Sr Stan Kennedy

St Stan Insta 1

 

Ten years ago I set off on a journey across the globe to interview a whole range of social entrepreneurs about their life stories. I wanted to capture their learning, insights, wisdom and stories. Ten years on I’m back on the trail, reconnecting with the interviewees and asking a new batch of questions, wondering where are they now, and what insights or additions would they offer for us today.

While that journey took me all across the globe, it was important to me to begin in Ireland, learning more about social change in my home country and the people who are driving that change. One of those is Sr. Stanislaus Kennedy. Know affectionately as Sr Stan, she is a serial social entrepreneur having founded four organisations: Focus Point (now Focus Ireland), Young Social Innovators, The Sanctuary, and the Immigrant Council of Ireland. Sr Stan is a tireless champion of the rights of all, particularly the marginal and the vulnerable all across the globe. She is also the author of many books, most recently on the topics of  spirituality, meditation and hope.

What a legend, and what an honour to profile her here once again. Now over to Sr Stan…

30.2.04 Dublin, Ireland. Sr STANISLAUS KENNEDY. ©Photo by Derek Speirs

How has your path shifted and evolved since I interviewed you for One Wild Life? Where are you now and what are you working on? 

When I wrote 10 years ago I was very active in executive responsibilities and in the delivery of services. Within the past year I have moved on from executive responsibilities, but I work in the area of service and human and spiritual relationships.  If you are alive I believe you’re better off working.

I have moved away from all executive positions in the four organisations which I founded; Focus Ireland, The Immigrant council of Ireland, Young Social Innovators and the Sanctuary while I am still on the boards and some committees and sub committees and I assist with work on the ground with customers. But I also have moved into mentoring and tutoring people and helping to develop courses and programmes and inductions to support inspire and empower people, especially younger people and particularly people on the front line like social workers, care workers, youth workers and teachers. Basically is passing on what I have learnt myself.

What are some of your highlights of the past 10 years? 

Every day has a highlight, it is a questions of being able to see it. During those 10 years there have been numerous highlights particularly highlights in seeing people finding peace, happiness and contentment in their life and seeing people being given hope, for example when I see homeless people offered a home.

In the past 10 years I have travelled.  I have been to India where I spent some time in an ashram in a very remote rural part of the south eastern province of Tamil Nadu. I went there to spend some time in meditation, learn more about mediation and deepen my own meditative practices. I have been to Zambia where I introduced the Young Social Innovators there. Young Social Innovators is training young people to be active citizens.  I also went on a lecture tour in Australia where I got the opportunity to meet people and see how services are developed there. While there I got the opportunity to visit the Great Barrier Reef and I spent some time at Lady Elliot Island which is the most southern coral cay of the Great Barrier Reef and it was just extraordinary seeing the marine life there, something that I would not have even imagined before.

What have been some of the challenges of the past 10 years? What would you have done differently? 

The greatest challenge in the last 10 years was the economic crash and the great suffering it caused for so many people, particularly poor people and it was very challenging to try and give people a sense of hope, a sense of dignity in the midst of appalling circumstances.

Homelessness is now at a national crisis point in Ireland and vulnerable people are not being protected.  This is I believe  the responsibility of the whole society, the private, the public, the voluntary and community sector.  It is something we have every reason to be ashamed of, with families being confined to rooms in hotels because there was no hostels or houses for them.  That has been a challenge over the past ten years and it continues to be a challenge. It should never have reached this crisis stage, it reached this crisis stage because successive governments stopped providing social housing.  That has to change.

I would like to see our society prioritizing those who suffer on the margins. Lip service about protecting the vulnerable is simply not good enough.

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Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to yourself 10 years ago? 

I would spend more time in my own inner sanctuary, that still place within. I would spend more time in the Sanctuary for example, it has the atmosphere, the ambience and the equipment to help us to listen to the small still voice within which is often little more than a whisper.

I would spend more time retrieving my connection with nature, the wonder, the awe, the mystery and the beauty of nature.  I would spend more time envisioning a spirituality that would be inclusive of age, gender, culture and beliefs.

What do you see as some of today’s global challenges and what opportunities do you see?

The great global challenges today is the plight of refugees and migrants. We have a huge responsibility in the developed part of the world to take things seriously and to take more responsibility for this global humanitarian crisis. If we are not part of the solution to these then we are part of the problem.   We have already caused the problem, we have caused much of what is happening across the globe to migrants, to displaced people. We can now put somethings right.

Ireland has been largely silent on this humanitarian crisis. In Ireland we have no hard right wing or anti migrant party but there is resistance to migrants.  Given our history, only a robust pro migrant argument is responsible politically. We need leadership, we need greater collaboration, we need communication and shared responsibility from all stakeholders in Irish society. We need leadership which needs to be shown by the Department of the Taoiseach, drawing together the private and public and voluntary and community sector, but it needs to be lead by the Taoiseach. The government needs to take personal ownership and give symbolic leadership by travelling to the camps and ensuring it is informed and in a position to create public understanding and support.

We can do it in Ireland, we have a powerful sense of community, it is a natural part of who we are. It is stimulated by various groups in the voluntary and community sector including churches, sporting organisations etc.  We need to harness all that.

Here in Ireland we could develop a model response to this crisis.  We are a tiny island between the east and the west and the north and the south.  We are not a threat to anyone, but we can provide a welcoming place where the world can meet. Hospitality has been always our hallmark. Now we need to be more hospitable than ever. We have a lot to share with the whole world, as a culture we have a lot to give. We should cherish it and offer it. Generosity is the source of all richness. We should work to banish greed and offer what we have and what we are to those hundreds of thousands of people who are displaced.

Over the last 10 year the field of social entrepreneurship has evolved and got better known and supported. What would you say is the next stage of growth for the field and what are some of the main questions or challenges which it faces? 

I think social entrepreneurship in the future needs a very clear vision and a very clear value system and realise that social entrepreneurship is primarily about human beings relating to each other. It is not just about fixing things and doing things, if the relationship is not central to the work it is not humanizing, it is not helping people to grow humanly and spiritually and it can actually dehumanize and damage people.

lay of the land 2016-17

Why do you continue to do what you do? And how do you sustain yourself in the process? 

I do so because of an abiding consciousness of the plight of the vulnerable and the dispossessed.  Because I would like to see Ireland as a place that values all its citizens equally. A society that would show compassion towards the weak and lonely, that could distill the terrible greed of recent decades.  I would like to see a society which protects the vulnerable in a real way by delivering the 5 basic human rights, the right to adequate food, education, healthcare, housing and jobs. I would like to see a society where every single person is protected, a society where its laws and structures will automatically provide for peoples basic needs and basic rights.

I sustain myself by my belief and reliance on God, the God of my life. I sustain myself that I believe that we must face life with as much generosity and love that we can muster and it will return to us. I say that because I believe in the God of love. A God who loves me unconditionally, and his message to us is to grow in love, to open our hearts, to keep our hearts open. When the heart is open we receive and give love all the time but our heart can be closed because of our life experience so we have to work on it. Love generates love, it is not enough just to love, we must become love.

I am inspired by that belief. I am also inspired by the people who get off the ditch and do something about issues, whoever they are. I would like to see people getting more radical as they age, we have less and less to lose as we stand up for human rights and human dignity.

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What advice would you share with others setting out on their own entrepreneurial path? 

I would say, listen, listen deeply, listen to all the people on the margins they are the people who understand society and how it does and doesn’t work, and listen to yourself, be guided by your own intuition, but be guided also by good factual knowledge. Be guided by evidence.

Anything else you’d like to add? 

I would like to see as people get older that they will use their wisdom to help those who are younger. I would like to see a public role for older men and women, we have a lot to offer, we have seen several recessions, we vote and politicians are a bit afraid of us. We should encourage them to involve us more and give us a way of speaking out.

Life is about progressing humanly and spiritually, that is the work of a lifetime. To grow spiritually and humanly is to grow in love. Spirituality is the message of love, it is opening our heart.  As older people we can stop caring about what people think about us, we can stop thinking about success. It is an opportunity for expansive thinking. Being older is an opportunity to help people to understand the meaning of active citizenship. It is an opportunity for people to help younger people to have a more robust approach to political and civic life. Dreaming dreams of a better future should not be the prerogative of the young.

….

Thank you so much Sr Stan for your continued work, inspiration and example to others.

Find out more about St Stan on her website over here.

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One Wild Life + 10: Taddy Blecher

OWL +10 template 2

 

Ten years ago I set out on a journey across the globe to interview social entrepreneurs about their life stories. I travelled for 11 months, across 17 countries, interviewing nearly 200 people. I took hundreds of photos, travelled thousands of miles, laughed, cried and learned so much about the world, myself, and what it takes follow through on a dream- mine and theirs.

That journey became ‘One Wild Life’, a book published by The Collins Press in 2009, which in turn, has travelled the globe. The stories of these change makers have reached school children, policy makers, presidents, educators and fellow entrepreneurs, among others, as the book made it’s way to people who themselves have a deep longing to make a difference. I still get emails from readers across the world who have been moved or touched by the stories in the book. This has to be one of the best feelings in the world!

So ten years on, I am curious to revisit these stories– Where are these people now? What lessons have they learned? What has changed? And what advice or insights can they offer to us as we collectively embark on a new phase of history, challenge and opportunity.

And so, I am in the process of tracking down as many of the interviewees as possible. This time it’s a little different though. I’ve sent them some questions, to which they are offering replies. Over the coming months I’ll be sharing the interviews weekly and at the end will be looking for patterns, themes and trends.

Ten years seems like nothing and forever all in one. So much has happened, so much change, so much learning, and yet the lessons from that journey are still living in me, unfolding each day at a time. The past is never really past, just a work in progress.

And so I hope you’ll join me in this current iteration of the investigation! (#onewildlife10)

……

Dr. Taddy Blecher

Maharishi Institute, South Africa

 

Dr Taddy Blecher PhotoFirst up in the interview series is Dr. Taddy Blecher in South Africa.

It seems fitting that Taddy is first in this series, as it was reading about his work that was one of the sparks for the original journey. Back then Taddy was the CEO of CIDA City Campus, which was pioneering a new model of affordable, accessible third level business education in South Africa. Since then he has gone on to be one of the leading global voice on education reform.

Soon after meeting Taddy he went on to launch a new educational institution, the Maharishi Institute, which has the aim of educating 100,000 leaders for the future of South Africa. Significantly the institute considers personal develop and work experience as central to its educational tenets. It’s “Pay it Forward” philosophy helps to ensure that thousands of young people who would ordinarily not have access to third level opportunities are now getting a chance through an ingenious peer to peer support model, which in turn is pioneer new ways in which third level education is funded and sustained.

Taddy is also co-founder of the Branson School of Entrepreneurship and is the recipient of numerous awards and honours including the Skoll Entrepreneur Award and the Global Leader of Tomorrow Award from the World Economic Forum.

Reading Taddy’s update is a huge reminder to me in the power of a big vision and big numbers, and how that vision is accelerated when embodied and conscious-raising practices such as meditation are integrated into the root of education. It was a pleasure meeting Taddy in Johannesburg back in 2006, and it is an equal pleasure to hear of his amazing progress and commitment ten years on…

And so, without further ado and with deep appreciate for his work and that of his team, over to Taddy.

How has your path shifted and evolved since I interviewed you for One Wild Life? Where are you now and what are you working on?

It is the same path but more evolved.

Ten years ago, I was in the planning stages for the Maharishi Institute (MI) – in June 2017, MI will be 10 years old and what a journey of learning and growth it has been. MI was donated a huge building in downtown Joburg, which we have been renovating over the years, and it currently is home to over 650 young people who are completing their studies via distance education with the Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, USA.

As CEO, I have moved from day-to-day operational management, to working on the long-term sustainability of the institute, with the goal of making it the first self-sustaining educational institution in the world.

Since we first started in year 2000, across all our programmes we have started, we have assisted 15,250 unemployed youth to access education and jobs. They earn close to R1 billion combined salaries per annum and we estimate they will earn R23 billion conservatively over their working careers.

Our target is to educate and train 100,000 leaders for the future of Africa, who will ultimately earn one trillion Rand over their working careers. Funds that will transform the lives of poor communities and bring them into the middle class.

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What are some of your highlights of the past 10 years?

We have held three graduation ceremonies and shortly the fourth for the Maharishi Institute, and each one is an amazingly happy celebration of achievement, success despite the odds and incredibly proud moments when parents embrace the first graduate in their family. This makes all the hard work worthwhile.

Over the past 10 years we have partnered with some incredible companies and people, and the relationships that have developed have been phenomenal. So many people truly believe in what we are doing and are willing to partner with us on the journey that it makes the trip very exciting.

A recent highlight is we have passed the ‘tipping point’ threshold from a quantum physics point of view to make Johannesburg ‘Invincible’. This is a theoretical basis which requires a group of advanced TM (transcendental meditation) practitioners. So for the population of 4.5 million people in Johannesburg, we have seen it going from the ‘murder capital’ of the world 10-years ago, to not in the top ‘50 murder cities’ in the world.

Also in development:

  • We have an MOU with the Department of Basic Education to provide technical support to the initiative of introducing a project-based entrepreneurship curriculum into all schools in the country.
  • The target over the next 15-years is to ultimately reach 12 million children per annum across 27,000 different schools. This has emerged from work I was asked to under the auspices of the former Deputy President to Chair a National Government Task Team in the Human Resources Development Council (HRDC) on Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship.
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What have been some of the challenges of the past 10 years? What would you have done differently?

Overall its been a total joy! Every challenge has turned out to be a blessing!

There is ALWAYS a solution.

Funding is always a challenge and is becoming less of a day to day concern as we approach and manage to achieve sustainability. Aiming towards becoming self-sustainable is incredibly hard-work but I know that it will be worth it when we achieve it.

Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to yourself 10 years ago?

Just keep going! You are so on the right track! ☺

Graduation - Class of 2015

What do you see as some of today’s global challenges and what opportunities do you see?

With the increase in digital access, there are a lot of opportunities opening to impact people. At the same time, digital access can lose the high-touch human approach, which is one of the factors that makes MI work better than a public university.

We need a more enlightened approach to education that facilitates human Evolution at a great speed, alongside the technological revolution taking place.

Over the last 10 year the field of social entrepreneurship has evolved and got better known and supported. What would you say is the next stage of growth for the field and what are some of the main questions or challenges which it faces?

It is true, and its largely thanks to the work of the Skoll Foundation and other great organisations like Ashoka, Echoing Green, Aspen and others also playing a great role.

The next phase is for Social Entrepreneurs to support each other more, and I am a co-founder and on the global board of an initiative called Tendrel  a global organisation for Social Entrepreneurs to support each other using YPO Forum methodology. Its one year old and we are in 9 cities in the world already with over 100 members. It will grow to thousands in over 50-cities.

Also, the next phase is system change on two levels: 1) working with and transforming government policy and implementation practice; 2) Creating a tipping point in cities, states, countries, continents and globally in collective consciousness

Some research I’m interested in is how social entrepreneurs can actually be the best partners and supporters of each others’ work. SE’s can also work together enrolling key eco-system players to bring greater levels of systems change.

Another trend is the big push towards ‘merged models’ which are more financially sustainable.

Maharishi Institute building

Why do you continue to do what you do? And how do you sustain yourself in the process?

As an organisation we have a vision to create 100,000 future leaders for Southern Africa, so while we have reached more than 15,000 to date, we have a long way to go. Knowing that the future of these young people and their families are changed forever through employment, studies, and personal mastery, is a very strong motivating factor.

What advice would you share with others setting out on their own entrepreneurial path?

When you know what you really want to do with your life, then ‘jump off a cliff’. You have to just do it. Anything less is not worthy of who you are and what you were born to do.

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Anything else you’d like to add?

A bit more info about Maharishi Institute- to give you a better understanding

We offer University access opportunities to unemployed young people who either couldn’t afford university, or 70% of whom don’t have the school-leaving results to be allowed into University
We provide: education, books and study materials, a daily meal, work experience, counselling, job placement on graduation
The Institute offers Consciousness-Based Education, a loving, holistic student-centred approach to learning that starts with developing the inner Consciousness of every student twice daily with Transcendental Meditation and the advanced TM Sidhis programme. Our cost of this Education package is one-quarter currently of public institutions
“Learn and Earn” ensures that students work while studying to earn a stipend, and pay ‘it forward’ on their fees account; it also ensures that on graduation students have work experience making them highly marketable
“Pay it forward” is an agreement between all students and MII whereby all students commit to funding another student once they have started working to ensure that someone else (the student can nominate a family member or anyone else) is able to have the same opportunity they did.  In this way the funds are not lost and always keep re-cycling, so if you sponsor one student, in time that becomes two, then three, and so on.
We are working to become the first self-funding University programmes in the world for historically disadvantaged youth, where the institution can sustain itself without any funding from government or from the students’ tuition fees which is the traditional two income sources for a University

MI choir
BEE

** All photos courtesy of The Maharishi Institute. Photographer credit unknown.

Thank you so much Taddy- it is so brilliant to learn more about you work, impact, ideas and vision.
And yes, there is always a solution, and yes to more enlightened approaches to education, as that feeds into all growth, change and development. Onwards.

Clare xx

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Tune in next week for another interview in the One Wild Life + 10 series.


The Stories we tell Ourselves

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“A people are as healthy and confident as the stories they tell themselves. Sick storytellers can make nations sick… Stories can conquer fear, you know. They can make the heart larger.” – Ben Okra

Greetings to you on this mid-November day, and a nod to all my US friends celebrating Thanksgiving.

Today I saw a little bullfinch and a pheasant. I fed donkeys and ducks. I had a conversation with an elderly man about his travels in the 60s. He told me stories of seeing a tiger in the wilds of India, and how when he was a child he used to memorise advertisements on buses to pass the time- he proceeded to recite one to me. Today I also had a conversation with a woman in her 60s about how, when she was younger, she spent 5 years sailing around the world, and how just three years ago, she sailed from the Marshall Islands to Vanuatu. She told me that living on a boat, with limited resources and space, has been one of her biggest lessons in life as now she can live almost anywhere and does not need as much space or things which has liberated her from her perception of need. She radiates joy and compassion.  As does he.

Those little stories and encounters have changed my day.

You see, I’d started the day tuning into the media, and we all know what happens when that door is opened. I soon found myself down that tunnel of darkness, threading the fine line of cynicism which has been chasing my tail these last few weeks. What I also know is stepping across that line is a conscious choice and I have a choice not to go there, and actively tune in elsewhere; to the stories around me, to the moments of beauty and surprise, and to the conversations and questions which point to another narrative, one which mainstream media does not broadcast.

There are stories everywhere and our stories matter. They matter more than ever. What we speak about, what we amplify, what we tune into, what we choose to respond to. I’ve been remembering that quote from Ben Okri – ‘A people are as healthy and confident as the stories they tell themselves. Sick storytellers can make nations sick… Stories can conquer fear, you know. They can make the heart larger’

We have another choice too- perhaps a more challenging and daunting one: to be part of creating a new narrative- one which will conquer fear and expand the heart- our own, and others. Like the best stories this new narrative will not have a linear or predicable plot, it will keep us in suspense and will have twists and turns and complex characters. Writing it won’t be easy, but write we can.

When I am feeling stuck I often take to me journal and ask my inner self or mentor, for answers. To the question of, ‘Well, what should I write?’ This time my inner mentor responded”

The question is not what you should write, but how should you serve. 

You serve by following the questions.
You serve by giving your talents, your gifts, your capacities.
You serve by being awake.
You offer what you know and then you let go of it again.
You learn, over and over.
You embrace this life fully and vibrantly.
You feel it all. All of it, and offer that.
You move deeper.
You don’t turn away.
You stand for something.
You shake it up until it rattles you.
You rattle.
And above all you create.
Above all that you keep going.
And most importantly you bring your love
And through that love is devotion.
And there is your faith.
Your faith is not lost.
Your faith is in action.
Your action is your question.
Your questions will lead the way.… 

So now I’ve a ton of questions about how I can be a part of creating this new narrative. Interestingly they are not Why questions but How and What questions.

  • What should I do next?
  • Who should I support?
  • What is the best use of my time and resources?
  • What is needed most?
  • In what ways can I best sustain myself?
  • Who should I be connecting with…
  • What can I offer..

So while the stories can conquer fear, so too can the questions, because the questions lead us onwards, into the story, and then beyond.

But right now, I hear the donkey’s calling. It is dusk and the ducks needs to be fed. This is the story of the way of the things and it needs tending too.

Clare xx


It matters more than ever…

blog it matters more than ever

 

This post originally started as a message to the Thrive School members. On the day after the US election was called, in a bit of a whirl, I wrote this..

Have you been in a bit of a frazzle today? I have. All these scenarios started swirling, and I could feel a cynicism sweep in. But I know I need to nip cynicism quickly – it only fuels a downward spiral. I knew I needed to hop on my yoga mat, let the clicks and tension in my body release, and listen. I sat in silence for a very long time. And in that time, I found new fuel- a deep realisation that the work we are doing is even MORE important.

It is the work of connection, values, beauty making. It is the rising of the feminine, the building of bridges, the creation of alternatives, the celebration of diversity and plurality. It is about learning the skills we all need to navigate internal and external chaos and it is about creating the conversations that are necessary to build new leadership – for ourselves, our communities and beyond. Our work matters. It matters even more than ever.

Time feels precious though and with that preciousness a renewed sense of urgency. So, whether you are making art, creative spaces of stillness, writing your truth, inviting in conversations which honour the earth, innovating new technologies, or offering healing, you are also offering hope…. and hope, as we know, is a verb. As love is. And verbs mean action. Those elegant next steps? They matter more than ever…

It can be so easy to feel overwhelmed, uncertain, cynical. What we choose to give our attention to matters. What we choose to create matters more than ever. 

So this week, can we steer our attention in the direction of beauty, notice it, amplify it in even the smallest of ways, and can we each take the next elegant step that we know is ours to take. One elegant step at a time…

Onwards. It matters more than ever.


Learning to do Business and Life as Unusual

Thrive School main banner
As you know, starting your own project or business is not easy. It brings up a whole host of questions and challenges. It brings up internal fears, vulnerabilities and doubts. There are logistic challenges, timing issues, design issues. There are lots of ‘what’s, how’s and why’s’.

It has been 7 months since I launched Thrive School and in that time it has been evolving, and I have been evolving too. One of my benchmarks for learning is when new questions show up. If I’ve no new questions then I’m not entering new territories of growth and development. At the moment, I have a ton of new questions!

Thrive School emerged from a vision to create networks of dreamers and do’ers; people who have a passion and drive to make a difference through their lives and work, and naturally have lots of questions too. I know that the questions can be overwhelming when we don’t have support, community and a framework for asking them. So in many ways Thrive School is evolving into that- a place to ask questions, learn through them and in doing so expand what is possible for each of us. It’s a place to evolve our dreams, ideas and ultimately ourselves too.

And so Thrive School a much about how we learn as what we learn. The how is so important as is will impact on our future how- how we bring the learning from the programme into our projects and lives. Here’s a few principles behind the Thrive School ‘how’, and why we think they matter….

 

Values based development

Think of your values like the keel of a ship. Our values help to keep us upright, especially in choppy waters. They give us weight, and support, and around them we can build our ship and sail it. Gaining a understanding of your personal values and how they impact and influence the business or project you are designing is critical to your own personal sanity and the project’s sustainability. Our values help to keep us grounded and on track. They help us to value our time, ourselves, our products and our pricing. They are the foundation stone and so we start there.

Life and Learning happens in cycles

Transformational learning is not a linear process. We learn in cycles and spirals. Sometimes we need to make the same mistake a few times before we really learn how to navigate the challenge in a fundamentally different way. Learning is accelerated when we take a cyclical approach: conscious action, then review, then adaption before we take action again. This way our learning is taken out of a linear process and into a spiral. This is the learning not just of growth but of adaptability and flexibility- two key skills necessary for any business or venture to thrive.

Structures Create Flow and Freedom

So many of us strive for freedom- freedom from 9-5, freedom from debt, freedom from certain external demands. Think of a bird- for it to fly a bird needs to instinctively know and respect the structure which the dynamics of wind currents, gravity and physics impose. It’s by embracing these that flight is championed. Our ultimate freedom comes when we understand and embrace the structures which work best for us. What boundaries do we need to have around our time, for instance; or what perameters do we need have around our spending and savings to give rise to financial flow. It’s the boundaries that give rise to the freedoms that we choose.

Energy management, not time management

Life happens in seasons and cycles. There are weeks when we have more energy and weeks when we have less. There is a season to launch something, and a season for letting go. Gaining a deeper appreciation of our own energy cycles helps us to move our days in relationship with what we are creating.

Peer to Peer and non ‘expert’ driven discussion and feedback loops

We are our own experts. The age of the guru is dead. At Thrive School we celebrate and honour expertise, know we each have something to offer. No one person has the ‘right’ answer for you- only you do, but we can listen to each other, learn from each other, and each strive for our own version of excellence.

Prototype, iteration, experimentation and play

We grow our ventures through cycles of experimentation, iteration and prototyping- each one building upon the next, which gives rise to the next. We encourage early prototyping, trying something small out, then making adjustments. We dream big but understand that it will take iterations to get there.

Time is precious

Our time is one of the most precious things we have. Time for ourselves, our families, our friends, our communities, our hobbies. There is a lot to pack in. At Thrive School we look at how we can best  value our time by developing business services, products and offering which respect our expertise and reflect back to us the value which we bring to the world.

Elegant next steps

Our big vision is powerful but we get there one step at a time. What is your elegant next step?… we ask this over and over of each other. And yes, we believe the process can be beautiful and elegant too.

 

These are just some of the core principles. As the school evolves, so too will they. This is learning in action, one elegant next step at a time.

… 

 

 The next 5 month Thrive School programme is about to happen in  DUBLIN.

Applications are open until noon on Tuesday 1st November.

 Apply online here now. 

Not in Ireland and interested in Thrive School? Stay in touch… I’m looking at ways to bring the material to a wider audience- it’s in evolution too. And if you’d like to offer me your input or ideas please do share with me via email: clare (at) claremulvany.ie – thank you!

Clare. xx


Curiosity Map

Curiosity Map

 

Something a little different on the blog today, a video!

There are many things which spark our interests. We all have passion and wonder within us. We all have a sense of curiosity. But at times each of us finds it hard to figure out our next moves.

And so, may I introduce ‘The Curiosity Map’ – a simple coaching tool to help you figure out your own next step and to nudge yourself gently onwards, carrying your sense of wonder with you.

This video was recorded about a year and a half ago, originally as part of my online Living Seasonally course. I have since got a dog and I have since set up Thrive School – just two of the things that made their way onto my map. It reminds me that what we focus on is so important. Our words are our maps.

Summary of the Curiosity Map process:

 

Step One: Brain dumb mind map – what is zooming around in there. Get it down on paper.

Step Two: What are the conversations you have been having this week. Trace the stories that you are telling…

Step Three: Compare the lists from step one and step two. Where is the overlap? Notice the patterns and themes which are emerging.

Step Four: Ask yourself, what one little step can I take on one of these overlapping areas.

Step Five: Take that step.

Step Six: Rinse and Repeat

 

Now over to you- start mapping- and hope you enjoy the process.

(PS: Yikes, it takes courage to share videos. Go me! And Go you too!)

Onwards,

Clare. x

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Thrive School Dublin starts in just a few weeks time. It’s 5 months of deep diving into your vision and mapping it out with the support, focus and skills to get you there. Applications open. More info here.


Writing the Way to our Answers

 

On Writing our Way to our Answers

Friends,

How are you? Really, I want to know.

What’s on your mind? What keeps you up at night? What questions do you carry? What is your heart longing to say? What is it that you want to birth? What is it that you want to jettison?  What is it that you plan to do with your own wild and precious life? 

Why do I ask? For many reasons.

I’ve been asking these questions of myself, and I suspect I’m not the only one.

You see, I’m marking several thresholds. Firstly, it’s been six months since I made the big move out of Dublin down to the wilds of West Cork. I’ve had six month of open landscape and big skies, of wild encounters and starry nights. I’ve had six months of coastal walks and hedgerow viewing, and each time I’m out in nature it seems like I am seeing it all for the first time-  it always seems like the first time, for it always is. The new is in the way the light arrives each day, or the uprising of a wave, or the tumble of cloud or the particular shade of green at that particular moment. Six months seems like nothing at all but it is enough for me to realise that the space has been releasing me from certain ideas I’ve had of myself, or even certain ambitions, and in turning inwards I am finding the energy and drive to turn outwards again, reimagined. It is exciting, and daunting, and I am so so grateful for this space, this landscape and this remarkable piece of land I get to inhabit for a while…

I’m stepping over another threshold too. It’s been 10 years since I started blogging, and 10 years since I set out on my crazy journey to write what was to become the book ‘One Wild Life’. It is so hard to believe it has been 10 years. (I have a surprise down the line for you all on that matter by the way- it is in development, so watch this space).  As I cross the threshold I have been reflecting in my journal on my journey since then; what I have learned, how I have changed, and what now wants to emerge.

I realise that I must have written hundreds of thousands of words over these 10 years, many of which were discarded, many of which sit in journals, some of which wound their way into blog posts or articles- yet each word in itself, whether kept or unkept, remembered or forgotten, is somehow life-giving. I say that even though I’ve abandoned two books in the last few years, and burnt the whole manuscript of my first novel. Yes, gone.

But they are not really gone. It is just that the form I was placing upon them was forced, and the words I was choosing to share were not really the true ones. I was pushing them into a shape that they didn’t fit into. And beyond that, I was scared to let them take me to my edge, to that raw place of truth and beauty were great writing goes. Now I know that the fear is a signpost; it tells me I am on to a good thing, the honest thing, the brave thing, the uncomfortable thing, the thing that pushes as my edges and takes me outside myself to be able to go inside myself with more force, grace and determination. And so in a funny way my fear tells me to trust that more words will come, and those words will change me. What shape they land in doesn’t really matter because the words in themselves are the life-giving force. The words themselves generate. They carry new ideas, insights, possibilities, connections. It is in the writing that the magic happens.

And yet, there is power too in the witness. When we do choose to put our words into the world, we never really no where they’ll land, who they’ll touch, how they may stir things, who they could infuriate or who they will resonate with. Whatever happens afterwards is beyond us. In the space between us and the reader is another clink of magic.

So I know words matter and I sense that how they land is out of our control. But what I think really matters is that we write them in the first place; for the love of it, for the connection to our creativity and our fear, and for the fundamental need to give voice to our voice. While I have not always been entirely consistent with mine, writing has given me a channel to my voice and a place where I have full expression. It’s both liberating, and connecting, and yes, I repeat, life-giving.

And so I ask again.

What’s on your mind? What keeps you up at night? What questions do you carry? What is your heart longing to say? What is it that you want to birth? What is it that you want to jettison?  What is it that you want to do with your own wild and precious life? 

Write it out, my friends, write it out out out. Listen to the place where fear tells you to go. Listen to the places of solace too, for you’ll be writing your very own map to your own answers. It’s your personal guide and who knows where it will land you.

And if you need a witness, I’m also here. I’d love to read what you have to say. So, feel free to write to me my friends… What’s on your mind? What keeps you up at night? What questions do you carry? What is your heart longing to say? What is it that you want to birth? What is it that you want to jettison?  What is it that you want to do with your own wild and precious life?

Replies to clare (at) claremulvany.ie

I’m curious to see where this takes you. And me.

Onwards,

Clare xx

 

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(And for a little musical treat, I heard Ger Wolfe perform in Levis Corner House in Ballydehob on Sunday Night, and this song, with all its magical simplicity and charm, had me in tears. So if you need some respite from all the questions, for the TV, from the radio, from the government, from the crazy times, may this be it! )

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Thrive School is DUBLIN and CORK is open for applications. How about 5 months to dive into your dreams, vision and a support structure to bring your plans to life. Find out more and apply online here.


Doing the things that make our hearts beat faster… 

doing the things that make our hearts beat faster

It is about connection. It is about creating. It is about following those lines or curiosity until they take you to the next path, then the next.

The things that makes your heart beat faster? Well, they are the things that bring a sparkle to your eye, make you want to keep going, make you feel alive at a soul level, that essential level, that place that you know is home.

I want more of these moments in my life because it’s the moments that make a life. So I ask myself, what am I willing to let go of in order to allow them to enter. What can I re-shuffle? What edge can I step towards? And where is my deep yes.

Making a list of the things, those heart beating moments, brings me closer. The list helps to take us to them because writing them down makes them visible, and where it’s visible we can focus.

So here are some of mine… the deep yes, the beat enduring moments: 

It’s those times when I’m listening to someone share their honest, open, brave, raw, indomitable truth – the kind that not only makes my heart beat faster but rips it open too.

It is those moments when I’m painting, about to do the final flick or make brave stroke that will either make it or break it.

It’s when I’m writing and I feel that the words are flowing through me, as if gifted from another.

It is when I reach out to someone I admire and get a loving response.

It is those times on the yoga mat, especially when I have resisted being there, when my body and bones come to a place of surrender and release, clicking itself back into alignment

It’s in the meeting of a stranger, when in a look, an instant, you know you have a friend – that look offers a safe passage to a knowing which time and distance bear no consequence.

It’s with camera in hand, when light is *just perfect* and with a timely click, the elegant and mystical can creep through the lens.

It is those racing moments before I launch- a project, a website, a new offering- when ALL the fear and vulnerability is shouting into the inner chambers of my being while simultaneously waving the red button before my fingertips. Click.

It is sitting in stillness, in silence, until I can hear the sound of my own beat.

It is that second when driving across the Irish landscape an opening occurs-  a parting of clouds or the way the light gathers on the green and heather, setting it aglow.

It is just before I’m about to speak in front of a group, especially when I know what I’m about to say is not necessarily the easiest, or most popular, but wants to be said.

It is travelling to a new place, knowing no one, but trusting I soon will.

It is pressing publish.

 

And yours?

 

Go ahead, give yourself a few minutes with your journal to remind yourself what your heart is calling for. What will make you feel alive? You are already close to it. The list will help to take closer. And remember: in the writing it become visible, and where it is visible we can focus.

…..

 

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The Anatomy of Thriving 

The anatomy of thriving insta

 

What does it mean to really Thrive? How does it feel in the body? And how can we thrive in both business and life?

We were huddled around the table at the last Thrive School gathering when the idea of collectively creating an ‘Anatomy of Thriving’ came to us. It was a way of opening up the conversation about what it means to really thrive as we create our own ventures.

So often on the entrepreneurial journey personal wellbeing is sacrificed in the face of financial or social goals. We can drive projects onwards to the point that we may have a thriving business but we are left depleted. Or we may be so cautious about expending our own energy or stepping out of our comfort zone that we don’t manage to build the momentum needed to carry our creative energy and momentum forward. So where’s the balance? And what are the ingredients to that sweet spot of thriving?

I rolled out a long piece of paper and drew the outline of a body (which we reckoned looked more like a flat Morph than anything human, but none the less…. )

Here’s some of the thriving elements we came up with. It’s a collective work in progress, a Thrive School prototype. As it stands, a helpful guide. I’d love to hear what you’d add too….

Stay earthed: It’s that ground beneath your feet. It’s your community. It’s your sense of place. It’s your values. It’s your gravity and your gravitas. To rise one must first root.

Take the first step: You may not know the final form, but your first step will help determine it. The first step can be tiny. Take it. Reach out to another. Send that email. Ask that question.

Create boundaries: Boundaries may be conversations you need to have with potential partners, or the way you structure your time. They may be decisions  about who you share your dreams with. It may even be how much sleep you get. Your boundaries, like the banks in a river, help to give you momentum and direction. Build some. Let them guide you.

Follow your Gut: More often than not your gut is right. It’s the primary and visceral response. Does it feel right in your gut- then it probably is. Does it feel wrong or wary? Then it probably is too…

Be young at heart: Play. Prototype. Experiment. Where’s the fun in it? Fun is a signpost too. It’s there to be followed.

Try your hand: Give it a go. If it fails you can give something else a go. There is learning in that, and where there is learning there is growth.

Amplify your voice: Your story is your gold. You’re worth the weight of it. Get to know the nuances of your own story and then let your voice carry you onwards. Always.

Open your Eyes: There are opportunities everywhere. See patterns. See connections. Join the dots. Make the connections. Observe, then act.

Allow trust to infiltrate everywhere: Trust is the weave of connection between it all. Trust your gut, trust your instinct. Trust that there will be people to guide you and support you. Trust will lead you in the right direction. Trust is the currency of action. Believe in goodness.

Now over to you? What would you add? Dissect away..

Interested in Thrive School? Applications are now open for new cohorts on Cork and Dublin. Apply online here. We start in Cork on Oct 15th and Dublin on Nov 6th

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What to do on a slump day…

What to do on a slump day

 

We all have them- those days we’d rather not. The day the internal weather turns on us and we’d rather hide.

I had one last week. It had started with big intentions-  to get up early, to do yoga, to dive into work and turn up my energy and productivity. It didn’t happen. I fell back asleep. I did a very brief bit of yoga. I felt resistance to being at my laptop. I ate cake.

Working for myself I try to put best habits in place, be consistent and show up to my work with gratitude for the opportunity and the freedom. But that day, quite simply, I didn’t want to. I wanted to hide. I wanted companionship and I started to question it ALL.

What does it matter in the bigger scheme of things? And I doing the real and important work? Does what I do make any difference at all? Who am I kidding?

The latter question in particular is an open door to my inner critic. For me it’s the ‘your so lazy you’ll never get there’ voice. And when that voice starts it gives rise to lots of others. There is the ‘imposter voice’- this is the ‘who do you think you are’ voice. Then there is the voice which is constantly worrying about building my business and finance- this is the voice which says ‘here you go again, it will never work’.  Then there is the more personal one that thinks I’ll be single and alone for the rest of my life- the ‘you’re not good enough voice’. Pretty soon there is a party in my head and the chatter so deafening it is no wonder I want to hide.

It turns out though that most of us have parties in our head. I know of no person who doesn’t experience it from time to time; and of course, I know for some people, the conversation is so loud it challenges longer term function.

What I say now is directed towards the days when you do feel in a slump, and need to find ways to quite the critic. That voice is so sabotaging, and learning to manage it and speak calmly to it is one of the most valuable learning adventures we can go on.

Here are a some of the few ways I find useful. It’s not a definitive list and quite personal to me, so I’d love to hear yours too… 

 Go for a walk

Nature has so many answers for us. The rhythm of the day, the pattern of the seasons, the crest of a wave reminds us that everything passes. The voice will pass too. When I put my ear up against a gush of wind or the whirl of the sea, the inner voice softens and I hear a deeper wisdom, ‘this too shall pass’.

Open the ‘cheerleading folder’ 

I have a folder in in email account called ‘cheerleaders’. These are emails I have kept on file from friends, readers and clients who say the good things. They are reminders of the small or big ways my work has reached and influenced them. They are like electronic bouncing castles for the spirit. Everyone should have a cheerleading folder!

Name the inner critic

Give that voice a name, an actual name, like Betty or Bob, or Hilda. When the voice arrives, welcome it and say, ’Here’s Hilda again, I wonder what’s up with her today’, then thank her and ask her to leave now because you are busy and have work to do. Naming the voice does’t deny it but does help to put it in its place. It helps to separate yourself from it too and opens some space from a more positive reaction and response.

Do a job on your list that you enjoy 

So maybe the day that your inner critic is speaking loudly is a day you have all the nasty jobs on your list. Scrap that. Instead, do a job that brings you joy, or if it’s not a job, ring a person that brings you joy. Or if not a person, dance in the kitchen, sing in the bath, jump up and down, shake something out. Some action is important. Physical activity really helps. Chats with good friends can work wonders too. Share it, shake it!

Write it out

Journal. Journal. Journal. Scribble. Getting the voice on paper is another way of distancing it. If it is on paper it’s not in your head- or at least not in your head as much.

Shake up your environment, shake up your routine

Walk to work the same route every morning? Change your direction.

Sit at the same place in your house if you are working from home? Move. Work in the garden, or in the bathtub, or on the floor. Changing your external perspective can help to shift your internal perspective. I love to go to a coffee shop and work there too, depending on my mood.

Get off your screens

Turn off your phone, laptop, tv and social media. There are so many messages swarming at us that on days when we are not in great headspace they are amplified and can be so utterly tormenting. Reducing tech stimulation helps to quiet the mind. When it’s not possible to entirely switch off, can you become more aware of your reading and viewing patterns, and limit the time you are using?

Get dressed up

Even if you are working from home, get dressed as if you are going to a really important meeting, or date! Put on the good clothes, put on the red lipstick (or whatever your equivalent is!) , brush your hair. Showing up to yourself, especially on the days when you couldn’t be bothered, helps you to see yourself differently. The inner critic hates that…

Give in (for a day… )

Somedays it just doesn’t budge or you don’t have the energy. Let the day slide. Stay in bed. Go to the cinema. Give yourself permission to have a slow day… the inner critic loves to chime in when you are tired but feeling obliged to be full of energy. Giving ourselves permission is one of the biggest game changers, and one of the hardest to implement… so before you go to bed that night, set some intentions for the following day. Plan your schedule. Set your outfit out and pre-empt some of the critic thoughts. Tomorrow is always another day.

And when all else fails, find a puppy! 

It’s hard to be down when there is a little playful animal around! For me, it’s Milly. On days when I just don’t feel up for anything, she still demands love, attention, cuddles and walks. In giving them I receive then all too… and somehow the slump is de-slumped!

Over to you.. any thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions? 

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Thrive School potential 2Thrive School is soon coming to Cork and Dublin. It’s a 5 month programme to build momentum, learn strategies to design your life and business and take your elegant next steps with grit and grace… Find out more over here. 

 

 

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