Type of Fellowship: Specialist
Year of Fellowship: 2015
Forces in Mind Fellow (Forces in Mind Trust)
Love everyone, Trust Few & Paddle your own canoe
The Clore Social call to Know Yourself, Be Yourself & Look after Yourself, sounds so simple an undertaking. It’s easy to think we’ve got it covered. If you like me have done some mindfulness training, are an occasional mediator, gig attendee and countryside walker then you too perhaps feel you are looking after yourself. And maybe you are. But how many of us really value ourselves as much as we value others. How many of us give the same level of care to ourselves as to partners, children, friends and family?
Since my next ‘big birthday’ is not 40 I can no longer procrastinate about what I will do when I grow up! I do not want to regret the decisions I make but neither do I want to overburden myself. Though I have often told myself with some quiet voice, the needs of my family or friends, colleagues and the people I work to support with supersede my own.
The Fellowship is teaching me that I do not have to ignore others for the sake of myself; it is in fact just the opposite. Social leaders need to remember who we are, what we are passionate about and think and act in ways that reinforce those values. As one of our Clore Social facilitators reminded us: ‘Be yourself, more, with skill.
What I have learnt about being a leader in the past few months is how to work on being the best version of myself, how to further develop my skills, knowledge and experience. At the outset I wondered if the Fellowship was designed to mold fellows into particular model of a ‘social leader’. I wondered how I would fit into this model; luckily I have not had to force change.
Change programmes can often be based on models made with scant consultation and driven by individual views of morality, what defines deviance and ‘good citizenship’. An individual’s ‘conceptual baggage’, their sense of what is correct, proper and acceptable can widely differ and needs to be acknowledged deeply. It is vital that we do not attempt to colonise other people’s stories with our conceptual baggage, nor build our careers on exploiting access to the vulnerabilities of others. There needs to be recognition of the trust people may put into us and an authenticity about our practice in this sector that acknowledges our privilege in being turned to for help.
For me, a social leader is someone who observes, reflects and acts. All of these tasks represent a different skill set and in organisations different people may be best place to observe context, research and collate. Someone else may reflect, undertaking analysis of the issues presented and yet another person undertakes to apply this learning to practice.
A social leader is often called on to do all three of these things simultaneously. They need to understand context and analysis, scope and appraise practical solutions whilst also leading their application to practice. This is a skill set that takes time, experience and humility to master and requires of us that we do indeed ‘know ourselves, be ourselves and look after ourselves’. It is also a way of being that requires collaboration, authentic self-care and knowing when to stop.
Current principal role: Senior Research Fellow / Lecturer
Current principal organisation: Staffordshire university
Other leadership role 1: Unit leader research methodology in addiction
Other organisation 1: Action on Addiction
Other leadership role 2: Senior Research Fellow
Other organisation 2: Staffordshire University IEPR RECOVEU
Research: What more can we do to support ex-Services personnel? An Investigation into Post Traumatic Growth and the role of Expert Companions
Secondment host: SSAFA