Building from the heart up …

Remember one of your healthiest and most helpful moments of relationship where you felt most comfortable, most welcome, most supported, and most generous within yourself. It may have been with other people. It may have been in the company of a favourite animal, or even in the company of a favourite object. You may even have been on your own. Try to feel again how it felt to be in that moment. If we were to build our lives, our relationships, our organisations, institutions, communities, and our cultural and political systems on an understanding of such possible moments, what would they look like? How would we get there from here?

9 Leadership Steps For Corporate Culture Change (Forbes) “Want to use your leadership to drive cultural change at your company? Here’s what it takes: a 9-point checklist of what we’ve found, as culture change consultants, to be required for a company culture to achieve organizational and customer experience excellence. …” (More)  

Hummingbird back on the wing after hiatus

After a number of months of quiet on account of family duties, the Hummingbird Workshop is back up and running with a new suite of workshops. The first workshop to be confirmed is The Courage To Be Gentle, to be held in Warrenpoint on the 26th August in St. Peter’s Parish Centre. More details on the PDF file linked below: The Courage to be Gentle – WarrenpointFLYER 2014 (PDF) This will be followed shortly by the following workshops: The Courage To Be Gentle At Work: the (he)art of being human in working life The Courage To Be Gentle At Home: the (he)art of being a parent The Courage To Be Present: finding the (he)art of performance The Courage To Lead: exploring the (he)art of culture change  

The Politics of Gentleness – a conversation

Last Wednesday night I passed a very enjoyable evening in the company of a small group of people in the Culturen building in Västerså, Sweden. I was there at the invitation of Dougald Hine, a dynamic thinker and dreams-to-reality engineer who recently moved from London to live in Sweden. Dougald has found himself curating a series of public conversations/interviews simply by the happenstance of having invited a number of friends to visit him, and having those visits coalesce within the same period of time. Taking it as an opportunity, Dougald has taken on the role of curation with some vigour. My conversation with Dougald and those in attendance was about the politics of gentleness and ordinary ethics, the core of the work of the Hummingbird Workshop. Dougald has very kindly posted the audio of the evening on Soundcloud, which you can access via Dougald’s blog at AM  

Self-compassion increases compassion for others

“Emma Seppälä, Ph.D. is a Science Journalist & Author ( and the Associate Director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University ( Emma Seppälä’s areas of expertise are health psychology, well-being, and resilience. She conducts research, writes and speaks about the science of happiness, social connection, and compassion. Her research investigating the effects of yoga- and meditation-based interventions for combat veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with trauma was featured in the documentary Free the Mind. “Emma’s research has been cited in numerous television and news outlets including ABC News and The New York Times as well as books such as Congressman Tim Ryan’s Mindful Nation. Emma often gives talks on the psychology of health and well-being to academic, corporate, and governmental institutions including places such as Google, the National Science Foundation, and a US Congressional Hearing.” 

Presence and the Relational Field

“Presence” is a term that is gaining caché in coaching, leadership, and culture change, and one which I find useful to explore as a gateway to my reflections on gentleness. Interestingly, as a positive term it seems to be finding more fertile ground in reflective professional practice (for example, in coaching, the performing arts, management, and healthcare) than in the more abstracted realms of philosophical academic thought. Perhaps this is not surprising, given the emphasis in professional practice on literally ‘being present’ in the company of another or others. Professional practice, practised ethically, invites a pragmatist immediacy of grounding and response on account of the quality of work-calling-to-be-done in and through relationship. Writing on presence and presencing seems to fall into two main camps, which might be characterised as optimistic and pessimistic respectively. In the optimistic camp, writers present presence as an available quality of existence and relationship in the here-and-now. For such writers, presence is both possible and desirable. It tends to be experienced in gradations; more presence, it is assumed, is better. Presence can also be cultivated; it is something we can train ourselves to do better. This is exemplified, for example, by the writings of Silsbee, Topp,