One of the many issues facing people across the piece is that there’s too much Me Time.

We haven’t learned how to deal with our Own Thoughts.

We were never taught what it means to be mindful and Accept Our Thoughts.

Instead we were told Go To The Pub.

In the absence of Distraction and Alcohol or Drugs, we have Random Fucknuts filling our mental space.

The upshot of this is our Limited Capacity is filled with Random Bollocks that ends up translating into conspiracy theories of the highest order.

People actively railing against the very healthcare systems and institutions that will save them when they are in need of that very healthcare.

There are many layers to why this is the case. Our Thoughts are there for us to interrogate and understand better.

Instead we give up Our Thoughts to Their Thinking. They Said. I Heard.

We are so uncomfortable with Our Thinking that we’d rather fill it with Random Bollocks.

We were never taught how to deal with Our Fears and Our Anxieties. We were told to keep a Stiff Upper Lip.

What we didn’t realise was keeping a Stiff Upper Lip left things wide open for Farage and Hartley-Brewer and Pearson and Sikora to give us active disinformation and misinformation to help us think we’re Doing Better.

And not just them. But the likes of all the self-help phonies out there. Christ I hate them. Such an incredible lack of empathy and compassion with messages that are so deaf they are deafening in their egotistical prowess.

I sincerely hope this Lockdown 3.0 gives the UK government the time it needs to genuinely create the plans and policies it needs to enable the country to get back on its feet.

Things I’ve learned in 2020

We all have trauma and pain that we need to deal with and resolve.

In all likelihood, that trauma and pain is the cause of many bad decisions and ongoing bad decisions.

I never took for granted having good health, and my recovery from Covid-19 highlighted to me just how good my health has been.

My extended family continue to be important for my wellbeing.

My immediate family continue to be everything to me.

I learned years ago that a strong support network of people who can build you up and help you be your best self is crucial for my resilience. They have been a constant source of energy and life for me.

My closest friends are such good guys. They’re good men and they’re good people.

I miss my commute into London. I don’t miss the transport, I miss the people. I never cared if people were too close, or man-spreading, or eating their lunch. That shared space was whatever any of us needed it to be.

Similarly I miss the live shared experiences. Sitting with my team and someone bursts into laughter. In a pub and the buzz and the energy. In a cinema and everyone being shocked at the reveal. At the bus stop and commenting on the service.

My daily walk is much more regenerative than I realised.

I am building my confidence with mountain biking. I hate hills.

I really don’t like not trusting my surroundings. So much of what I have security in is based on trusting that my environment, the people I’m with and the general infrastructure of life.

Everyone is reacting so very differently to lockdown and the various edicts we receive. It’s very hard to know if there’s meant to be a “right” answer.

We are learning, live, what it means to live through a global pandemic in a way many of us would never have thought probable except in dystopian novels and films.

Science is the genuine winner. We have experts in their fields crunching the data, doing the analysis and studying all related things. This is how you combat large scale disease.

Conspiracy theories and fake news are far more a problem than we realised after the 2016 Brexit and Trump votes.

I am loving Viola Davis in How To Get Away With Murder. Her character, Annalise Keating is a equally brilliant and frightening.

Black Lives Matter. Until they do, we cannot claim all lives matter.

I am really impressed with Disney+.

The Human

I have to fight to hear someone.

Noise. Opinions. Data. News. Voices.

Our contract with social media is so very broken.

We are triggered and told to think in binary terms.

Adult debate and thinking isn’t allowed to take place without some false sense of taking down.

We can’t call wrongs wrong because everyone’s voice needs to be heard, but we know that’s not true.

We struggle to uphold social injustice without being accused of being in a cult or virtue signalling.

We can’t address genuine harms because we’ve conceded that anyone can be an expert in anything even when they’re not.

I am so tired of it all.

Biden won. But we’ve got so much work to do to dismantle structural and systemic bias and prejudice. Trump was an enabler and the epitome of the entitled.

We continue to lose patience.

Lockdown sucks. Humans connect. That’s what we do. We are drawn into ourselves and made to be and act selfishly. We are told to explicitly to not trust our fellow man.

The human side of things feels so lost.

I stay away from a lot of rabbit holes these days. Online discussions are so fraught and so divisive. Sure, it just highlights normal everyday conversations people are having.

But every conversation feels divisive.

The fun and the joy is there. I know it is. I see those and spread the fun and the joy where I can.

The heart is there. I know it is. I has such support when recovering from Covid-19, the outpouring was so kind and generous.

The human is there. I know it is. When we take the time listen and hear others. When we give them the time and space to just speak.

Hey L&D Vendors

Here’s a typical problem.

You’re seeking to run a management development programme. Let’s say it’s a 3 month programme for 30 front line managers, 2 days a month of in-person training, requirement for virtual and digital elements, and seeking additional resources. You go out to seek quotes from different vendors in this space.

One vendor comes back and says they’re a sole consultant and can deliver the whole lot. Priced at £1000 a day, with additional resources at additional £500 for the cohort.

One vendor, one of the big L&D vendors, pitches an offer of 2 consultants to deliver the whole affair, priced at £2500 a day, and for their proprietary content and license to access resources, an additional £150 per delegate.

A final vendor, a mainstream business school, offers a senior researcher. For a flat fee of £110,000, they’ll deliver everything on their campus. Rooms are an extra, but they’ll have faculty presenting on different elements of the programme as needed.

That’s the first typical problem.

Here’s another typical problem.

You want a digital learning experience for 200 staff on their ability to understand problem solving.

One vendor, a sole consultant specialising in digital content, offers to design and build content as you need it. They’ll charge £1000 per day of work. They’ll be adaptive to your needs.

A second vendor, a well-known collaborative content platform, wants to provide their platform at flat rate of £30,000 for the year, and you can use the platform and their content as you see best. The collaborative platform means the delegates can create user-generated content.

A third vendor, a mainstream L&D vendor, offers to sell you a license giving you access to all their digital content, and you can build your own learning experience for your delegates using their content. Per person the offer is £200 per license, plus £6000 for annual access.

The different ‘solutions’ above are indicative of the problem at hand. In L&D, we have no way, none whatsoever, to discern or use critical decision making skills to evaluate which vendor we could go with. Arguably, any of the options could work, and none are better than the other.

The core of the problem is we have no way, at all, to determine if one cost is worth more than another. Should you go with the cheaper option if you’re a charity with little funds? Well, you could, but lower cost doesn’t mean stronger delivery. Should you go with a higher cost just cos you are a cash rich business? Well, you could, but higher cost doesn’t mean better credibility or better content.

What do you see as the problem as I’ve laid it out?

Lessons from Dr Martin Luther King Jr about #BlackLivesMatter

In 2019, I was fortunate to take a work trip to Atlanta, Georgia, USA. It was my second trip, and on this occasion wanted to make sure I spent some time learning more about the life of Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

It was a powerful visit, and one I haven’t found time to write about properly, although I shared images through social media of my visit at the time.

The King Center was established in 1968 by his wife, Coretta Scott King after the assassination of Dr King. Mrs King was a formidable and powerful female leader. Leading on numerous local, national and international education and training initiatives as well as programmes of change, her influence over the civil rights movement was significant and always with non-violence and inclusion at her heart.

Coretta Scott King poster at The King Center

Her statement “I don’t believe you can stand for freedom for one group and deny it to others” really speaks to me. There is such rampant nationalism amongst some, and such xenophobia, racism and otherism, that we don’t allow ourselves to realise that we can build for everyone, and there is unlimited potential when we do that. When we close our thinking, close our relationships, close our borders, we only ever close our options and I fail to see how that’s ever a beneficial position for all.

On site at The King Center were the principles of nonviolence as explained by Dr King. I share them here, with my own additional thoughts.

What I think is powerful about Dr King’s thinking is that he allowed multiple disciplines to be part of his thinking. He didn’t restrict himself to the teachings of the Bible, although he was a pastor and learned man. He didn’t personally meet Mahatma Gandhi, but was very influenced by Gandhi’s approach to reform in India through nonviolence.

In a powerful speech, Dr King shared that when you stand firm to violence with non-violence, you show the moral fibre of a man. If all they have are their harmful and abusive words, their violence and their anger, that shows you what you’re dealing with. This is why he advocated so strongly for Black people to take the pain of violence from White people, because if all a White person could do is be violent, that shows the weakness of the White person.

Principle One of nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people.

As we’ve been learning recently in the wake of the death of George Floyd, being non-racist isnt enough. We have to be anti-racist, and we have to be actively resistant to the structures that work against us through nonviolent means. The majority of protests have been without violence, and the protests have been able to positively influence political decisions and Police taking action in favour of the protests.

Principle Two of nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding.

“The end result of nonviolence is redemption and reconciliation” is such an important statement. Who is being redeemed? Anyone committing violence. What reconciliation needs to take place? The broken relationship between those being oppressed and those with power. To lead with seeking to understand speaks to the heart of empathy.

Principle Three of nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice not people.

The insight here about evildoers also being victims is so important. Populists and fascists only care about control and abuse of power. That control and abuse of power is also the manipulation of their followers. Manipulation is insidious levels of abuse and harmful to both the people being manipulated and the harm they are affecting on others. This principle recognises that there are good people and they are not trying to be evildoers – many are misguided and unthinking in their approach until they experience better ways, and empathy is allowed to take place.

Principle Four of nonviolence holds that suffering can educate and transform people and societies.

This principle really demands we think so carefully about nonviolence being active and a conscious choice. To accept suffering without retaliation – I cant even comprehend the personal strength to not retaliate. So much of masculine toxicity is tied up in retaliation. But to seek education and transformation without acknowledging personal growth and examination of personal prejudice? Wow. That’s the unearned suffering. To not go to that place of pain, to not hear or accept others pain, to dismiss and ignore other peoples pain. Yes, it hurts. Yes, it’s how redemption takes place.

Principle Five of nonviolence chooses love instead of hate.

How I love this. Can you imagine the pain to be endured to have the level of insight to say that nonviolence resists violence to the spirit as well as the body? Of the spirit. That in being attacked, we are never just attacking the physical, we are also attacking the spirit of another. But, in love and compassion we can heal. We can create. We can care for others. We can build for all.

Principle Six of nonviolence believes that the universe is on the side of justice.

This last principle affirms a belief many wish to have that justice is just and that justice will be done. But we have to persist for that justice. Injustice is so easy to accept, and easy to explain away. And many who argue that injustice is a myth are only seeking to maintain the injustice because they are in some way benefitting from the injustice. In the modern day that is often simply about followers and likes and media attention. To keep working towards justice is a deep driver. A deep belief.

The Beloved Community as defined by Dr King.

Dr King’s Beloved community is a verse of hope and optimism. It is an ideal, and one that we can work towards. It is as true in 2020 as it was in the 1950s and 60s when he spoke about it. His philosophy contains more than the Six Principles of Nonviolence, it also contains the Triple Evils as he saw them, the Six Steps of Nonviolent Social Change and his belief in the Beloved Community.

Dr King was indeed an incredible man. 2020 has seen a lot of important discussion take place about #blacklivesmatter, and rightly so. There is already a lot of insight written about the injustice and systemic racism in modern society. And the above is further context to the work that Dr King recognised in his time, which is still so relevant today.

Things I’ve learned about being an ally

My reality, and my lived experiences are only one part of living in this world. Yes, they are valuable to me. Yes, they may also have been from a position of privilege. Yes, I have also been a victim of and a supporter of systemic bias.

Listening is hard. It means having to accept another person’s reality, which can mean understanding you directly or indirectly harmed others.

If someone is not being heard, stand up for them and let others know they have a voice to be heard, and to acknowledge them and their voice wholly.

I don’t have to add my thoughts. I can be more helpful and supportive by just hearing others and letting them say what they can, want, and need to.

I have to do the work. Reading from others’ experiences. Learning about and from them. Accepting their truth and accepting their reality.

I understand how systemic bias works against others in a myriad of ways. I understand I have been complicit in that. I understand I have benefited from that.

Amplifying voices of difference and stories of harm, abuse and attack are important. If those voices aren’t heard by a broad spectrum, how are we to correct for our own biases and prejudices?

Asking questions and talking with others is important. Dialogue is key. Through dialogue, I understand how I’m expressing myself, being critical of my own language, and assess my thoughts.

Allyship is empathy. By being empathetic, I allow myself to understand how to be a good ally.

Giving advice is so easy to do, and so often the wrong move. Unless being sought, advice is often our way of feeling like we’re being helpful. Giving unsolicited advice is an ego-driven approach.

I respect how others use their language. If I don’t understand how they are using their language, I seek to understand, and I seek to learn. It’s not for me to determine if their use of language is right or not, if they inform me, I learn. It doesn’t mean I adopt their language, it means I understand how they’re using it.

Allyship is friendship. Friendship means I will always seek to be supportive and stand with my friends. Friendship is allyship.

Allyship is learning. I don’t beat myself up over past mistakes. I accept them. I learn. Learning is allyship.

I accept guilt and shame for past mistakes. I haven’t always been an ally as well as I thought I was. It has taken time and a lot of self-reflection and personal learning.

I am still learning. I understand how I can be an ally. That doesn’t stop today, and it doesn’t end. Allyship is important to me.

Allyship is inclusion. By accepting others’ reality and their lived experiences, I include them in my day to day life. Inclusion is allyship.

Being an ally is a positive outcome for all. By being an ally I am not excluding others.