Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Six Things - Bethany Richard

Bethany grew up in Kent before completing a degree in Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge.  After graduating four years ago she moved to Bishops Stortford to complete a year of voluntary work with the Community Church.  She liked it so much that she stayed and has been working in the town ever since, in various part-time jobs involving children and young people - teaching at the Christian School in Takeley, privately tutoring, and becoming her alter ego 'Brainy Bethany' at Mad Science after-school clubs and holiday camps.  In September she will be starting a Secondary PGCE course in Chemistry, back at Cambridge.  Her favourite things are reading children's fantasy novels, baking cakes, singing, making jewellery, watching period dramas and sci-fi movies and climbing mountains.

One thing that's always worth getting out of bed for
The chance to create something, whether it's music, craft, a cake or even just a clean and tidy house!

One thing about yourself that often obstructs you
My indecisiveness.  I often find it hard to know what I want, let alone how to go about getting it.

One thing I've learned the hard way
If I go out in the sun I will get sunburnt.  Every year I forget this simple truth!

One thing that gets under my skin
People who are rude - it's just not necessary.

One thing I'd love to change
The price of petrol!

One thing I hope for
To see my dreams fulfilled in the way that most honours God.

Six Things is a series of micro-interviews with interesting and creative people
in which they’re asked to respond to a standard set of six prompts.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

The colours of creation

I recently visited the Musee D'Orsay in Paris and had the chance to see some of Vincent Van Gogh's paintings.

I knew they were good, even great, but I was not ready for how amazing they were. The paintings were simply astounding, indeed looking at his contemporaries paintings like Gauguin, a great painter in his own regard, it was like comparing a professional to a good amateur. Vincent's paintings are full of life and vibrancy. I would encourage everyone who has the chance to see them in the flesh to do so, you won't be disappointed.

His paintings inspired me, I found this poem just come out of me as I reflected on my visit.

In a stroke there are a thousand shades of life
revealing what has been in plain sight
Hidden from the sight of mere mortals
but opened by this mans inspired hand
How it dances, the spark of life
it dazzles on the petals, it twinkles on the swirls of the fields
exuding from even chair and bed
Is there something special in this paint?
Or are we seeing the touch of the Divine?
A tortured soul, misunderstood and alone
but closer to God in someways than we could ever be
Thank you Vincent for sharing with us
the colours of creation.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Speaking a different language

How many of you, like me struggle to learn or speak a different language? This year I am going on holiday to France and I know I will only be able to speak a few token words of French and even if I really tried to learn I would barely get out of the basic phrases. And once you try to learn a bit of another language you then hit the massive hurdle of fluent speakers talking back at you two or three times too fast for you to understand.

The easy part of learning a language is using the words, understanding them when they are spoken to you and being able to respond back is the real skill. I have discovered (over the last ten years or so) that I need to learn the language of human emotions and connection. I am probably still in year 1 primary age class in this topic (with occasional flashes of promise!).

I wish like French someone had engaged me with a real desire to learn this inner language and not be stuck in my well established routines and responses. But the good news is we never stop learning and even someone as old as me can learn a new trick!

Friday, 5 August 2011

Leadership: destination, people, journey, and arriving

If leadership is about anything then it's about achieving a vision. Whether that vision is...
... winning the championship or avoiding relegation
... growing a business or organisation
... putting on a successful event or trip

So looking at the journey a leader takes in achieving a vision it seems there are four aspects, the four parts of leadership over any given time. Destination, People, Journey, and Arriving.

The Destination - This is all about where you are going, your vision. If you don't have one are you really leading? Is it clear, do people understand it?

The People - Someone who claims to be a leader, yet has no one following them is just taking a walk. So if you are a leader you will have people with you. How do you include them in your leadership? How do you inspire the keen ones and not at the same time disenfranchise the cautious ones?

The Journey - Very few leadership journeys are really easy and mishap free. Much like life there are ups and downs and often it is the downs that test and shape leaders the most. How do you handle the problems? How do we - leaders and the organisation as a whole - learn from our mistakes?

Arriving - At the end of our journey we arrive at our destination. This can be a time for reflection, resetting and relaunching or maybe retirement.

Over the next few weeks I will put a bit more meat on these four bones of leadership. I would love to know your comments on this overall view and my thoughts on each aspect as I share them.

Personal note:
I don't claim to be a guru on leadership but over the years I have experienced and worked with great leaders, read and studied on aspects of leadership and I hope gained some experience and understanding myself.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Six Things - Mike French

Mike was born in Cornwall in 1967, and spent his childhood there and in Forres in Scotland with a few early years in Singapore. He is married with three “wonderful kids” and currently lives in Luton in the UK.

The owner and senior editor of The View From Here literary magazine, he also enjoys painting, watching Formula 1, eating Ben & Jerry's icecream and listening to Noah and the Whale.  His second novel, Blue Friday is now completed and he is starting work on his third novel. For the last ten years Mike has been a “home dad” after giving up his job in optical engineering to look after the kids full time – much of his first novel, The Ascent of Isaac Steward was written during their afternoon naps!

Mike blogs here :
And twitters here :

One thing that's always worth getting out of bed for
The sound of post coming through the letterbox. You never know – sure it’s just bills but one day it could be that Knighthood. Although these days the post arrives about eleven – so the chances of still being in bed then are zero.

One thing about yourself that often obstructs you
I have trouble with door handles, slippery things. Means sometimes all it needs is a closed door to obstruct me.  Apart from that my tendency to be a perfectionist which sometimes is a strength sometimes bogs me down.

One thing I've learned the hard way
That God rarely just opens those pesky doors – when I finished my novel for example I thought getting a contract would surely soon follow. Ha! I’m older and wiser now and learnt to jimmy the handle by sticking a screwdriver behind it. God apparently approves.

One thing that gets under my skin
People that just walk out in front of the car. Is it wrong to want to run them over?

One thing I'd love to change
Toy packaging. You know all those annoying plastic ties holding them in like strait jackets.

One thing I hope for
To get to the end of my days without being completely knackered.

Six Things is a series of micro-interviews with interesting and creative people
in which they’re asked to respond to a standard set of six prompts.