For the first time since I started writing these blogs I’ve got writers block. So after some thought, I decided to go back to considering why I was writing them in the first place. The reason has always been to communicate to you our members: because I am new, because you didn’t or don’t know me; and because for the same reason that the saying ‘people give to people’ is right in fundraising, this also is true in other areas.
We are a membership organisation, and as such, a community. Positive communities (or communities with cohesion) have a common vision and a sense of belonging for all. So it’s fair to say that one of the reasons for my blog is to help build community cohesion within our membership. I believe one of the ways this can be achieved is by recognising and celebrating the diversity in our membership, sharing the opportunities available with everyone; and being open and honest about myself as a leader within this community to unite people through shared values and purpose.
I have mentioned before that my background is in specialist social care, in particular professional youth and community work. What I have learnt from living and working with some of the most challenged and challenging communities in the world is that when you reach out to others, when you humble yourself and show your own vulnerability, this is when you become accepted within that community and can work with them to bring about change and transformation.
It’s not always about being the largest, or the strongest, in power or control, nor is about being the loudest, the most knowledgeable or experienced; although none of those things are wrong either. But it is often about extending oneself, giving of oneself and opening up, stretching yourself outside of your comfort zone and trusting in others to meet you there – that’s the place that leads to change, that’s where transformation happens.
However, it is never easy. I have some excellent stories to tell (well my kids think they are anyway) of some of the amazing communities I have lived and worked in; but none of it has been easy. When you step up and/or out to lead in this way you are exposing yourself and can take on knocks and criticism (and sometimes just grumpy people). Therefore it’s important to build in refuge and support. I’m not sure I’ve done that properly yet in my new role and it’s something I been reflecting on with the help of our Chair and members of The Council. But one thing I know is true, it’s really important to communicate, to be open, and to seek support and refuge at times too.
This weekend, many of us will be taking time to mark 100 years since the end of the 1st World War and remembering all those in and outside of the military over a 100 years ago and up to the current time, who have extended themselves to bring about change and paid the highest of price.
‘They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them.’ Laurence Binyon