Place, experience, identity and belonging

//Place, experience, identity and belonging

Connections are strange things – they seem to come out of nowhere, but have importance to us and how we lead others.  A few weeks ago three unrelated things happened a few days apart that triggered me to recall two unrelated memories from my childhood. These stimulated some useful reflections on our behaviour as professionals and in which boat we should be. I attended a session on the use of multiple senses and poetry to influence perception at the ILA conference. I also attended a session on the power of place at that same conference on the same day. The following day, I went for a reflective walk around the Boston Common.

Whilst on this walk I recalled my enjoyment of the poem “Hist” as a child, which I also shared with my own children when they were in primary school. The poem describes a fearful journey at night “a mile or so across the Possum Park” (which as child I thought was Boston Park) and how terrified they were during the journey. Once nearing the other side and coming into the light again, their fear evaporated and their stories changed to how brave they were and how exciting the journey was. This stimulated me to think how often we don’t take that courageous journey out of fear. We don’t get on board that unknown boat to “somewhere else”, especially in a time when perceptions of risk kill many ideas before they can grow sufficient strength to survive attack by the change resistant power brokers eager to preserve their control and interests.

Updating that old poem to suit our current context might look like:
(with apologies to and inspiration from CJ Dennis)

Hist….. Hark,
The journey seems so dark
We SHOULD tread a new track across an unknown park
Step right, lead like you might
With egos aside and open minds
Deliver us into the light
Let’s together embark on an uncertain journey that takes us to a better place using all the knowledge we have and embrace the “sacrifices” this may entail. Because if we do not do so, the sacrifices will be much worse (and are already visible to those who CAN SEE). Please do not be afraid of the dark. Look for the inspiration and confidence that comes from leading by example and accepting that we must act for the future, whilst retain the best of what we already know (and this is not western dominated short term thinking!) The planet needs and is ready for true “advanced leadership”. Are you in the boat or on the bank?

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Arthur Shelley

Arthur is collaborative leader who engages stakeholders to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes. His professional success record spans over 30 years of experience across the international corporate, government and tertiary education sectors. Internationally recognised as a knowledge and capability development thought leader, equipped with a diversity of skills and achievements including being the author of two books, a regular international conference speaker, award winning tertiary teacher and a volunteer student mentor and career advisor. Creator and leader of the Organizational Zoo Ambassador Network, an international association of professionals interested in sharing and innovative application of metaphor based behavioural learning and development to improve personal and team outcomes and build relationships.

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