Yesterday morning, as part of my work with the NHS THRIVE to Keep Well programme that we’re piloting in this area, we were thrilled to bring together a number of training and employability partners to advise the participants of the many opportunities that were available to them at whatever level they wanted to be. We set up a Covid safe exhibition area at Camelon Community Centre and the participants were free to chat with the staff from these organisations. We also had some craft activities to help them relax and have something else to do while they either plucked up the courage to go and speak, or reflected on the information they’d been given.
There were many highlights for me in this event. Firstly, I’d forgotten how great it is to actually be in a room with various partners. Covid has taken so much from us over recent times and while I admit that this is one of the more frivolous matters, it was still really good to experience again. Even the partners really valued being able to share and network with each other face to face (behind masks and appropriately distanced of course). And even with the safety measures in place, glancing around the room and hearing the chatter brought feelings of some kind of normality coming back again.
My second highlight was seeing the participants engaging with the partner agencies and getting meaningful, personal advice for their next steps. They were initially nervous but once one of them stepped forward, the others soon followed and the conversations began to flow. Considering the various journeys the participants have been on over the last 13 weeks, this was so heart-warming to see. This is one of the key things that drives me in this job – supporting local people to get the right information, advice and direction to move towards whatever a positive destination looks like for them individually. This is not a one size fits all support. I really do want to get it right for every person.
My final highlight, was the feedback from the partner agencies. All of them spoke of how they quickly got a sense of the progression that the participants had made while being on this programme. They also commented on the genuine desire from the participants to continue this forward movement in the best way possible for them, whether that be more training courses, volunteering, or moving into work. While my fellow facilitators and I can see this for ourselves, it was so good to hear from others – it makes this so worthwhile.
So my thanks to 4 The Benefit of All, Cyrenians (Arnotdale House), Employment and Training Unit, Workers Educational Association, and CVS/Volunteer Falkirk for giving up their morning to come along and support our amazing participants. My hope is that early in the New Year, restrictions will allow us to do a larger event with these partners so more of you can benefit. As they say, watch this space! In the meantime, if you need any support with accessing training or employability support, or are looking to get into volunteering or even a job, then do get in touch and I’ll help and signpost you as appropriate for you. Contact details are below.
Is it something that is done to you? Something you can learn to do? Or something you grow within yourself, for yourself?
Your view on those questions could determine whether or not you’re going to like this blog!
Empowerment has become a real buzz word of late. It’s the new big thing in so many circles of life but especially in community work. But have we all understood it properly or are some of us using it as a way around things? Will it make your project look better if you talk about empowerment. If you give this opportunity/activity/programme/facility/building to the community you’ll be empowering them. It’s time to think again.
I promised myself that this blog would not become a rant and I will stick to that, but you’ll maybe pick up the sentiment in that last paragraph as a sense of my feelings. So let me be very clear. Just passing something on to a community or individual is not empowering them. It is passing the buck and potentially, setting them up to fail.
So what really is this empowerment thing. Quite simply, it can only be done to you, by you. No one else can empower you and while we’re on it, no else has the right to dis-empower you. You, as an individual have to feel empowered. And that comes by increasing the control you have over your own life. People can help you to do that, but ultimately you are the only person who can empower you. So, if you’re sitting there waiting to be empowered – STOP! Start working at feeling empowered.
It has been said that this empowerment thing is about what matters to you, not what is the matter with you. Can you hear the difference there? This is about your desires, not your issues. Cormac Russell, Managing Director of Nurture Development and the oracle on Asset Based Community Development that I’ve spoken of many times before, says it is about “what you have, rather than what you don’t have – what you can contribute rather than what you can receive.” He says this is about individuals using their head, hearts, hands etc – their talents, skills and passions. So in other words, rather than sitting back and waiting for others to do things around you, what can you do to contribute? It may not be huge and it doesn’t have to be, but as a place you probably know well says regularly: “Every little helps”.
One crucial point I need to make here. We often see government – both local council and national government – doing what communities can do. Cormac Russell simply says “get out of the way and let [the community] do it, but resource them where necessary – don’t just pull out without checking they can actually do it sustainably.” So this brings me back to my point earlier. Those who think they are in positions of authority (Maff Potts of Camerados reminds me that we are all in authority) should not just think they can walk away and leave communities to get on with stuff. They need to check that the skills exist in the community. That the desire, longevity and sustainability can be found in the community. Where support is needed – provide it, whether that be in person or financially. Where guidance is needed – supply it either directly or through signposting and partnership. Where things are needed to be brought up to a workable standard before they can be passed on – do whatever is needed.
This all centres around stuff I’ve been banging on about for ages. Work with communities. Work alongside individuals. Involve people.
So how can you begin to feel this empowerment for yourself? Well that’s a very good question and one that I would love to help you answer because the process and destination will be very different for each one of you. Would you let me have the honour of sitting with you to help you find answers to the questions you are posing, and help you to begin to feel empowered within yourself and move further towards your potential? How do we do this? I’m glad you asked! Contact me about 1 to 1 coaching sessions and I will tell you all you need to know. For now, there’s some info through that link and on the flyer below. I look forward to working alongside you in this.
In my blog last week, I invited you to join the Community Revolution. But what does this really mean? Can you, members of the community, actually make a difference? Quite simply – YES!! Let’s explore this a little further
What I love about working in Community Development is the ability to be alongside local people and help them to make a real difference on their streets. To help them gain new skills, try new things, meet people just down the street who they’d never met before, fix issues, start new projects and so much more.
Our friends at the Scottish Community Development Centre (SCDC) have put together a great piece that explains Community Development in 60 seconds. You can see it here.
They explain that “Community development is a process where people come together to take action on what’s important to them.” Read that statement again and notice the key emphasis. People – you – come together. People – you – take action.
As community, we cannot rely on external bodies to do everything for us. This is not the place to argue whether they should be or not – we all have our views and probably agree on a lot but we don’t have time to banter that topic right now. It is worth noting however that those of you living in Tamfourhill (Ward 7 – Falkirk South) have the opportunity right now to challenge those wanting to be elected to serve in the bi-election next month. Ask them how they will help the community actually develop and how they will work alongside you. (All of you will get that opportunity next May when all council seats are up for grabs).
Aside of that, if you see an issue and instantly think that someone else will sort it, have you ever wondered if you might be the “someone else”? Could you be the person that steps up and makes a difference? SCDC suggest (and I agree) that there are 4 principles that are the foundation of Community Development:
Self-determination – people and communities have the right to make their own choices and decisions.
Empowerment – people should be able to control and use their own assets and means to influence.
Collective action – coming together in groups or organisations strengthens peoples’ voices.
Working and learning together – collaboration and sharing experiences is vital to good community activity.
What this means is that even if you’re the one who steps up first, there will be others who will join you. They might take a little while to come, but they will come. Together, you make your own choices, take control, form a collective voice, share resources and learn from each other. The second point is especially important. Empowerment has become a buzz word lately and there is a lot of talk about empowering communities and individuals. Unfortunately, the meaning gets lost when those deemed to be in positions of power simply give their permission for locals to do things. That is not empowerment – that is passing the buck. People need to feel that they are empowered with choice, opportunity and real genuine power. To be able to take control of who they are and what happens around them. There are various ways to do that so let’s have a chat.
SCDC continue that Community Development “recognises that some people, some groups and some communities are excluded and oppressed by the way society and structures are organised.” I don’t think we’d disagree with that statement. But rather than wallow in self pity and throw out another social media rant that the keyboard warriors will jump on, together you can turn the tide and create a more positive future.
So what is it that you want, either for yourself or your community? Do you want to learn? Do you want to tidy the place up? Do you want to do something active? Do you want a new group to start? Let’s be honest – the list is probably endless for all those questions (and more) together. But we have to start somewhere. One of our tasks here at OPCT is to support you to move forwards but also to manage expectations. We cannot fix everything and certainly not quickly. But together, we can do a whole lot more.
Let’s stop just talking about community matters and remember that communities matter. Let’s change the emphasis – together.
On Tuesday of this week, I was privileged to be part of the facilitation team for a Scottish focussed UK Jamboree for Asset Based Community Development, or ABCD as it’s easier to call it! I’ve spoken about this method of community work in a previous blog, and this online Jamboree was a chance to celebrate all that is good about communities.
The first UK gathering happened around 6 months ago and an outcome from that was to have regionally run gatherings, showcasing all that was great and good in different areas to a wider audience. A Scottish team was quickly established and together we set about to plan an event that would be the first one in the baton passing format. So I joined a team that included Community Development workers from the Strathcarron Hospice Compassionate Communities team, a Community Coordinator from Corra Foundation based in the West of Scotland, and the founder of Village in the City in Edinburgh. We quickly assembled a plan with some speakers, 2 of whom would do 20 minutes and 4 would do 5 minutes. This meant we could squeeze as much great stuff into the half day session as possible.
Just short of 100 people gathered for the event from around the whole UK and beyond – including from Bulgaria, Poland, Portugal and South Africa! All of them gathered for a good time of celebration but I don’t think any of us were prepared for just how inspired and enthused we were going to be. So here’s some highlights from each of the speakers that I picked up and hopefully they’ll inspire and enthuse you as well.
Cormac Russell, Nurture Development Cormac is the go to guy for all things ABCD and pulled the first UK Jamboree together. He kicked things off with a few words of welcome. He spoke about the power of people and reminded us that it’s all about the process, not just the product. This all relates wonderfully to how you just engage with and work alongside people towards a goal, but how because of the strengths and ideas people bring, the end goal may be different to what was first thought out. The journey to get there strengthens the community to sustain whatever the outcome was. He also encouraged us to stay “in trouble” and quoted from the Leonard Cohen song, Anthem: “Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget the perfect offering. There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” (I’ll put the full song video at the end of the blog). As always, simply brilliant from Cormac.
Fiona McKenzie, CentreStage This is an arts project in Kilmarnock but really is so much more than that. Fiona spoke of creating a Welcoming Happy Place where people write their own stories. They even received some funding from a regular funder to “do something” and the outcomes were worked out later. The aim being that the Centre users had the say in what developed. The key quote here being that “choice brings empowerment”. How often have I mentioned about stopping doing stuff to people but just work alongside them and let them lead the way? This project is a shining example of that.
Tamsin Ferrier, Denny Poppies Tamsin is a resident in Denny who, during Lockdown, had the idea of creating a Remembrance Day project that was similar to something achieved in her original home town. She admitted she has lots of ideas but struggles to keep quiet! (we know a few people like that too!) The amazing thing about this project was the ripple effect created by such a simple idea to make poppies to decorate the town. Tamsin spoke of how the project overcame negativity (you know the type – don’t do that because it’ll get wrecked), by simply focusing on the positives. Oh yeah, and not one poppy got wrecked. The takeaway message was this: “By everyone doing a little bit, we can make a huge, huge difference to where we live”. Brilliant.
Frances Park, Carbrain & Hillcrest Community Council We heard about how real support for people in this area of Cumbernauld grew out of a frustration that every other support process was a referral system. Frances told us how they needed to support each other – they needed a voice – so they just started a swap shop. And from what started out as covid support, they now have a funded Development Worker and a Community Hub!
Lynne Boslem, Tamfourhill Community Hub We heard of the journey from a group of 8 parents wanting a club for their children, to the amazing community resource that exists now and is still growing. Lynne spoke of the desire to truly meet the needs of the community but also about the challenges to learn things really quickly especially when it comes to asset transfer. Many were impressed with the Play Park, so an influx of visitors is to be expected! Although with many asking if adults can use the zip wire, they may have to supervise things closely!!
Leah Davcheva, Dragalevtsi, Sofia, Bulgaria Reflecting the true European nature of Scotland, this project was highlighted as it is an outpost of the Edinburgh based “Village in the City” project. Leah spoke of “sparkling moments” from their project called The Triangle, where a community garden project has created so many opportunities for the people in the area. One resident said that they “spoke with people I had previously seen only behind car windows”. Leah added that the very fact that we know each others names is, I think, an achievement.
Sam Green / Mia McGregor, Creative Stirling / The Cube Project Mia told us how her creative arts project was born out of frustration. She was fed up with always having to tick boxes, so decided to turn a box into something positive. From the grand total of £400 that she scraped together, 3 years later over 23,000 have engaged with the project and have had creativity sparked within them. She added that the cube works better if there’s no specific question and people can just take part and connect. Sam added that when we get to know each other, we treat each other better. Enough said!
Astoundingly, while the speakers were just selected because they were great, a couple of clear themes were picked up by people in the zoom chat and on twitter. Firstly that you only need a tiny spark of inspiration to make a huge difference. Secondly, getting to know people for who they are can really change a community. In fact one quote on the chat was “the more people in a community know each other by their first name, the safer that community is”. And that’s how simple developing a community can be – bring people together, help them to get to know each other properly and talk about their strengths. It’s about genuine relationships and connection.
There are many challenges within this way of thinking to those that think they hold the power and are perhaps perceived to be the ones who can make a difference. Nothing can happen without people so why don’t we turn things around and come together properly as local people and show them how it’s done. You have the real power. At the risk of repeating myself yet again, let’s stop looking for the negative and focus on the positive by creating even more new positives. (And for the record, all 20 trees are still growing nicely in the ground where the Tidy Clean Green volunteers planted them almost a month ago).
The tide is turning for the better but there is still so much to do – still more of you to meet – still more names we all need to get to know. Those who are getting involved already need some wing men/women. Who’s up for it? Come and join the growing Camelon and Tamfourhill community revolution.
Until next time, as promised, I’ll leave you with that Leonard Cohen song I mentioned above.
Now that we can do more things, it seems everyone is wanting to do everything in the next few months! Patience is key especially as some of you may still be a bit wary of going out to events at this time. We too have that air of caution around our planning but still, there is a lot going on. So here’s a quick summary of events and happenings that I’m involved in or am supporting. There’s much more than is contained in this blog, and many ideas are just in the formation stages, but this will give you an idea of how things are going:
Tidy Clean Green This resident led group has officially launched, office bearers appointed, the constitution signed, and a bank account is currently being set up. They received £1,500 from the Community Choices Small Grants programme towards developing Pop Up Parks and have just received some other funding that will further raise their profile but I can’t tell you about that yet! One of their first actions of planting trees in Brown Street Park has gone well as all of them are still in the ground where they left them! There are also monthly community litter picks plus other adhoc activity. If you’re not on the mailing list for this group and would like to be kept informed, then head to our mailing subscription link, fill in your details, and select #tidycleangreen in the options (along with anything else you’d like to be kept informed about.
Canal Based Activities This is another resident led group that is developing it’s offering in the background and will be launching very soon. There are some very exciting projects forming under one banner including canoeing, and I’m pleased to be able to support them in their aims. It’s great to see other local residents already benefiting from access to specific training around some of this too. Watch this space!
Mens Shed A couple of local guys are working up plans for a multi-faceted mens shed project that is really exciting and much needed. There’s a big mental health focus within this as well as tackling some practical activities too. They’ll need a few more guys to help move this on though so if you’re interested, let me know and I’ll link you up.
THRIVE to Keep Well This programme is well underway and is supporting 10 local ladies between now and the end of the year to understand themselves better, learn how to tackle what life throws at them, and move towards whatever potential looks like for them. We’re proud to be working with NHS Forth Valley, Falkirk Council Community Learning and Development, and the Health and Social Care Partnership to facilitate this pilot programme, and are grateful for the additional support of Artlink Central and Forth Environment Link. We’re having a really good time and are looking forward to everything else that this programme has to offer.
Training for you We have partnered with 4 The Benefit of All in Grangemouth, and Falkirk Council’s Employment Training Unit, to bring training to you in many areas. But rather than just put courses on randomly, we will shortly be bringing drop in information sessions to the community so you can speak with staff and find out what is out there for you. You’ll also be able to have a Better off in Work calculation carried out for you and find out about what support is there for you to get back into training, volunteering or employment.
Development Coaching I have been provided my impaCT 1to1 coaching for a few people and have got a lot of interest from others. This is where I will work with you over 6 sessions to help you find the answers to the questions you will be asking, as you move towards your potential.
Existing Groups I’m providing a range of support to some existing groups to build their strengths as well as helping with the development of their activities or offerings. Support with funding, governance, property, business planning, marketing and more is available either through me or through our partners. There’s room in my diary for more though so if there’s anything your group needs that you don’t know how to tackle, give me a shout!
Resident Engagement John has a couple of activities happening during the October week that he’ll tell you about, but we will also be having an event in Easter Carmuirs Park on the afternoon of Sunday 24 October. All details will be confirmed very soon but save the date for now. As well as lots of fun and food at these events, you will have the chance to chat with us about local developments, make your comments/suggestions, and see how you can get involved to make a positive difference right here.
Final Words Remember, there is no pot of money or magic money tree. Whether things have been discussed before or not, there is no cash sitting waiting to be spent. But, if you, the community, can pull together properly and effectively, forming groups where necessary and coordinating ideas, skills and talents (plus taking on learning where needed with our support), then amazing things can and will happen. We can’t sit back anymore and wait for things to happen or for others to do it. We’ve got a good momentum going with the things I’ve mentioned here plus other things that John has told you about. These things have got going because people have stepped up, put their head above the parapet, and refused to accept the status quo. Now they need your help.
Have you ever had times when despite the best planning, things just don’t work out as you hope? Those days when life throws you a few curve balls?
What do you do when that happens? How do you cope? Do you plough on through, or stick your head in the sand?
For me, this week has been one of those weeks. I won’t bore you with the details but it’s mainly been things to do with family (mostly the children), injuries, Test and Protect, and various unplanned journeys. Life stuff coming thick and fast at the same time that working here as a Community Coach is getting busier! Juggling has become harder. Stress has tried to disrupt things.
Now I’m not typing this to get sympathy (unless you want to!). I’m mentioning it to try to be of help!
I have the privilege of being one of the facilitators for the NHS THRIVE to Keep Well Programme being run for the first time in Falkirk. Colleagues from Community Learning and Development are joining me, plus support and input will come from Artlink Central, Forth Environment Link and others. The programme supports local adults who are experiencing mild to moderate mental health and wellbeing challenges. It was developed to assist individuals to rebuild their lives by increasing their skills, knowledge and awareness of their own personal health and wellbeing and aims to support participants to feel more integrated into their community by helping build positive social networks, improve personal development, and support participants to develop their own social and economic lives.
Through this programme, amongst other things, we introduce relaxation and try to understand what triggers stress within each individual. We will help each individual to move towards whatever a positive destination looks like for them.
So far, having had the intro and first full session, stuff has happened outside of the group to try to throw stress at us. In part it’s worked in distracting one or other of the facilitators. But overall, with the strength the group has found already, it has not brought us down! Bizarrely, Session 2 has sessions on the causes and triggers of stress! It will be good to have some practical examples to deliver to the group!
So what do we do? How do we get through this? Honestly, I don’t know! But this blog is meant to be of help so let me try. In reality, the answer is going to be different for each individual but let me throw out one solution. This might seem a little simplistic, but I believe this is a destination to work towards for all of us. Here goes…
Have you watched The Lion King? I love it and we’ve been lucky enough to see it at the theatre too where it takes on a whole new perspective. But I want to pull out one song from the show. It is sung to us by Timon and Pumbaa who befriended Simba when he ran away from his family. They taught him to enjoy life no matter how tough it gets. And so they sung “Hakuna Matata” – a phrase that means “no worries”. Through this light hearted song, they encourage us to discover ourselves freely and to not worry about the past, as dwelling over the past can easily ruin the present and future. It is a philosophy that can really transform your life.
I’m told that Hakuna Matata is basically a combination of Swahili words which means “there are no troubles” (Hakuna means “there is not here” and Matata means “problems or troubles”). Or we can also say that everything is okay, all is well.
Now I know that this is so much easier to say than to do. But I’m going to try to do this more. Will you join me? Here’s the song to help us out!
Okay, that title doesn’t scan as well as the Jackson 5 hit “ABC” but there’s a reason for the strange title to the blog this week.
Back in February I introduced you to a thing called Asset Based Community Development – ABCD for short. It’s a fancy title for working with who and what you have in your community and recognising them not as random statistics, but as people. People who have skills, talents, passions, needs, desires. People who can be the change in their community. People who, with the right encouragement, can be even more amazing. People who can make a positive difference in their lives, in their families lives, in the organisation their part of, and in the whole community. In short, what my job is here to do.
So why am I returning to this now?
Well, apart from the fact that I live by this every day, specifically, in a couple of weeks time I am part of a team hosting the second UK ABCD Jamboree that this time has a Scottish theme. Basically, this is an online get together for people delivering some kind of Community Development but also crucially, for those who are actually in communities – those who are being the change already. Practitioners at all levels. This is the first of a series of ‘regional’ gatherings where projects can be showcased from Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland. It’s been one of the positives of using online platforms to meet, as there is the chance to hear and learn from others across a wider field than we would ever have met with before. We’re so pleased to be involved in the first one of these and give the chance for people to see the opportunities that are being grabbed here in Camelon and Tamfourhill amongst other areas.
So this is an open invitation to you. Whether you’re reading this as someone in a position of authority, someone who is getting their hands dirty by doing the every day community stuff, or anyone in between those extremes, this is the gathering for you. It’s not a dry, policy led set of PowerPoint presentations. This is going to be full of living, breathing stories of communities making a difference. We want to flood this online gathering with people who are actively involved in community activity at all levels.
As well as hearing from some great projects from across Scotland (including a 5 minute piece from Lynne at Tamfourhill Community Hub in the quick fire talks section), there will be lots of chances to chat with people from other communities who are there to share and learn in equal measure. This is a place for ideas to be shared, connections to be made, and communities to be celebrated. And it’s all free!
So why not book in. It would be great to see you there and to truly celebrate our area on this UK platform. It’s being held on Zoom on Tuesday 7 September from 10am to 1230pm. More details are on the image below but you can book at celebratingcommunities.eventbrite.co.uk. I look forward to celebrating with you at that event.
For my blog this week, to finish off the series where I’ve asked “Why Bother” and “Why Not“, I am revisiting a blog I originally wrote back in July of last year, where I encouraged us to focus on Why we do things. What’s our motivation, our reason, our passion, our purpose? When we start with Why, everything else becomes clearer and falls into place. Now that we’ve explored why we should bother and helped you to address the “why not’s” in life, it seems appropriate to share that blog again to remind us all. So here it is….
Over the years that I’ve had the pleasure of working with community based activities, projects, organisations or enterprises, one thing always stands out for me. Those who know why they are doing whatever it is they are doing, survive longer and better than those who just focus on what they are doing.
This is not just something to put in a funding application form, but something that defines you as an organisation. It will help local people understand why they should get involved. If you’re trading, it could make the difference between someone choosing to buy from your socially benefiting enterprise, or a standard company up the road. If you’re fundraising, it could make the difference between a donors money coming to you or something else.
I’m sure you all know what you do: you hire rooms out; you run a sports activity; you coordinate events; you run a music group; etc etc.
You also probably know how its done: you have a price list and people book in; you have coaches, equipment, and training sessions; you book entertainment and advertise; you have instruments, rehearsals, tutors; etc etc
But the key to success is why you do it: to provide facilities and activities for the betterment of the local community; to improve health, fitness and wellbeing; to celebrate local identity and success; to encourage the development of talent; etc etc
So what is your starting point? Why, how, or what? Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek writes in his book “Start with Why” about what he calls the “Golden Circle”.
This is one of the most simplistic but powerful ways of looking at what it is that you do – or wish to do. We can so easily get bogged down in ideas, processes, procedures etc that we can forget what is at the heart of our mission. Sinek explains further:
“When most organisations or people think, act or communicate they do so from the outside in, from WHAT to WHY. And for good reason — they go from clearest thing to the fuzziest thing. We say WHAT we do, we sometimes say HOW we do it, but we rarely say WHY we do WHAT we do.” “When communicating from the inside out, however, the WHY is offered as the reason to buy and the WHATs serve as the tangible proof of that belief.”
Simon Sinek: “Start with Why”
This change of thinking could really make the difference for you and your activity / organisation. Before I say more, let’s hear from the Simon Sinek himself in this short TED talk:
In my last development role, I produced a marketing booklet entitled What we do and Why we do it. It was pretty evident what the place did, but not everyone fully understood why. Producing that booklet helped secure a major collaboration that will now be bringing increased support for people in that area. All because we highlighted the ‘why’.
It’s crucial to focus on why your organisations exists and emphasise this. Anything you do (what) and the process to make it happen (how) will fall into place if the why is solid. This is true for any activity, organisation or business but especially so when it is for community benefit. It will give your followers, service users or customers a way to identify with you on a personal level. If your ‘why’ matches their ‘why’, they will be willing to stand with you through thick and thin. Without a clear ‘why’, people default to the ‘what’. Then you are caught in the struggle to stand out in the ever growing sea of ‘what’ and are forced to differentiate yourself with features, or worse, with price. The end result is your reason for being – your ‘why’ – is lost.
Let’s take a hall or meeting space as an example – its easy for me as I’ve run one! You know how big it is, how many people it can hold and the kind of activities you’d be happy to see within it. You know how much it costs to run the hall (light, heat etc) and any staffing costs, so you can work out a rental price. If you stop there, you are just the same as any hall or meeting space and people will choose on location, availability or price – the ‘what’ and ‘how’. However, if you decide to run some activities yourself, or support a group to use the space for less than advertised rates, in order to provide something of direct benefit to the community, you can use this as a reason for other groups or companies renting your space – the ‘why’. “Use our space and we’ll use surplus funds to run this other activity for community benefit” or “have your meeting here and we’ll be able to allow a community benefit activity to use the space at a reduced price or for free”. See the difference? Suddenly there’s a reason for people to use your service – the ‘why’ has come to the fore and in this scenario, your ‘how’ (processes) and ‘what’ (activities) have become consistent with your ‘why’ (beliefs). And that’s the key as all three work together in harmony. To do that, you need to ensure the clarity of why, the discipline of how, and the consistency of what.
Remember that “People don’t buy WHAT you do; they buy WHY you do it.” The most effective leaders always win the heart first, and then the mind. And the only chance you have to win the heart is if you start with WHY.
Simon Sinek: “Start with Why”
I’ll leave you with a terribly misquoted song lyric that might help you remember this Golden Circle that we’ve looked at today: “It ain’t what you do its WHY YOU DO IT”. Until next week…….
Last week in this blog, I asked the question “why bother“. Many of you read it and some took the time to comment positively about it which is nice, but now I want to encourage a bit more action. So, in direct answer to last week’s question, I give you answer “why not“!
Okay, I accept that’s a question not an answer but I think it’s acceptable in this case.
The communities within Camelon and Tamfourhill need more people who will stand up and say “why not”. People who are not willing to look for excuses not to get involved. People who, when they see something that needs doing or where helpers are needed, say “yeah okay, why not. I’ll do that.”
We do have many people like this who have stepped up, said “why not” and used their time, talent and resources to make a difference. Some have been doing it for many (many) years and others are new to it. Here at Our Place Camelon and Tamfourhill, we want to celebrate those people, many of whom don’t even want thanks, praise or recognition for doing what they do. The unsung heroes. Obviously there are the big things like running Community Centres or Sports Clubs where we find many amazing “why not” people at the helm. But then there’s the smaller things which are arguably, just as (or maybe more) important. The person who picks up the litter in their street. The person who regularly does their elderly neighbours shopping. The person who checks in on someone to make sure they’re okay. The person who helps out with a club or activity. The person who checks the accounts for a small community group. The person who reports issues to the relevant authorities so they can be dealt with. The person who organises a get together of people in their close. I could go on…..
The thing is, many of these people have done these things for a long time and could do with some help. Many local organising committees are short on numbers. Many things need to get started but it needs local people to step up to make it happen. As I said last week, times have changed from when you could rely on statutory bodies to provide every service or activity you need. So do we sit back and moan? Do we rant on social media? Do we complain? Or do we say, yeah, why not, I’ll help out, tell me what I can do.
Now that’s all very well if you have the relevant skills to do something. But I know some of you will be concerned that you won’t know what to do or have the necessary skills or qualifications for it. Guess what – we can sort that. If you are not confident in your own abilities then we can sort that too. Here are just some options for sorting these and other things:
I can provide 1 to 1 development coaching for you to understand what you might need, what you could do, and to help you find the ways to move towards your potential.
We have partnered with NHS Forth Valley to bring the THRIVE to Keep Well programme to the area for the first time, as a pilot for women but hopefully for the whole community if this works – click that link for all information and contact details as there is still time to sign up for the August start of this programme.
I have access and links to various information, support, guidance etc to give you all you need to get involved in whatever it might be. All you have to do is ask.
So what will you say “why not” to? What do you see in the area that you think you could do something about or get involved in. What don’t you see happening that you think should be?
I am currently working with a couple of groups of local residents who have an idea, have seen a need, and have said “why not”. My job here is to support exactly that kind of thing. Whether its setting the group up and getting funding, or just making connections, finding premises and volunteers, and dealing with authorities, I’m here and at your service.
So why not bite the bullet and voice that idea that’s been hanging around your head for a while? Why not speak to someone you know who might be a good help with whatever it is you’re doing? Why not take that step towards finding your potential by finding out what training you could do or how you could get back into work?
I was relaxing the other evening watching “Later… with Jools Holland” when he introduced a song from UK jazz musician Emma-Jean Thackray. She’s quite a talent, being listed as a composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist, singer, bandleader and DJ! The style of music hooked me in and I was really taken by the use of a sousaphone by one of the musicians – not something you see every day! But it was the title that really got me thinking and became the seed for this week’s blog (not what you really want at 1030 on a Friday evening but that’s my commitment to you!).
Just think about the song title for a second – Don’t just speak … say something.
I wonder what thoughts that has brought to your mind. Feel free to share either in the comments or by messaging me directly. But for me, its about making sure that whatever comes out of my mouth is worthwhile, helpful, and not just said for the sake of it – that the language I use is to build up not to knock down. I could also apply that to this blog, where I try to put out useful material that will be of interest to you. I’m really grateful for the positive feedback I’ve received from readers which is helpful in knowing this blog is not just reaching people but is having the desired results. I accept that the subject each week will not be for everyone, and the same can be said for some of the things we generally want to say in life. Is this really something that everyone around you needs to hear or is this us just voicing a thought in our head that we really just need to work through ourselves or in a specific conversation directly with someone?
So, let’s look at this in relation to our daily lives. What are we speaking or saying generally? As we’re chatting to people at the school gate, in the shops, on the bus? What about when we’re ‘chatting’ to people on line or making a social media status update? Are we just speaking for the sake of it or are we actually saying something?
While we ponder all that, here’s the lyrics from Emma-Jean Thackray’s song:
Open your eyes before you open your mouth. Stick out your tongue and let me look inside. I want to find what’s down your throat. Open your heart to open up your mind.
Those pearly whites do they really shine? Are they even real? They look too bright. I want to find what’s deep inside. If you must speak, show us your mind.
Don’t just speak… Say something.
Blogger Reno Omokri says “Don’t speak because you want to say something. Speak because you have something to say. The more you talk just to say something, the more your listeners lose respect for you. The more you talk because you have something to say, the more they gain respect for you. And when listening to people, don’t focus only on their words, or you may miss out on what they‘re really communicating. Pay attention to their demeanour, their eye contact, or lack of it, etc. People lie with their spoken language, but hardly with their body language.”
I’d say that really sums it up, so you’ll be pleased to know I don’t have a lot more to add!! But I think the timing of this is really important as we’re beginning to move back to higher levels of activity and therefore more interaction with people. For those who haven’t necessarily had much direct human interaction over the last year, conversations may have been extremely limited, so this is a good time to remember even how to interact with others.
And the other side of this is actually looking at the person you’re talking to. As Emma-Jean says in the opening line of her song “open your eyes before you open your mouth”. What can you tell about the other person before you speak? Are they actually in the right frame of mind to hear what you feel you want to say?
It’s also important to understand that this doesn’t just refer to the general statements you say, but also the questions you ask. By that I mean asking the right kind of questions that will help you get the answers you need – and bear in mind they might not be the answers you’d like! Business advisor Belinda Lui says “The problem is, most of us ask terrible questions. We talk too much and accept bad answers (or worse, no answers). We’re too embarrassed to be direct, or we’re afraid of revealing our ignorance, so we throw softballs and miss out on opportunities to grow.”
This is a key part of our impaCT coaching programme during which our coaches will actually help you to ask the right questions of yourself and then to work towards finding and understanding the answers for yourself. It will help you to move towards your potential which includes how to interact better with others. There’s more information on all of this on our coaching page.
So as I close for this week, let’s all just think more about what we say, how we say it, and why we are saying it – both in person and online. And let’s give as much value to listening as we do to speaking. These are huge parts of community life that will further build on our community spirit as we regain the art of truly meaningful conversation.
Until next time, if you want, here’s Emma-Jean’s song for you to listen to!