Frozen sandwiches and one serious wild leader

Clarity.  Really knowing the value of not knowing.  Decisive and confident decision making.  Knowing the changes she needed to make in life.  An 2015 all-female Artic expedition gave Sue all of this.

No-one was more surprised about her application than she was.  ‘I didn’t even like the cold’.  Hearing the company announcement about the expedition, Sue knew instantly that she would sign-up.  It wasn’t an achievement thing.  She just knew she wanted to be part of it.

We met in Bracknell Forest, less than 3 miles from the centre of Bracknell, this oasis of 11 square kilometers gave us the space to nip in a quick 13k, and explore the impact of this Arctic experience on Sue’s leadership.

Being a reservist initially, not knowing was a key theme of the gruelling 6 months training.  The importance of being a team-player became clear in Sue’s delight at being given a place 10 days before the start.

Back at her desk, after 11 days of eating frozen food, and surviving -50, Sue noticed she was being even more decisive than usual.  She had a new found clarity.

 

 

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Wild inspiration in Barcelona

IMG_3767What’s your legacy?

Stimulating as it was, I was nature-starved during a February city break Barcelona.  Despondent, and craving a connection with my current work around ‘wild leadership’, I felt nothing.

There was ‘wild’ in the art and the history but I was craving an intense shot of the nature.  A couple of dusty trees and squawking parakeets weren’t doing it for me.

Until the Joan Miro Fundacio, a well-funded and visionary art foundation established by the artist himself in the 70’s, knocked me off my feet.

On our last day, their latest temporary exhibit was opening.  ‘Beehave’.  It makes me feel provocative just reading the title.  I don’t want to behave.  But, I had that feeling.  I needed to go.  The life of bees, quite interesting – but I was surprised by my strength of urge to go.

Wow.  The power of cultural leadership.  Into a modern-architect designed gallery, was a mind-blowing exhibition.  Sensory story-telling.  A visceral experience of being a bee!  To enter their world.  And so we did.

Sticking my head into a plastic sphere of fresh mimosa, I knew what it was to get up close and personal with these blooms.  To be a bee, sitting on a bloom that is bigger than your head.  Overwhelmed by smell, colour and texture.

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A 2m image of a bee’s tongue.  A film about a Muslim beekeeper in the North African mountains whose beekeeping was an expression of service to Allah.  A Belgian urban bee laboratory from a rooftop in Brussels, run by a group of co-operative of scientists and artists.

Wild leadership abounds.  The leadership lessons of bee colonies.  Co-operation and collective intelligence.  The cultural leadership of this art foundation – it could’ve got in another modern artist rather than looking at the nature that so inspired Joan Miro.  The creativity of ‘artists’ and the exhibition curator to give visitors this sensory story – an innovative route into understanding.

The art foundation, the curator, the ‘artists’, me – none of us were doing what we were ‘supposed’ to be doing.  We were touching some deeper experience of who we are and what we were there to do.  To know the bee.

Leaving Barcelona, I was replete, having gorged on the wild.  Unexpectedly, in this busy European city, wild leadership had shown itself in spades.

How do you tell stories to those who choose to follow you?  How do you inspire?  How do you create legacy?

Do you dare to move beyond what is expected of you?  Do you get the support you need to dare more greatly?