December 14, 2017

What I took away from the Gerard Kelly tribute

Gerard KellyTotal commitment was key to his success. Glaswegian actor Gerard Kelly put everything into what he did. He was versatile too, playing a great range of roles. Gone too soon.

What is the source of Aung San Suu Kyi’s peaceful power?

Picture of Aung San Suu KyiHow is it that the Burmese generals with access to so much military might fear Aung San Suu Kyi – a slight 65-year woman? OK, so their fear has diminished enough for her to be released, for the moment anyway, but still she enjoys tremendous popular support at home and abroad. Why?

And how is this relevant to the more mundane?

Joseph Jaworski has something to say about this in his book Synchronicity, where he quotes Francisco Varela (coauthor of The Tree of Knowledge and The Embodied Mind) in talking of “a commitment that can only come from someone who has changed his (or her) stance from resignation to possibility. We need to learn how to internalize that capacity.” Varela went on: “When we are in touch with our ‘open nature’, our emptiness, we exert an enormous attraction to other human beings. There is great magnetism in that state of being which has been called ‘authentic presence’.”

Jaworski adds that Varela warned “There is great danger if we consider these people to be exceptional. They are not. This state is available to us all.”

We frequently think of commitment as being to do with level of effort, about how much we do. Jaworski makes clear that he learned commitment is more about being – a choice of state.

So Aung San Suu Kyi’s authentic presence is as potent as the Burmese generals’ military might – a principle as relevant to the everyday as to the achievement of democracy in a benighted country.

As the comittee chairman for the Nobel Peace Prize said “an outstanding example of the power of the powerless” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-11685977.

There ain’t no magic bullets

Scottish Parliament ChamberGreat discussion with the team from Unipart led by John Neill, Group Chief Executive of the Unipart Group of Companies at the Business in the Parliament conference in Edinburgh (12 November 2010). John talked about the benefits of a largely employee-owned businesses making learning and development choices for the medium to long term, rather than to meet the short term pressures of the City.

The success of the “Unipart Way” is based on engaging people and taking them on learning journey.  Only 15% of our people are engaged, on average. Meanwhile we have a large productivity “gap” in both the private and public sectors, which, if closed even partly, would completely compensate for the forthcoming reductions in public spending.

Do we need a crisis to get change started? Not necessarily, according to John. Most important thing is to set out a compelling vision of how things can be. To influence others not yet on the journey, show them a working model. That overcomes the difficulty of understanding thing we are being told rather than shown.

Success take practice. An orchestra depends on the 10,000+ hours of work of the individual musicians (see Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers) to play Beethoven’s Ninth (or any other great work). So it is with other organisations. High performance needs a commitment to learning and effort applied to practice.

There ain’t no magic bullets.