Have you ever wanted to make a fresh start?

Just putting one foot in front of the other and trusting the path will unfold

Just putting one foot in front of the other and trusting the path will unfold

I’ve done it a few times now, either because a relationship has ended or some work or life shift (that’s shift with an F by the way!) has caused me to move to a new region.  It can be as stressful and draining as it can be exciting and energising!

More than two years ago I finally decided to move on but I was not sure where exactly.  I just knew that living on a Yorkshire hilltop and interchanging that with a house in central London really did not work for me. If you have read any of my previous blogs or postings you’ll know that I have traveled overseas for about half of each year for the last decade … and coming home to two different homes no longer made sense. Travel, discovery and re-invention had become part of my identity and I had outgrown both homes. I had a clear sense that if I wanted to change my life, which I did, then I had to change the container that was holding that life. I was finding it difficult to shift the contents in the same container … after such a long time of being shaped by those places.

Although the London house was a fantastic connection hub (so many Women’s Gatherings, community suppers and ground-breaking events hosted there over the decades), it now felt  too small and closed-in for full-time living and the Healthy Home in Yorkshire was too remote, lonely, large and too distant from my friends. But what/where to move to?  Perhaps you too have felt a need to move forward and not been sure where you needed to go but you knew that where you were, as lovely as it might have been, no longer served ?

Looking back on my own change process, (this wasn’t the first time I had re-invented myself and I doubt it will be the last) I reflected on how I managed to get through it all. These insights came to light. Bearing in mind, so many people seem be managing vast amounts of change I thought I’d collate these thoughts here. I know a younger version of me would have really appreciated knowing these:

A declaration was made
I made a declaration of intent.  “I want a new life and I want to be a new me”. On previous occasions I might have known what was ahead and could articulate what I wanted and set out towards making it happen but this time I didn’t know. I was very open to new possibilities and I kept affirming that I wanted to bring in a new iteration of me … the next updated version. Gina 2.0 (or even Gina 4.0 !)  Details were less important than the fact that I was absolutely committed to moving forward and creating a new future. I believed it would happen somehow even though I was not architecting and controlling every stage. And the forward movement really centred around selling my house in London which I had lived in for almost a quarter century. Now that I was very much NOT in control of!

Being able to let go
This was a big one. I really thought I had let go of my London home. I did sell it in 2014 in fact but after three months of faffing about my buyer dropped out. I was back to being in limbo again but I trusted that it would sell eventually. I would do all I could but I knew I was not in charge of the timing. After some feng shui rituals got the energy moving again, a friend recommended I change the selling price to one which added up to nine, making an unusual sales price. I did that and waited for buyers to return from summer vacation. During a September trip to Oslo I took part in a Team exercise that involved me flying down the Zip-Line above the Olympic ski jump several hundred feet above the ground. Having volunteered to do this, I was absolutely terrified once I saw what it looked like.

I called on everything that I had ever learned about controlling my fear (thank you Tony Robbins) which at least got me to the edge. Somehow, muttering some kind of prayer or mantra, I stepped off the edge and within seconds I was whooping for joy at the exhilaration of flying. I had linked my moving forward in life to this Zip Line challenge so I knew I had to go down it and when I did and found it to be so freeing and exciting, I felt everything shift. What had seemed utterly terrifying, letting go and stepping off that edge, was in fact painless and even joyful. Such a tiny step. When I landed at the bottom of the ski jump, my estate agent was taking a call from a buyer for my house with a renewed offer. My courage had scored a home run. You can watch the video here of me flying through the air. And by the way … the house buyer’s offer added up to the number nine, as did the estate agent’s fee, and the difference between the asking and selling price !

Meeting the Universe halfway
Rather than having everything mapped out, I wanted to see what would unfold but I knew I had to have an element of knowing what I wanted. I could not decide the best place to live or what living arrangement I wanted but I settled on articulating what was most important. A place with a view of countryside, plenty of light in the house as I did not want to feel shut in, and a bright conservatory where I would work on my book. I was very clear about those three things. So I had done my work and now I held an expectation that the universe would do the rest.  And it did.

I had a property listing website send me alerts and one evening shortly after, I got a message with a picture of a house with a long garden, lovely trees and a huge conservatory. I visited it the next day and saw that it was full of light, exactly what I needed. The first (and only) property I saw, I was the first to visit it and immediately signed a contract. So now I am living in the centre of Skipton and after all that not-knowing it’s exactly where I need to be. Think the thought, let it go … set the forward trajectory in motion. Just hold the expectation for what you want and you will manifest it. So often our anxiety and trying gets in the way of us allowing things to come to us.

Monitoring my inner dialogue
I took care with the language I used about myself especially if I got frustrated with the time it was taking for things to happen. I really had to remind myself that humans are not in charge of  timing … things can happen in an instant and they can take a long time to unfold but in the end, the moment is always perfectly right. And when feelings of overwhelm crept in I just re-connected with the progress that I had made, and in fact friends reminded me too … “look at what you have achieved, how far you have come” they said. Don’t focus on where there is still to go. Trust it will happen. So I learned to be kind to myself and repeat encouraging phrases to myself to keep me going.

Seeking Guidance & Re-assurance
As much as I tuned in and intuited the way forward that felt right for me, there’s nothing like having some external confirmation. I sought the counsel of a good astrologer for a reading so that I could affirm that I was on the right track.  It didn’t really change where I was going but I found when and where the movement of the planets were aligned in my favour. Of course, you don’t need to speak to an astrologer, or psychic, if that is not your thing, but you can still seek wise counsel from a trusted friend. At times of flux it is a good idea to ask around for advice .. keep listening to the input you receive.  In fact the answers you seek might even come to you in the framing of the question rather than the answer itself. Spending time crafting the right question can often provide the insights you are looking for.

The truth always resides within and is accessed through silence
Times of great change call for many periods of quiet reflection and a daily meditation practice is good. I found silence a good companion for me to be present to my own thoughts and feelings. Off went the radio and the TV … and I just immersed myself in quiet and stillness. Living in the enquiry and feeling comfortable with the unknown means you have to have significant periods of time with no chatter or interruption … that way you can see the signs, hear the whispers, and sense the right way forward for you. The more you can reduce the noise inside, the more comfortable you can become with the crazy outside world and the uncertainties which have become the norm. And when others around you express their worry for you, you will be centred enough to discern whether their anxiety is a genuine warning for you or a projection of their own fears which you can choose not to take on.

Destination unknown but still moving forward
You don’t need to know where you are going in order to move forward, and that seems to be contrary to so much current teaching about goal-setting. I genuinely did not know which way forward but I did know various elements that I wanted to be included in my new future. I was clear that I want to be a voice for the greater role that women and feminine wisdom needs to play in the world. I am not attached to how that happens. I think the old me would have it all worked out and vision-mapped but somehow I feel there is a greater more wonderful plan than anything I can imagine myself. I am trusting that by offering myself to be of service using my talents and gifts, the place I need to be will be revealed. My job is to be ready .. whatever that takes … that’s your job too.

The ability to re-frame and set a new context
I have just celebrated a milestone birthday and it was a biggie. It has taken some time to adjust to acknowledging my advancing years and my state of flux to find the positive in it all.  I can hear, and witness around me, an old cultural programming that defines a person’s third age as retirement. Magazine photos of older people with white hair enjoying sunset cocktails on cruise ships were not going to be for me. If 60 is the new 40, I made a conscious decision to re-frame my milestone as a second 21st birthday and created a rite of passage for me to begin anew. I remembered that feeling of being 21 and sensing a whole life ahead of me. That is what I am setting up for myself now. As much as I have been-there-done-that I have a sense that I am only just getting started!  Watching the Queen still active and working at 90, indeed seeing my spiritual mentor Dadi Janki still working at age 100 means I have got many years ahead, but this time very much informed by wisdom and experience.

Even a name change .. a new identity
After I moved in to the new “container” and created a new home from scratch, I got more of a sense of becoming a new person because my daily rituals were different. My new outer landscape was helping to re-shape the inner terrain of my identity. Yet I still seemed the same when I looked in the mirror … it all felt very subtle indeed. I asked myself if  I was different? When I looked back on this time would I recognise this as the moment when everything shifted? Then I visited the Island of Kauai in Hawaii during a major eclipse (in the Pacific). I read about a woman who created an alter ego, like having an avatar in a video game, to help her recover from concussion and it got me thinking … about a name change. I remembered I already had two other names … I took the name of Gina at age 23 from my birth name of Georgina. Why not reclaim that name? And my pet name from my family was Georgie … suddenly I liked that softer name of Georgie so I have taken that back. I still have a professional name of Gina Lazenby because my public profile as an author is linked to that but it does not stop me from introducing myself as Georgie .. and I checked the numerology and it’s very good!

So all these things helped me to create a new story about myself which is evolving and unfolding. Slowly I am moving forward and trusting that all is as it should be…. if I just keep putting one foot in front of the other… that is all I need to know. Everything is OK now … so everything in the future will be OK too. That’s what I keep repeating to myself. Everything is OK.

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Posted by: ginalazenby | October 3, 2015

Fear of heights …. and overcoming the fear of letting go!

Posted by: ginalazenby | September 30, 2015

Aged 100 and still working !

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This week the United Nations is celebrating its 25th International Day of Older Persons on Thursday October 1st. That’s really anyone over 60 which is quite a large group of people. At other end of the age spectrum are the centenarians and it might surprise you to know that at least one of that community of elders is still working.

Sadly, old age is no longer revered and celebrated, at least not in modern industrial societies.  The conversations about ageing are generally negative. There’s a tendency to focus on the very real problems of the additional needs that the growing numbers of seniors will have as they become a much higher proportion of society. By 2050, people over 60 will account for one quarter of urban populations. Additional healthcare, different housing, extra social care, loneliness, access and transportation …. there are so many issues, that growing older is now primarily presented as being a burden, particularly on the remaining working adults.

So it is wonderful to find role models for a different kind of ageing. Dadi Janki has a very inspiring view about how she lives her later years.

Dadi (which means elder sister in Hindi) turns 100 in January 2016.  Still working full time, she thinks very much in terms of what she can continue to give to society.  Dadi began her new job at the age of 92, becoming the Spiritual Head of an international spiritual education organisation, a job which takes her around the world.

This year alone she has so far clocked up 49,418 business air miles. In a world of challenges and great change, the wisdom that Dadi aged 100 can offer seems to be much in demand. Her daily routine starts at 4.00 am with a schedule packed full of meetings with both students of the organisation (Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University) as well as leaders from business, government and all walks of life.

For this year’s International Day of Older Persons the UN’s emphasis is on age inclusiveness in the urban environment.  Dadi Janki however, as anyone who knows her has come to expect, doesn’t restrict herself to just one urban setting. In the last few months alone she has spent time in London (her home for most of the past 40 years) New York, Kuwait, Morocco, Malaysia, Singapore and numerous cities throughout her native India.

All this is just amazing!  So how does she keep so youthful and active with a schedule that many people half her age would find somewhat daunting… me included! …. ?

Top 10 Secrets for staying young at 100 years of age:

1.  Sense of Purpose.  Dadi has a very clear vision for the future of humanity, which she feels she is working towards and will continue to do so.  Retirement is not a word in her vocabulary.  When you have passion for what you are doing, why would you want to stop?  This passion and sense of purpose gives her energy, drive and commitment.

2. Inner Connection.  Dadi feels a strong connection to her own inner being and to a greater power beyond herself.  This gives her a rich inner life and is the source of her own energy.

3. Spiritual Discipline.  Dadi’s life has been committed to following a spiritual path which nourishes and sustains her.  This gives her life structure and discipline and keeps her focused.  She always experiences a state of deep inner peace with a quiet and stable mind.  This power of silence means she can stay calm, no matter what is going on around her.

4.  Control Over Thoughts.  Dadi has a well-developed control over her mind (through the daily practice of meditation).  This allows her to focus only on positive thoughts which bring benefit to herself and others.  Despite her many bouts of ill health, she chooses not to pay attention to any aches and pains.  “Thinking about my pain only adds to it” is her answer to doctors’ questions about what she is feeling.

5. Selfless Service.  Thinking of others is a secret key to a happy life.  Dadi’s life has been one of altruistic service, thinking of the needs of others in balance with her own needs.  This keeps the energy flowing out to others so it can flow back in return.  She is therefore continually supported by the good wishes of those she has first supported herself.

6.  Living with Others.  Throughout her life, Dadi has lived in community with others. There are always people around her, of different backgrounds and walks of life and importantly across the different generations.  This keeps her in touch with what is going on and with the energy of youth.

7.  Early Rising.  Dadi has always woken early each day (4.00 am).  Morning meditation gives her time with herself and her connection with the Divine.  She always keeps this time as her own special time.  This gives her the power and energy to get through the day without experiencing any stress, even though she has a very demanding workload.

8.  Simple Life.  In contrast to the aims of many people today to accumulate and acquire, Dadi has very few possessions. She is therefore able to travel light and keep her world clutter-free, clean and simple. This keeps her from feeling heavy and burdened.

9. Healthy Living.  Dadi’s food has always been vegetarian. In addition, she places great value on the nourishment of food that has been cooked with love and good wishes.

10.  Laughter is part of life.  Despite her heavy work schedule, Dadi always finds time to laugh.  Her teachings are deep and thoughtful yet she is able to bring a lightness through her humour.

Posted by: ginalazenby | May 7, 2015

Who to vote for today?

Apparently I am one of the 25% of folks who are still undecided. I’m not sure and I’m not being influenced by the last-minute media coverage this week as I am away at a silent meditation retreat. On the one hand I live in Westminster so unless I support the long-standing Conservatives my vote won’t change anything, but on the other hand, every little vote counts for a national total so I’m leaving the retreat early to do my duty.

If there was a Peace party, Equality, Fairness … or Women’s Party, which I hear might actually come about if Sandy Toksvig gets her way, then I would have some clear idea where my loyalties lay. But the swing from Left to Right, Red to Blue and vice versa is so unappealing. Somehow that polarisation no longer reflects the structure of society today.

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Red or Blue .. or 50 shades in between?
I attended a live debate in Manchester a couple of weeks ago chaired by the Political Editor of the Independent newspaper. Afterwards, I went backstage to speak with him and overheard his conversation with another man bemoaning the fact that neither of the two big parties looked set to win a clear majority (again) but he was confident that things would return to ‘normal’ at the next election. I could not resist interjecting and humbly begged to differ. The origins of the Tory party came from those who owned the land, the estates, the factories, the businesses … while Labour largely emerged from the Union movement in the early 1900s and gave voice to those who worked for said owners.  Today, there is not that clear lack of division. Most people work and many people have some level of ‘ownership’ so that is no longer a valid way of dividing us. We will never gain be that polarised.

It was interesting to see in the first live TV Election debate that there were seven leaders and not three as there were four years ago. So many more voices, so many points of view, and each with something to offer. Why can’t we have some system where everybody gets heard?

Women’s voices brought a different tone
It was wonderful to see three women in that leadership line up and in the following debate that took  place without the current coalition leaders, the women were actually in the majority: three women, two men. Their language was different and each spoke passionately about correcting imbalances in society and providing better care. Not being the ones in power it was easy for them to talk about collaboration but they consistently spoke of the need and their desire to work together. And I believe having more women in the debate keeps the atmosphere much more polite, there is less abuse and fewer insults being thrown. On the Andrew Marr Show last weekend the host had to tell his two male sparring politicians, Ed Miliband and Boris Johnson to shut up as they were being so insulting to each other. That is somewhat different to the photograph captured when the TV debate ended of the three female leaders having a group hug.  Amazing!

Something needs to change and not getting a clear majority … again .. is going to force new conversations to be had about how the different factions representing all facets of society can be represented. I feel sure that the Lib Dems had a restraining effect on some of the Conservatives’ more harsh policies but nobody has been talking about that. Goodness knows why the LibDems did not give voice to what they have been doing for the last five years … that was a lost opportunity!

So who to vote for today?
I shall spend the next hour in meditation … then ask for some sign to guide me when I stand in the voting booth in Marylebone tonight.

Has it been an easier choice for any of you?

Posted by: ginalazenby | April 21, 2015

Liz Gee’s life-enhancing lecture programme

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Yesterday I met the energetic and visionary Liz Gee at the The Westbury to talk about my presenting in her London lecture series. I am going to be talking about my new book The Rise of the Feminine later in the year. For the last two years she has been hosting a fascinating and eclectic range of lectures in her Holland Park home.

Liz is a real have-a-go/ try-it-out Ambassador recognising that any natural reticence she might have had in her 30s has really evaporated over the decades so she keeps herself young by seeking out new challenges and learning. “Age is simply a state of mind: she says.  She’s on emission to keep people feeling younger by opening and feeding their minds!

Even though we may start to care less about what others think about us as the years go by, many of us can still harbour a fear of the unknown which can get in the way of learning and taking on new interests, or even filling in gaps in our own education. Liz is particularly keen for people to get a better financial education as she’s noticed even smart, professional executives looking after big budget programs can still not necessarily be smart and well-informed when it comes to their own personal finances.

So Liz has really taken on and committed to providing an educational lecture series that gives people the confidence to take on something new by sharing experts from her vast contacts book in the fields of Finance, the Arts, Leadership and Health and well-being. She has managed to coax many of the top names in finance and other fields to provide fascinating presentations. Speakers come from Sothebys, St James Place, Christies and many art critics & high profile authors who cover subjects like political reform, learning from international disasters, insolvency, emotional intelligence …. and rags to riches biographical stories shared from prominent business leaders like Jeremy Hackett on today April 21.

I heard Jonathan Gaby speak last autumn on his Brand Psychology book and he was fascinating. And such a diverse range of people attend … different ages and walks of life. We all share a curiosity to find out more.
I recommend to attend one of Liz’s events … get on her invite list.

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Women’s Gathering in San Francisco March 2015

Just before the International Women’s Day weekend, a group of professional women gathered in a private apartment in San Francisco. Together we created a wonderful ‘pot luck’ buffet supper. After the delicious food, the real nourishment started when we sat in a circle to share where we are in life …. each answering the question of what was alive in us right now. Such a sacred space to be …and so much wisdom shared. I share just a tiny bit here…..

What was a very much in evidence were the personal stories of women, of all ages, managing their own version of the BIG TRANSITION that the world is going through right now. Particularly post year 2000.
From an old way of doing business to a new way
From an old order to new order
From an old economy to a new economy
It’s not pretty and it’s not painless out there in the world, and each woman is finding her own way of being part of this shift, and in many cases LEADING it.

Once we women gather together and share our personal narratives, it’s becoming clear that our own individual journeys align with a much bigger global narrative for our times. We are not alone, we are ALL going through a shift, both personally and professionally.

Here are some examples of what the transition is looking like and the themes are emerging:

1 A mis-alignment of values
Many women have been on significant personal growth journeys of spiritual awareness, some for about five years but many for much longer than that. There comes a point where personal awareness is heightened and the woman is much more present to her own values and the need for her to start prioritising these and to live by them. This is often where inner peace meets outer problem …. and the woman’s energy and beingness simply becomes too much for the role she is in in an organisation. Or, alternatively, she takes a stand for herself and decides that she can no longer compromise her values within a work culture where there are often few positive values for her to align to. She is simply no longer willing to “fit in”.

At this point, many women leave their jobs or are in the transition space of preparing to leave, disconnecting from the loyalty she once had, and actively looking for new possibilities. These women have evolved to become extremely accomplished, professionally and personally, with high emotional intelligence and skills, and are an absolutely essential asset to the organisation they work in. These organisations are desperate to change (of course they don’t always recognise this) and this woman is superbly placed to play a key role in assisting the organisation to move from the OLD to the NEW. She has developed everything needed to thrive and be effective in the BIG TRANSITION.
But the organisation cannot see it.

Often senior people feel threatened. I can quite understand that, it’s an entirely human response to the colossal change so many are facing. Her departure really is a huge loss to the organisation and this values mis-alignment is probably a key reason why there is such a vacuum of women at the top of organisations. By the time they could slip into more senior or executive roles, many women are burned out, disillusioned or determined to seek an expansion of identity in a different place, where they hope they can start to thrive.

2 A NEW way of working is being embraced
Even women who have long been running their own enterprises (and are therefore not subject to the soul crushing experienced in some corporate cultures) ….. these women are relatively adept at transition, having made the leap from corporate employment years ago. Now they are witnessing a very personal change in no longer being able to accomplish and achieve in the OLD way, which is variously described as “EFFORTING” … PUSHING” … and being accustomed to hard work. Now, after periods of time where confusion and energy loss rendered them almost immobile and inactive, they are finding that the NEW ways of working that they are being guided to embrace totally, are more enjoyable and more productive. As one woman put it, from being called “Chief Make-It -Happen Officer” this NEW way is a complete about-face.

These NEW ways involve what many women are describing as a “feminine way” …. the vocabulary of this way of approaching business includes:

  • Allowing
  • Able to pause, rest and step back from issues
  • Being more present
  • Bringing Grace to situations
  • Valuing ‘being’ over ‘doing’
  • Having more fun
  • Expecting to experience joy
  • Seeking out more opportunities to collaborate and not working alone
  • Creating strong communities of support
  • Being much more open about their spiritual life in business
  • Completely honest

It’s all about giving up on the pushing and the stress of forcing events to happen in order to achieve big goals, and in doing so, it in no way means the game has got any smaller. Visions are not sacrificed, only effort. Women in this space, often older over 40 and 50, are not winding down and heading for early retirement. None of them want to play small, they say they are just getting started. They are feeling a stronger sense of purpose that is informing their professional and personal choices.

3 Life just gets better with age
When we gather in a women’s circle, the ages are commonly over 40 and often with a higher proportion of us in our 50s or 60s, so it’s really exciting to welcome so many more younger women in their 30s and even 20s. The age when women are waking up to the possibility of doing things differently, and hearing the call to step out of “the norm” and become an active part of the BIG TRANSITION is lowering. It feels like three generations of us are heading in the same direction!

Years ago, if I had been active in a women’s circle I think I would have been hearing how women over aged 60 were enjoying their retirements and I would simply expect them to share what they had learned in their lifetime of work.  Decades later, I’m totally thrilled and inspired by these older women making fresh starts and relaunching themselves out into the world through new enterprises in their 70s. It seems there is a generation of early rock and rollers who continue to feel the beat of life and are dancing their way, with energy, verve and grace, into an eighth decade of a purpose-filled life. It’s amazing and I am in awe of these fabulous women. They are such beautiful role models for all of us to follow.

It would be inappropriate to say that ALL women are leaving corporate life or shifting jobs. It’s either not possible or not what they want to do. Many women on the path of transition are doing the best they can .. where they are .. and consciously bringing a different energy to situations, even where nobody else notices. It’s a way of healing difficult situations that show up using the skills they have learned, in their own extra curricula of life study, and which are not necessarily noticed by others. They have a sense that they are making a difference even if it is not obvious to all around them .. and often that is enough.

 

Posted by: ginalazenby | February 26, 2015

Who won the Oscar for Best Acceptance Speech ?

…. there’s hardly any talk about best actor/ best film …. all the post-Oscars buzz is about the acceptance speech of Patricia Arquette who picked up the award for Best Supporting Actress. Hers was the most inspired and talked-about acceptance speech.

Her speech about equal pay had a huge impact and you could see that from the way the whole audience rose to its feet as one, led by female champions J-Lo and Meryl Streep who clearly shouted “Yes! Yes! Yes!” on the front rows. I was just as excited as I watched the Academy Awards ceremony live in California at the weekend.

I thought it was beautifully phrased …. After her long list of thanks read from her aide-memoire, she said:  “To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen in this nation: We have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality in the U.S.”

That’s a beautiful reminder of the significant role women play in society .. we birth the nation, we champion other people’s rights and causes .. now it is time for us to be recognised as full economic citizens and be paid equally. And parity across the races needs to be addressed too.

  • While white women earn, on average:
    78 cents for every $ dollar earned by white men,
    64 cents is earned by black women and
    54 cents is earned by Hispanic or Latina women.

As usual, women who stand up and speak their minds attract a lot of flack but generally, the response to Patricia’s speech has been the main news story here in California from the Oscars.

 

Posted by: ginalazenby | November 7, 2014

NEW BOOK: A map to a new management emerges

Feminine Leadership Today

P1010766with Prof Vlatka Hlupic when she spoke at the House of Commons on Guy Fawkes night … auspiciously Nov 5th … releasing her intellectual fireworks blowing up people’s minds with her ideas for Emergent Leadership

Prof Vlatka Hlupic chose the infamous Guy Fawkes night of November 5th to appear at the UK’s House of Commons discussing her latest book on new management and leadership. Intellectual fireworks were the result as she shared the fruits of her 15 years of inter-disciplinary research and her passion for creating a new world of work.  Her goal with this latest book The Management Shift is to prove that making workplaces into happier and more purposeful environments not only nourishes the people who work there but also the profits.

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 11.23.38 pmWhat is clear is that Business As Usual is no longer an option … the global workforce is unhappy with consistent research highlighting that 70% of…

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Posted by: ginalazenby | November 7, 2014

Rebecca Solnit: Feminism — The Men Arrive!

A really interesting read about how the Feminist movement is evolving and the high profile male figures speaking out about injustices to women …. excellent

Vox Populi

(Hooray! Uh-Oh!)

What do the prime minister of India, retired National Football League punter Chris Kluwe, and superstar comedian Aziz Ansari have in common? It’s not that they’ve all walked into a bar, though Ansari could probably figure out the punch line to that joke. They’ve all spoken up for feminism this year, part of an unprecedented wave of men actively engaging with what’s usually called “women’s issues,” though violence and discrimination against women are only women’s issues because they’re things done to women — mostly by men, so maybe they should always have been “men’s issues.”

The arrival of the guys signifies a sea change, part of an extraordinary year for feminism, in which the conversation has been transformed, as have some crucial laws, while new voices and constituencies joined in. There have always been men who agreed on the importance of those women’s issues, and some who spoke…

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Posted by: ginalazenby | October 13, 2014

The Day of the Girl & Malala speaking on the Power of One

It was brilliant timing that the world’s most famous girl should be on the front covers of most newspapers this weekend as Saturday October 11th is now known as the International Day of the Girl Child. What better poster girl could you have to draw attention to the plight of girls than Malala Yousafzai?  This is the second year that the UN have highlighted the need to care for the safety of girls, something that has long been campaigned for by the international charity Plan.

PLan sponsored child Oumou

My sponsored little girl Oumou

Plan is one of the oldest charities focusing on child development and one of my favourites to work with. I sponsor a girl child with them (my fourth, two graduated at age 18 from the program and one sadly died of malaria). Little Oumou is 6 years old, lives in Mali and it is hoped that my funding and Plan’s great work will keep her safe, well and educated to give her choices when she gets older. Malala saw that without an education, her own life would be, as she put it, limited to being imprisoned in a room, cooking and caring for children.

There is nobody more vulnerable than a girl
Malala is using the global platform that she has earned to highlight the fact that 62 million girls around the world miss out on an education. A excellent short movie called “The Girl Effect” clearly demonstrates the dangers faced by 12 year old girls who live in poverty and are not in school. They could find themselves married off by age 14, pregnant by 15 and at 16 in danger of having to sell their bodies to feed their families, risking HIV infection. If that 12 year old girl is in school she is more likely to be healthy, less likely to be married off and has a chance of making her own choices in life, getting married when she wants to and having children when she chooses, and enabling her next generation to follow in her footsteps.

Do watch the Girl Effect movie… it’s really powerful.

The Power of One
As Malala herself said at the United Nations… “One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world”.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 6.43.41 amThe plight of girls and the power of one girl is very much at the heart of a  documentary movie called Girl Rising. It’s is a MUST WATCH if you have not seen it. I first saw it in Sydney last year …. it shares the stories of nine girls in different continents across the world. I wept when I saw 8 year old Wadley recreate her story in Haiti.

 

The tears stayed with me through the whole film as I watched how these beautiful little girls had stepped forward with courage or grasped the opportunity presented by a champion who showed up in their lives.

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Wadley is so disappointed not to be allowed back into school (image from the Girl Rising movie)

Everything changed in little Wadley’s happy life when she came home from school on the afternoon of January 12th, 2010 … a devastating earthquake ended the life she knew. She and her mother survived but in the aftermath Wadley’s days were spent fetching water … no more school for her. When she discovered her classroom had been reformed in a tent she excitedly grabbed her school books and joined her friends sitting on the end of a bench.

 

When the teacher spotted her and asked her for payment … even with her little understanding of money she knew her mother no longer had any … she was forced to get up and leave. I can’t write those words without feeling her disappointment. It’s painful to witness something like this. And bless little Wadley for recreating her own story for the film.
Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 6.48.56 amWadley so loved school and wanted her education that the next day she went back and simply refused to leave that bench. She defiantly stood her ground. The teacher let her stay. The film goes on to share the story of Suma who was sold by her family at age six into child slavery in Nepal. Bonded to a master from age 6 she became a Kamlari … domestic slave until her rescue six years later.

Do watch the movie (online) and witness these stories  … although they are heartbreaking, your spirits will soar with hope when you see what these girls are doing. One girl at a time, one teacher at a time, one social social worker, one champion, one donor….. what one action can we each do that could create change?

This is why we need to take action:

  • in one year 115 million girls are victims of sexual violence
  • 80% of human trafficking is of girls
  • every year 15 million girls face child marriage
  • 1 in 3 girls in the developing world are married by their 18th birthday
  • a child whose mother can read is 50% more likely to survive beyond the age of five
  • 700 million women today were child brides

An editor at the Pakistan Observer is quoted in the Sunday Times as telling the BBC that Malala had not really been shot and described her “as a normal useless kind of girl”. Girls are a vital part of the future of the world … we cannot see them as useless.

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