emerged. Uncertainty and lack of control. It took two days to find a phone that we could use to make international phone calls, so no one knew where we were for a while. We also could not receive consistent communication from the outside world so it was difficult getting a clear picture of the situation: could we walk down, if not, how would we get helicopters here, what were the embassies doing, what was the situation in Kathmandu even if we could get back by helicopter, would embassies pick up people from other countries (there...

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7 Reasons Why You Should Hug a Stranger

Posted on Feb 13, 2014 | 0 comments

7 Reasons Why You Should Hug a Stranger

Slow emphasises connection between people. This can be pretty straight-forward and obvious in the context of verbal exchanges; for example being quiet long enough to hear what someone else has to say and really listen. But human beings establish connection with each other primarily non-verbally. ‘Free Hugs’, a social play activity where you offer hugs to strangers in the street is not only fun, but also amazingly instructive in how we connect with others. Not only that, hugging and laughter are wonderful tools for healing and overcoming loneliness, depression and stress. Our fast-paced modern life threatens such practices by encouraging disconnection. Slow seeks to address this. Here are 7 reasons why you should take part in Free Hugs: 1. Oxytocin Hugs 20 seconds or more spark release of the hormone oxytocin. Dubbed ‘the bonding hormone,’ oxytocin also lowers blood pressure, reduces inflammation and protects the heart. 2. Practice skills in non-verbal communication and forming connection It doesn’t take long participating in free hugs before you learn that even though the sign says ‘free hugs’, the invitation to join in a hug is largely non-verbal. It becomes a game seeing how to entice people into a hug just using your facial and body expressions. Psychologist and best-selling author of Love 2.0, Barbara Fredrikson, says that there are two preconditions to such micro-moments of connection: that people feel safe and that there is a real-time sensory connection. 3. Get used to discomfort One of the most valuable things you can do for yourself to help you embrace your dreams and lead a fuller life is to get used to doing things that initially make you feel discomfort. Hugging a stranger may not come naturally (it didn’t for me) but discomfort is a sign of potential to change. Embrace it (literally in this case). 4. Realise what a difference you make to others just by shifting your intention  Positive emotion is more contagious than negative emotions. Giving free hugs you really see how easy it is to change someone’s day, even if they take a bit of encouragement to get over an initial negative reaction to your invitation. Take this as a lesson for how to improve relationships at home and work; even when you are finding someone’s behaviour challenging, focussing on increasing positive emotion between you provides practical payoff in the form of less hassle, more allies and more job satisfaction. 5. Play Our ability to learn is enhanced when we are in play. Plus it’s fun, you get an endorphin rush and stress levels are lowered (your parasympathetic nervous system is engaged). 6. Empathy and understanding Empathy is ridiculously important to our personal relationships but also to the functioning of global society! Practice it and you will soon find yourself in amazement at how much more you see in people. In the brief exchanges you have with people during free hugs, stereotypes and pre-conceived ideas are swept away as you realise that there is more to everyone than meets the eye. Even those who turn down your hugs leave you feeling compassion for them because you know they are the ones who would benefit the most and you start to see them as a more whole human being. Hugging also builds trust, a sense of safety and open and honest communication – see how well hugging creates a healthy society? 7. Make someone else happy And you become happier too. Hugging raises serotonin levels. Sign up for The Slow Project Newsletter Email Address* First Name Last Name * = required...

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