So you want to make a difference… but how?
It was a bad week. At the beginning of the week, I was made redundant from a job I loved (as a political journalist). In the middle of the week, I found out about a life-changing medical condition and at the end of the week, my brother was given weeks to live.
It was a low point and that gave me the gift of reviewing my life.
Six months later I was working as a Press Secretary to a Minister in the Government, and from the outside my life looked perfect. But inside I was sad, often angry and restless to make a positive difference in the world. I ended up sitting with a counsellor at the local hospice talking about establishing a biography service for people who were dying. I bought a walkman, took it into the homes of the people who wanted to tell their story and hit the record button (hey, it was the 90s!). I then engaged other people to assist with transcribing the recordings, got photos printed and bound each person’s story into a mini ‘book.’ The hospice loved it. The story-tellers loved it and their families loved it and I loved doing it. A year later the service had gone from just me and a couple of friends to more than twenty people listening to others and giving the gift of reviewing their life. Soon other hospices around the country adapted the idea for their needs and their communities. 24 years later the service is still running and is an integral part of what the hospice offers those in its community.
Listening to people with compassion showed me that practical experience is the way to make a difference in the world.
I enrolled in a Masters in Counselling and learnt how to really listen – to see what wasn’t being said, to trust my intuition and always to value the thoughts and emotions of the person in front of me. I then trained in coaching, building on my skills and experience. A few years ago, I took this listening attitude into leading a team across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, knowing that whether sitting side-by-side or a number of time zones apart, it is possible to build rapport and trust with a team.
Leading with humanity is born
After the massacres in the Mosques in my home city of Christchurch, New Zealand in March 2019, I was impressed to see the New Zealand Prime Minister display compassion and empathy towards the victims and at the same time take action to make the country safer. It got me thinking about those who lead with humanity and I wondered what they have in common? So I asked them. It turns out that they’re motivated to make a positive difference in the world, they listen, they lead by example, they’re self-aware, they include others and they’re flexible and curious.
Assisting others to bring these qualities into their work and lives, is why I developed the Leading with Humanity programme.