Friday, 9 April 2010

Why being an outsider matters

I grew up in Catholic Ireland.  In fact, when I was growing up, Ireland was considered so Catholic that it was assumed there were no other religions in Ireland, or Southern Ireland to be exact.  It just goes to show, majority rules!

But there were other religions - every other religion - all hidden away in the crevices of society.  In my case, my mother is a Protestant and my father is a Catholic.  That single dynamic has influenced the very core of my personality... for my brothers it appears less important.  Perhaps it was because I was the eldest... But whatever the reason, it left me with a profound awareness of the need for tolerance and compassion.

I heard the comments directed at Protestants in Ireland, the assumptions, the ignorance, the insults... and each one hurt me as acutely as if they had been directed at me personally.  How could others demonise, minimalise and marginalise others, with no basis in truth, just because of ignorance and fear? 

As I've travelled and lived, I've come to realise how deeply blessed I was by this experience.  Others, who 'fit in', who have never had to consider any reality beyond the mainstream cliches of their culture, seem to fear any one who is different: in my limited experience, they seem to treat them with suspicion and derision. 

Please note, I'm not saying that those on 'the margins' are wholly accepting or wholly good... simply that being an outsider can force us to look at a wider perspective, to search for bridges of understanding, to seek ways to come together rather than fall apart. 

This was my experience, and how it impacted me.  Others may have found that it built up walls rather than crumbled them...  And yet, I suspect, that all of us have some experience of being on the outside, of 'looking in', of feeling left out... in those moments we become acutely aware of the power of inclusion, of the social and personal need to feel accepted for who we are.  In my idealistic and naive way, I wish we could make more use of that experience to be more open, to peak over the wall and wonder who the person on the other side of that wall is, to be more accepting of our differences rather than fearing them.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Taking off the Business Mask

Most of us will have had an experience where we felt that we conformed to what was expected of us, but in that process, we sold out on ourselves.  Most frequently, this is we were wearing our Business Mask. 

At Being in Business, we believe that the Business Mask is out-dated.  We live in a world that is too dynamic and complex to be prescribed by a limited sets of business expectations. Human beings are too rich, complex and innovative to have their talents, passions and purpose locked up behind a mask, only available during out-of-office hours.

We believe that authenticity, congruence and integrity are fast becoming the heart and soul of the new way of doing business, as it increasingly, moves from arms-length transactions to purchases built around trust, relationship and referral.

We have found, among our clients, that people are itching to be open and honest, that they want to connect with others more deeply, and that they want to build relationships and shared understanding. 

The Business Mask only worked when business was built on the concept of competition and combat, when bigger was better, faster and flashier.  In an evolving market place, where collaboration and community are becoming the order of the day, that Business Mask is becoming dated and out-moded.

Removing the business mask can be a delicate process.  And please note, we do say process not action!  We suggest that, in those moments when you have a strong feeling of what you truly want to say, rather than what you ought to say, that you gently follow that intuition. 

Your honesty and truth offers others the opportunity to respond in a like manner.  What's more, your honesty will probably reflect the unspoken thoughts and desires of others around you.  It does take courage, and discernment, but the richness of each person's unique honesty and heart-felt truth is the pathway towards innovation and long-term relationship building.

In all processes, there are seasons

I know I said I wouldn't bore you about the scan, but I'm weak!  Avert your gaze if you don't want to be blinded by the first surges of motherly love!

The scan went fine - the baby appears perfectly healthy (yipppeee!) and is a real mover...!  My goodness, I hope they calm down with age!

What interests me (almost as much) has been Dirk's reaction to the process.  Apart from the fact that he has the scan in a silver frame on his desk (his colleagues will be driven demented by him!!) it means that the conversation that starts, "Are you sure you're pregnant?" is now, definitively, Over!

I hadn't realised how abstract the whole concept of early pregnancy is for men.  I know it stands to reason, but I thought seeing me go through the mill would be proof enough!  However, it appears that they can't see anything or feel anything, so they are left trusting in blind faith - and how many of us enjoy that experience?!

Neither had I realised how little my experience had translated to him.  For me, the past 6 weeks especially, made the Saw ride a Alton Towers, look like a wimp's day out!  The nausea, constant hunger, exhaustion and, most surprisingly, the depression pulled and pushed without respite.  The 'glow' they speak about was unimaginable to me.  I may not have been able to see the baby, but I knew I was pregnant - it had me by the scruff of the neck!

But as with all processes, there is cycle... a pathway through the seasons.  Now that those symptoms are easing, and I feel like my optimistic self again, it's nice to see Dirk excited and (dare I say it?!) even pampering me!  Now this is more like it!

Finally, may I wish you a blessed Easter.  May this season of new beginnings and rebirth reignite your joy and passion in life.