Editor's Blog

Live simply, Give more, Expect less …and welcome to our guest blogger, Bev Morton

Live simply, Give more, Expect less

I love the thought that wisdom and insight can be found anywhere and imparted by anyone and it regularly feeds my wellbeing as a result. I was recently reading what I had thought of as a ‘mindless’ magazine as a means to ‘empty’ my head. As I turned the page, it read;

Free your mind from worries

Live simply

Give more

Expect less

What wonderful words to inspire and elicit reflection. How short sighted I had been, believing this magazine had nothing to teach me. I now use these lines regularly in my wellbeing and leadership workshops all over the UK.

I first became interested in wellbeing as a founder and leader of an arts and regeneration charity called Artworks Creative Communities

based in Bradford http://www.artworksbradford.org.uk

Over a number of years my wellbeing was being severely knocked out of kilter and I could almost feel the breath of burn out. The opportunity to research wellbeing and leadership came with my Fellowship on the Clore Leadership Programme. The Fellowship gave me time to think, talk, visit, interview, ask questions, reflect, read and fathom out what wellbeing was about and why had it resonated with me so strongly.

‘Adversity is the disguise opportunity wears when it knocks on your door.’

Ababil Sher

I was listening to Ababil talk, an entrepreneur based in Leeds at a business networking event. It occurred to me that working with adversity was at the root of everything I have done in my working life and often the reason for the existence of many charities and social enterprises world wide.

I set up a new company called The Art of Possibility three years ago providing coaching, mentoring, facilitation and mediation services. The work is essentially about how we can put wellbeing at the heart of everything we do for ourselves, our staff and partners, our companies and organisations using a marriage of emotional intelligence and organisational theory. It strikes me that so much of what Tony Butler’s blog speaks of resonates with this theme also;

‘Above all we should consider doing less with less. Consolidating our role as trusted and open institutions which focus on peoples well-being and happiness’

So much of what we do in the cultural sector is about servicing the new baubles of so-called innovation and this often comes to the detriment of the people. This morning I was coaching a client who runs a business with 27 members of staff and a turnover of nearly £1million per annum. She is a highly successful business woman; a founder who has spent the last four days on her bed crying with stress and unable to function. Last week another client spoke of considering suicide she was so fearful of the pressure during this time of great uncertainty.

The knowledge of who we are and how we respond to what is required of us, is key to our leadership. How we manage our intelligences, our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energy are all central to our effectiveness in whatever we do.

Of course, the examples I give here are at the extreme end of the spectrum, but I have a hunch that if we spoke about wellbeing in its broadest sense more in our roles as leaders instead of resilience, we may find there is a rich seam of learning and answers waiting for us.

Perhaps our humanity is where we should begin in our journey of realising a different way of working in the future.


PS…find happiness for daily life here (ed.)

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when the chips are down…

There’s a certain freedom that goes with times of crisis that can be liberating don’t you think? When the chips are more or less down, and it looks like there’s nothing left to lose, (yes, I hear the echo of a song about freedom), it becomes not only possible, but necessary, to think new thoughts and act towards them. Having come from a meeting with the Arts Council to look at how the economic situation is going to play out for us, I realise that such a time is now.

I love cruising blogs and here’s some thoughts form my recent travels…

What would an economy based on no growth look like (given the state of planet earth, is growth essential or desirable)? Tony Butler has quite a fan base and rightly so in my opinion. If you haven’t come across him, visit his blog here and read how he imagines a no-growth economy applied to museums.

Lately I’ve been involved in helping artists set up international visits and taken some vicarious pride in watching at a distance as they set off around the globe thinking diverse cultures and how good this is for us in our small corner in the north east of England. I’ve been worrying I suppose about how such opportunities might be created in the future given that there’ll be so little cash. But there’s another perspective (as always).

Thinking locally might help the planet survive and perhaps artists as meaning makers should be tuned in to this. Claire Antrobus’ blog shows how artists can make both diverse culture and local meaning at the same time.

And again…Black Country Touring, Kali Theatre Company and Birmingham Rep Theatre used webcasting to realise their latest play set in homes across the Black Country.  Behna is a play based in a Punjabi household set the day before a family wedding.

The interesting (to me) thing about this is that six homes hosted the play across the Black Country for their own private guests: of friends, family, neighbours and colleagues. Audiences crammed into kitchens and hallways.

A live webcast was broadcast from a kitchen in Wolverhampton and you could have watched it in your own kitchen, whilst doing henna tattooing and munching Asian delights with friends and family – party ideas provided by a downloadable party pack. You can read more about it on Hannah Rudman’s blog site.

Brilliant. Happy week-end!

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In nature change is prompted when changing is the only way for an organism to maintain itself…

Goodness how does one maintain the will to get up in the morning and face the news – threats on every front whether it’s the continuation of your winter fuel payment that’s in doubt or the fact that like us at ARD, you aren’t in the front line of delivering cultural activity – you’re a back room gal and an alternative source of income (to one that comes from our taxes) might be in order.

It would be easy to lose heart when there’s so much to complain about.

But here’s a thing – in nature change is prompted when changing is the only way for an organism to maintain itself. I found that arresting and prescient line in a recently published report by MMM: The People Theme.

Thank you, thank you MMM for lightening my day.

I like a challenge and especially one that’s driven by the thought that we’re in changing times and changing times mean we need a new paradigm for defining and measuring success. Yey, at last! Thriving – that thing arts organisations are supposed to be doing – needs to be done in a life friendly way: i.e. based less on demonstrating instrumental value and arguing the case for public money and more on recognising the essential interdependence of human economies and natural eco-systems.  They call to the arts to offer leadership in designing the transition to a more sustainable world that in recognising the limits of our finite planet, enables all life to flourish – now there’s a mission.

What gets me up in the morning is having a sense of purpose so no wonder MMM do it for me…and now back to thinking on how all this might impact on the little ship ARD.

How can we help?

Borrowing from the MMM matrix that names the qualities, qualities and attirbutes for thriving people, we can work in the spaces that describe different perspectives, and navigate complexity. We can help scan the environment and make connections, and we can question assumptions, revealing  impact from many perspectives. We can focus on solutions and we can aid reflection.

In creating the pie apparently, it’s co-operation that works, ( we compete when it comes to dividng it up) and in that spirit and in preparation for the next issue, we’re looking for reports of work that shed light on co-operation, co-opetition, collaboration, and life friendly approaches – if you can signpost us If you have a view to share, please post it!

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