RECLAIM-ing leadership

9 11 2015

I think for leadership positions, emotional intelligence is more important than cognitive intelligence. People with emotional intelligence usually have a lot of cognitive intelligence, but that’s not always true the other way around. 

— John Mackey, C-founder & CEO of Whole Foods

RECLAIM is a Manchester-based youth leadership charity set up in 2007 with a bold aim to end leadership inequality within a generation.  Their flagship programme, LEAD identifies young  leaders and helps them develop their skills so that they go on and engage their local community or find work. Big Change is working with RECLAIM to build on their experience and extend their impact to national scale.

 

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Mind vs Body: beauty not perfection

1 07 2015

Walk No.30 – Still striving to adopt a growth mindset

All I need is to adopt a growth mindset I tell myself.

I’ve completed 30 walks since I first started preparing for my big hike across Scotland–my hike toward BIG CHANGE. Over the last 6 weeks I’ve walked around 300km of London streets in my boots.

While I’m slightly more confident about hiking the first 70km over 2 days, the thought of having to push my aching body up 1,344 metres on the 3rd day to the top of Ben Nevis makes me physically ill with anxiety.

For comfort I try to remember back to my days as a dancer when my feet looked something like this:

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Physical states influence mental states. Mental states influence physical states. Not sure why philosophers continue to argue over which statement is true. They are both so very true.

When i train, my mind and body are continuously in dialogue. The dialogue first begins over the issue of boredom: My mind feels it is wasting time–if only I could be putting my mind towards something more productive than walking.

Then I begin to feel pain in my thighs, in my lower back, in the sore soles of my feet. I try to distract my mind away from thinking about my body by solving equations in my head. This only lasts so long before my focus returns to my body. I become conscious of my wobbly knees and the cramp in my side.

Why was I able to endure the pain of dancing on bruised toes and sprained ankles all those years ago? Why is this walking business so hard?

I continue to walk and wonder a bit more and walk and wonder a bit  more. Today there are no podcasts or music playlists to listen to. It’s just me, my body and my mind.

Once more I feel the weight of my body slowing down my stride and my mind begins playing tricks on me. First my mind calmly tells my body that it’s okay to stop for a rest. But when my body doesn’t listen to my mind, my mind gets angry and tells my body that training is futile, that i will never make it across the highlands, that it will all just end in heap of embarrassment–why try if you know you will fail?! my mind shouts at me in desperation.

The fragments of my self argue all the way home.

What am I striving for? What will success mean? What is the goal? Am I striving for myself or for others? Am I striving for some ideal of perfection? What will it mean if I succeed? What will it mean if I fail? With only a week to go, I am committed to the idea that I do not know for certain the answer to these questions–that the journey itself will help answer these questions.

For now all I know for certain is that I am striving for big change in whatever form that takes. That I am striving for a metamorphosis.

When I danced I danced for the love of dance. On the one hand, the gesture of raising my leg high above my head was an intended action, consciously willed and controlled; my mind was aware of the complex kinaesthetic sensations of each of my actions. On the other hand, I was equally unconscious when I danced, almost possessed by the vibrations of sound channeling through my body.

The point is that when I danced, my mind was not separate from my body. When I danced I was not fragmented. My parts were all extensions of each other. The phenomenal experience was an experience of wholeness. My mind and my body were joined through my spirit–through my love of dance.

I have 8 more days to work on integrating my mind with my body. I am searching for that sense of wholeness. Doing my best to remove my bias view of the hike as a purely physical feat–as an ambition of the body.

I need to see this hike as art.  As a collective work of art. A collective ambition to manifest beauty–not perfection.

Beauty of shared will and collective consciousness built upon a determination to unearth what Big Change means to us as individuals and for society.

A determination to pool communal resources of mind, body and sprit in order to unlock as much creative thought as possible over three intense and emotional days.

Yes, this is what it’s all about. I’m already starting to feel better about it all.

60 artists will walk together across the highlands in search of wholeness. 60 disruptors. 60 big-changers.

Some will be more fit than others but this is irrelevant. in fact, this is what make’s it an artistic endeavour.

So I will strive for this. For art and for wholeness in the highlands.

——

I would of course be extremely grateful for any financial resources to support the work we are doing at Big Change. Funds raised through the STRIVE Challenge 2015 will be used to support amazing organisations and initiatives that have the potential to shape the future of young people across the UK. Big Change has a fundamental belief in the UK’s young people. They’re our priority, our passion, and our inspiration. And everything we do is designed to help them be the very best version of themselves. Helping them rise above and beyond their circumstances, and giving them the opportunity, motivation and courage to see the positive differences they can make for themselves, for others, and for their community. Whether it be helping young people learn about teamwork, communication, relationships, or giving them an opportunity to improve their emotional wellbeing and physical health, the money raised will support projects that focus on helping young people develop a growth mindset and strive in their own lives.

YOU CAN DONATE BY CLICKING BELOW:

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=NikiBB





BIG CHANGE: What will you do to change the world?

7 06 2015

  

           





UNEARTHING in Kings Cross

15 05 2015

 

The folks at Global Generation developed a methodology based around the three territories of ‘I, We and the Planet’ providing space for people to increase awareness of self, to connect to each other and to connect to the natural world. There are many different ways that you can get involved, whether it be volunteering, doing an internship, visiting the garden, eating at the cafe, hiring out the space for your own party or coming to one of our events. For more information, see here: http://www.globalgeneration.org.uk/ Contactgenerate@globalgeneration.org.uk

They also support wider outreach work with schools and adults who want to learn about how to teach the “story of our universe” to young people as a catalyst for positive environmental and social change.http://www.universestory.org.uk/

                                    

 

 

 





Striving for change, BIG CHANGE

7 05 2015

So there I lie on the plateau, under me the central core of fire from which was thrust this grumbling grinding mass of plutonic rock, over me blue air, and between me the fire of the rock and the fire of the sun, scree, soil and water, moss, grass, flower and tree, insect, bird and beast, wind, rain and snow – the total mountain.
– Nan Shepherd, The Living Mountain

——-

I like to walk.
And I like to talk.
But walking and talking at the same time?
When I talk,
I like to sit.
And I like to drink.
And I like to smoke.

If I do any exercise at all, it involves a short sprint from my car to the school gates. This has been the case for nearly a decade. I love dancing (and used to do lots of it back in the day) but one doesn’t really dance and talk. And the only walking and talking I do currently is at a snails pace with my children, articulating any combination of: hurry-up, we’re late! don’t pick that up, it’s dirty! you’ll be okay, let me kiss your knee and make it all better.

But recently, something shifted inside me. I think I’m under the spell of Big Change.

It’s called Strive! they explained excitedly during my first visit to their offices. We walk the equivalent of two marathons across the Scottish highlands over two days, and on the third day we climb Ben Nevis!

We will be a group of 60 to 100 change-makers. You know, those people who inspire, those who use their creativity to influence change across a variety of sectors for young people here in the UK. We will be a mix of educators, artists, policy-makers, entrepreneurs—and we will all be walking and talking; basically brainstorming new ideas for change as we climb, as we strive, up the highest mountain the British Isles have gifted us.

I listened attentively, trying to control my left eyebrow from twitching.

What an amazing challenge, I thought to myself and then my mind drifted as I began to picture this group of super-charged, super-fit, smiling young explorers, dressed in cool looking mountain gear, all standing proudly at the top of Ben Nevis. A flag waving wildly with bright beautiful words:

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Yes, I thought to myself, this is what we need; more people like this striving for change.

And then they smiled back at me and waited politely for me to speak.

Fabulous, what an extraordinary challenge, I said. Let me know what I can do to help—I do know some big changers who might just be physically strong enough, and ambitious enough, to take part.

Well actually, we’d like you to participate in the walk, twinkle-eyed-Essie explained, grinning from cheek to cheek.

Very funny, I responded. Believe me, walking and talking is not my thing.

And that was that. A conversation that was had toward the end of February, at a time when London was still holding tightly onto winter.

But then the cherry blossoms bloomed pink.

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And I attended my first Holi festival, in celebration of colour. I danced with my daughters and gave thanks for spring, for the changing of seasons and the reincarnations that are possible even among the living.

 

And then a little Easter bunny arrived and my daughters named her Ginger—I took that as a sign that my roots needed some stirring.

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And if that wasn’t enough, one of my brothers gave me this book. He gently told me that I—that all of us—were born to run…

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In 9 weeks time a group of Big Changers will take to the hills.
And the simple truth is, I want to be with them.

It’s all about developing a growth mind-set, they tell me.

A growth mind-set? Okay, well let’s see.

I wonder if they’ll let me bring a flask for my whiskey?

——————————-

Inspiring reads at the start of this journey:

Nan Shepherd’s manuscript of The Living Mountain was written during the Second World War and lay untouched for more than thirty years before it was finally published.
http://www.canongate.tv/the-living-mountain-paperback-29.html

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall is full of incredible characters, amazing athletic achievements, cutting-edge science and pure inspiration. An epic adventure that began with one simple question: Why does my foot hurt? http://knopfdoubleday.com/2009/05/05/born-to-run-by-chris/