“Seeing the wood for the trees”


I felt compelled to write this blog the day after #WorldMentalHealthDay2017 (having had an episode myself last year I wanted to reflect on the stories I read yesterday) and on the day that I shall be interviewed by @CIPD  as to my thoughts as to how effective the apprenticeship levy could be used to help turn the tide of underinvestment in the development of our people.

With so much ‘noise’ in society today, heavily fuelled by the fact that literally everybody now has an unfiltered voice hidden behind social media accounts, makes it very difficult to have what I will call a ‘debate.’  X was right or Y was wrong – no middle ground, which is further reinforced by technology (algorithms) sending what you want to hear directly into your brain and not a lot else.

As of 3 days ago I was really struggling to believe, that we as a global society, could come back from the downward spiral of negativity, infighting, fake news et al.  I could not see the wood for the trees.

Today however I feel resolute. Why?

I have had three very impactful experiences within the past few days that have reinforced my beliefs that there are solutions with much of it being societal led:

1)      The pleasure of being part of one of the most interesting, challenging and forward looking twitter discussions to date, led by @_Future_Leaders around #LeadersHour: Which key competencies should be fostered through learning/ education during primary/ secondary school?

https://storify.com/srjf/leadershour-59dc7dd5308ea84780413cb3 – the summary of this amazing chat can be found within this Storify kindly created by @srjf

2)      Attended Richard Gervers @richardgerver talk on “Clarity” as organised by @LBFEvents


Richard worked in education for many years, turning around a failing school in Derbyshire previously.  He is an eloquent, engaging speaker with a deep passion and humility for the importance of education and clarity.

Some key quotes and reflections that I felt worth sharing are:

  • “You are not hiring anyone below age of 5 – ~70% of what we learn in our life has happened before we are aged 5” – as such we need to be supporting and developing our children’s widest possible view of life from very early on which links well to the #breakingbias project below
  • “When did you last sit in a field of grass and just think?”
  • we just “keep digging and digging, faster and faster” – our organisations are setting us up to fail by operating with such pace and pressure (reactive), but with little time for reflection and growth (proactive)
  • I feel that we could also frame the above as extreme reactivity = fear based compared with growth mind-set = freedom
  • In education, teachers can say “nobody takes risks” yet they take no risks themselves (lack of role modelling at times) – however how much of that is down to government pressure – reactivity (fear) to hit targets?
  • “The older we get, the more we see the obstacles” – “look out for the buildings in other peoples minds-really key reference here to understanding other peoples fears” – This is a really powerful reflection for me personally and I always think back to my @WorldBlu The Power Question workshop as this process helps us help others be aware of what this buildings may look like
  • “Parkour is not a sport, it is a mindset” – In discussion Richard emphasised that the head of Parkour was adamant that it is not a sport, it is a mindset. Too often we are employed to ‘do a job’ and that the creative mind that we all have is locked in a box and the key thrown away

3)      Seen the power of community coming together with the first virtual meeting of the #breakingbias project team

Following a recent #Hackathon a number of newly found colleagues have developed a project, that is fully crowd sourced, to help combat bias at both new-born and adolescents ages.

This is still very early stage but if anybody is interested to be involved, please do let me know and I will send you a Slack invite.  The initial interest and support offered is totally inspiring – momentum is now the key

Common themes/take-aways

  • The media is out of control, more than ever before, and MUST start balancing its fear-based agenda with stories of positivity, hope and optimism

There is a lot of good in the world as evidenced by some of the above and below xamples – lets celebrate these and show that collaborative humanity is indeed trying to make a comeback

  • That there are a LOT of really inspiring, large scale and grass roots movements going on concurrently right now, few to none of which are making headlines e.g Global Goals, #breakingbias, Enterprise Advisors, Global Citizen, Future Leaders, Collaborate Out Loud, LearnConnectDo, the list goes on and on top we can add the diverse range of other, more traditional volunteering into the mix

Together these movements represent the best of humanity and somehow, we need society at large to be made aware of them all, joining the ones that most align with their own purpose

  • We as citizens can no longer sit on the side-lines waiting for someone else to make our schools, our communities, our society better. WE have to take more affirmative action, take more accountability – truly start making a difference from the grass roots up

We can help others see the wood for the trees and they can help us to do the same.

Together, as a society, we are so much stronger and I urge a call to action that we all start thinking as one, and not as individualistic, disparate parts of an imploding world.

That just cannot be the path we take.  We need to see the wood for the trees.

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