I was delighted to be featured in the World Leading Schools Association inaugural newsletter REACH with an article about Unconscious Bias in Education Settings, as part of tackling SDG 5 - Gender Equality.
I spoke at the WLSA Conference in Prague in July 2019 on creating healthy campus's using creativity and problem-solving around the UN SDGs.
My article is on page 20. Click on the PDF Link.
In the UK, the Durham Commission on Creativity & Education was published in mid-October, citing:
"The increasing recognition of the economic and social value of creativity and creative thinking has brought a fresh urgency to the development of entrepreneurship and the skills of the future workforce."
This is extraordinarily well-timed as Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019 takes place 18th – 24th November.
Why celebrate GEW in your school? Because it is a fantastic way to build youth wellbeing, complex problem-solving skills and solutions to challenges in your community.
How does it help? Children and youth can celebrate by using their unique creativity* to play with ideas for solutions on taking action for people and planet.
What can they do? Use a Flow In Action Innovation Challenge Toolkit as an easy-to-use, one-stop solution that you can use immediately.
Flow In Action Innovation Challenges are interactive challenge-based activities, using people and planet-centred design thinking* as an approach to:
1. Sustainable School Innovation Challenge Toolkit: You can get this straight away, complete with online access to the full toolkit on the Flow In Action Hazu platform and the space to upload 30 ideas to create a visual impact library. You can use the innovation challenge as a rapid download activity or follow the lessons in full. Either way, you're planting seeds.
2. Tailored Innovation Challenges + Toolkit: We'll talk and I will design with you an innovation challenge specific to your community's needs, to use with the online challenge Toolkit.
3. Youth Entrepreneurship Workshops: Get in touch to talk about me running one or more face-to-face entrepreneurship workshops on-site at your school.
* The Coursera Global Skills Index 2019 identifies design thinking at the number 1 skill required across 7/10 industries.
As part of our preparations, wherever you are in the world, use this wonder activity with your young people to connect them more deeply to their creativity as the new generation of innovators and entrepreneurs taking action for people and planet.
I'd love to hear from you to talk about how we can work together to empower children and youth. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a time to explore further.
When was the last time you remember feeling wonder?
Can you remember?
Can you picture what you were looking at or thinking about?
I’m asking, because wonder is a powerhouse, creating a chain reaction to real and radical impact in what you do.
Here’s the basic equation of what I do in my work with you:
Reconnect you to your unique blend of creativity,
Using seemingly innocuous wellbeing tools, (like wonder)
To open-wide the doors to your capacity to innovate,
So that you can show up to make change happen in your spaces.
What I’m doing with you, to you, for you is people and planet-centred design thinking …for people and planet-centred innovation and entrepreneurship. Cool, eh?
It starts in that space before ideas and ends up where you’re risktakers, changemakers, rulebreakers.
You’re unprecedented, so truly, it is important that you’re using these wellbeing tools to flourish, so that you can imagine, design and create solutions for the flourishing of others and the planet.
I’ve been littering my articles with talk about love for some time now.
I see that some of you are also beginning to say the L-word too, which is excellent. Perhaps we can join forces and work together?
I’ve even gone global about the L-word in my September ‘learn to move mountains’ column of Sovereign Magazine – it really feels like a go-big or go-home moment – given the magazine is distributed to outlets in hardcopy and digital all around the world.
Why? Why do I keep talking about love? Why do I keep talking about it in relation to sustainability and sustainable development?
Because it is the starting point of true innovation and action.
My way of calling it is the Tao of Innovation. The ‘how’ of things, ‘how’ things happen, unfurl, unfold.
Love, with all of its spectrum, “is the white light of emotion” and each of us is a prism. It is the micro-moments of connection with yourself and with others.
It is the ground zero of your imagination and creativity.
When you look through this lens, you gather your courage to explore and create your best solution. You can’t look away from the impact further down the line on people or planet. You are forced to keep coming back to designing solutions around flourishing.
In Love Letter to the Earth, Thich Naht Hanh writes:
“We are a living, breathing manifestation of this beautiful and generous planet. Knowing this, we can begin to transform our relationship to the Earth…We will fall completely in love with the Earth.”
In my September Sovereign column, I give you a task to do, set by young people that I’ve talked to. I don’t want to duplicate that so you need to read the article. I’m giving you another one to do, again set by the same young people.
Dust off your organisation’s values. Whether you’re a solopreneur or a micro-business or a global brand. Is ‘love’ one of them? I’m guessing no.
What if it was? What if you and your organisation had to live ‘love for the planet’ as a value?
What has to change? Might you have to relinquish a growth business model for a model of flourishing? How would your business processes change? How would people show-up and do their job? How would you show-up and do yours?
Imagine it. Imagine how things would be different. Imagine how incredible real, disruptive innovation might be. It is so much more exciting than lazy duplication that promotes a status quo for a few.
You are the thought-leaders, impact investors, platform builders. Maybe it’s time to break your own rules? After all, every journey starts with maybe.
You will need help. We go far together, so I have rather excellent workshops and coaching we can roll out to get everyone looking through this lens, connecting values and businesses processes, bringing new perspectives to increase innovation and impact.
I’ve often been urged to deliver messages more softly, to ‘pick pockets’ rather than punch. Meh!
I’m working on it but the opposite of love is fear, avoidance, scarcity; and we’re seeing tidal waves of that everywhere. I don’t much like tidal waves at the best of times, so I feel there is a need to be direct. You need to start breaking rules!
Do the exercise. With some urgency. Then take action. You don’t need to go alone. I’m here to walk the path with you, with a whole toolkit to help.
I wish you love and a kiss on the brow for courage. This is the how of things, the Tao of Innovation, how things happen, how things start.
 Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of Love
 Barbara L Fredrickson
#flowinaction #wellbeing #imagination #ideas #creativity #innovation #entrepreneurship #purposedriven #values #resilience #socialinnovation #sustainability #sdgs #climateaction #noplanetb
Somewhere along the way, you signed up to make good change happen in the world. In these unusual times, creating powerful solutions for the planet, means that you need to be more creative than ever.
The deal you make with the Universe, if you’re using the word ‘innovative’ anywhere in your lingo, is that you will need to step into the soupy mess for real and risk doing things differently.
And the moment you do is the time when revolutionary ideas will show up to challenge you on direction, choices, decisions…arriving unplanned and wilfully disrespectful of your status quo.
Often, our first reaction is to curate ourselves based on past hurts and seeming failures.
It plays out a little like the scene from Notting Hill, towards the end in the bookshop.
Your idea arrives and, like Anna, it says, “I was wondering whether you would let me see you a little…or a lot…”
Unnerved by the magnificent possibilities, you, like William, reply, “Can I just say No to your kind request? With you I’m in real danger…my relatively inexperienced heart, I fear, will not recover if I was once again cast aside…”
Startled by something that will take you out of your comfort zone, you haul out all of the old myths and stories to stay safe, all the reasons why not.
Both of these characters are you. Your unique blend of splendid creativity asks to be seen, inviting you to take the risk on something spectacular. The same you, who has chewed the dirt in the arena, as Brene Brown calls it, doesn’t want the agony of hitting the ground again.
And yet, revolutionary ideas are incorrigible in their persistence.
You may be tender-hearted but you are not faint-hearted; deep down you know that a seed of disruption has been planted that will change everything. After all, when you chose to play with the fire of walking the path less well travelled, you knew you were going to get at least a little singed.
What to do then?
As rule-breakers and change-makers advocating for people and planet, saying No to taking action makes us deeply unhappy. And yet, age and experience make us a little wiser than saying a ‘straight-over-the-cliff’ Yes.
What if you said, “Maybe!”
Allowing something extraordinary to unfold starts with, “Maybe…” so that time, tenderness and courage can work their magic, making space for the possibilities to be revealed and explored.
Letting go of past hurts, the fear of future failures and perhaps most of all, the terror that things might actually work out, means learning how to say Maybe.
This is the soupy space I like working with you in. It’s messy, human, real. It’s the necessary meeting point of love, wonder, joy which are essential for opening up your creativity to be innovative and entrepreneurial.
It’s where I get you to show up authentically, remembering how to take risks as unprecedented you, regardless of age or position.
You called yourself to action with your idea, I give you the tools to say Maybe so that you make massive positive impact in ways meaningful to you.
Get in touch. You can email me email@example.com and we can chat about how I can help you and your team with coaching and workshops.
Oh…and watch the whole film to know the whole story. Bring your own snack, I don’t share my popcorn!
#flowinaction #flow #wellbeing #creativity #love #innovation #entrepreneurship #socialinnovation #socialenterprise #socinn #socent #responsiblebusiness #purposedriven #climateaction #sustainability #sdgs
I set up Flow In Action to be about showing you the pure joy of creating solutions for people and planet. And those solutions are all focused on increasing joy globally by designing around flourishing.
We are inextricably linked to Nature. This is my way of winning hearts and minds for climate action and a fairer way of living for all.
Playing with ideas, using your imagination, being curious and creative to fix real world challenges at a local level increases your wellbeing.
Being well increases your problem-solving creativity, which in turn opens up opportunities to be innovative and feeds your entrepreneurial mindset. You become empowered to be part of the solution as you turn ideas into projects, products and services.
Too often though we think that we are not enough or our ideas don't count or we don't feel that it's ok to be seen and heard. We are afraid to succeed or to fail.
It's no wonder that young people are struggling with mental health issues.
And yet all change starts with an idea...and all ideas start from knowing how to have them...and knowing how to have them comes from being in a safe space where you can show up fully as you.
That's the space I make for you and with you. These are the tools that I equip you with so that you can feel the pure joy of creating solutions in your life, your community, your world. This is how you start your march!
Get in touch. From 1-1 coaching, workshops, training and toolkits - there is a way to take a step forward and take action.
“What do you do when you wake up and feel overwhelmed?” was a question I got when I was talking with Capacity Zurich’s start-up entrepreneurs in April 2019. They were starting to turn the seeds of their ideas into self-sustaining businesses and we were exploring resilience for their ‘entrepreneur’s journey’.
My response went something along these lines, but shorter as time was pressing, so bear with me, as this is something of a love letter to them because they are such an amazing community.
Some days just start like this. And so, what to do to get past that feeling of overwhelm?
For a few moments, reconnect with the fact that you are unprecedented.
Admittedly the enormity of contemplating that there has only ever been a you, right here and now, not before and not coming after…does mess with your perception, a bit like a Max Escher staircase.
But I know of nothing simpler, gentler and more powerful a starting point than this, as a way to be present, let go, change direction, trust yourself to take a leap of faith and do things differently. You are a point of light in an unfolding cosmos, on this pale blue dot. A fractal of energy, rising and falling and rearranging.
It takes a nanosecond to practice, acting like a love-bomb filling you with colour and courage. The more you practice it, the more choices you get back, the more resilient you are – having the capacity to adapt in a constantly changing environment – softening into trust.
It gives you a different kind of courage because it’s not about ego (please note, feeling loved by feeling credible will frequently keep you trapped and get in the way of your best problem-solving). The best leaders and problem-solvers I’ve ever worked with and met, have been the humblest of people; and (from experience) the intra- and entrepreneur’s journey will take your ego and jump up and down on it, until you give in, let go, ask for help and keep on asking.
Reflecting on being unprecedented, is an invitation to think about how and where you want to show-up, to take the risk on allowing yourself the time to be deeply connected to others, to slow down long enough to be authentically you, which will fuel your unique engine of imagination and creativity.
Not only are you unprecedented in this bend of time and space, but so is the person next to you, the blade of grass, this year’s Spring flowers, the butterfly, the baby just born in a warzone, the families risking everything in the hope of something better. Once you pause to see it like this, you realise how precious the unique web of life is and how knitted into it you are. You start to own your story. Make like Gerald in Giraffes Can't Dance.
Tell someone else today too, especially a kid and watch their reaction. This kind of Love is disruptive innovation, cutting through overwhelm to what is most important to focus on; and what is needed when we take action for people and planet.
Martha Graham in her letter to Agnes De Mille wrote, “There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost.”
The tipping points we are at in climate chaos are calling on us to do things differently; to embrace being fully human.
As changemakers, if we are exhausted then we can’t arrive in each day with our problem-solving creativity to challenge the status quo of zero-sum economics. It is harder to show-up with fresh insights, innovative ideas and the capacity to take real climate action.
Thus, the burn-out of leaders, entrepreneurs, impact investors, educators - concerns me greatly. I've been part of this tribe for 25 years, so I know how many of you have experienced, or are, experiencing it.
It bothers me when you’re lonely, tired, heart-broken, lost, jaded, fearful. And, most especially when you settle for a half-way house in your “one, wild and precious life” as Mary Oliver calls it in her poem, The Summer Day.
We are being invited to be braver than ever, not by pushing harder but by walking back into ourselves to design solutions around flourishing, to create a different, better type of nudge.
And what of flourishing personally? It is in noticing and creating the profoundly loving and positive connections that go deep and broad in the micro-moments of our everyday lives. Practice it so that you can build it.
David M Carter, describes how cultivating these positive emotions inspires environmentally responsible behaviours, so actually there is an even higher, useful purpose to you doing this:
“First, positive emotions expand and deepen our awareness that we are each a connected part of a much larger living system; the Earth. With greater awareness of this interdependence, our values, intentions, and actions become transformed. Second, positive emotions broaden our vision, resourcefulness, and capacity to creatively and effectively address environmental problems. And third, positive emotions help us to authentically connect with the things in life that are most precious. This authentic connection leads to greater happiness and well-being, and reveals indubitably that consumption levels in excess of what we need serve no purpose toward our overall life satisfaction.” (Carter, D.M., (2009) Cultivated Positive Emotions Inspire Environmentally Responsible Behaviours. University of Pennsylvania.)
The planet needs you to do things differently. Greta and a whole host of other advocates made a stand this week.
And it needs us to do differently so that we generate this connection to the ecosystems that sustain us. Whatever tidy plans you might have, with your back to back busy, I can guarantee that the Universe will send a messenger first, who will invite you to slip headlong into flourishing (the Arhuaco tribe have spoken); and when you don’t listen, she will unravel you to make sure you do, as described beautifully by Brene Brown.
As changemakers, we are on this path of ‘wrestling with angels’, as Stephen Jenkinson calls it...
“If you wrestle an angel, you will grow muscle. There’s no doubt of that. You will also hurt in places that you didn’t know you had. There’s no doubt of that either. And you will lose, by the normal calculus of trying to engineer the life that you’re sure you deserve. It will not come out as you planned, wrestling angels. Your plans are usually the first casualty of the match. But here is that great secret of it: you will be able to boast of your defeat. You will be able to stand in the wreckage of what used to be your certainty, your creed, your way of doing life’s business, and you can tell wild, true stories about how it all came to ruin. Whatever is left standing - and there is always something left standing when you wrestle angels - is the thing that was true about you and your life all along, as faithful a companion as the Earth that will one day cradle you again.”
To take this path is to commit to the revolutionary act of loving, to live those positive emotions that David M Carter refers to; as a way of opening up your deepest creativity and contribution for the planet, to decrease the suffering of others. This is what is left standing after you have wrestled with angels. The sum total of light in the world that you, being unprecedented, contributed.
I’m also one of those messengers extending the invitation.
So, I’m asking, what if you did things differently? What if you broke the routines of a lifetime that have made you content with safe discomfort? What if you chose ‘more’…given it’s in the interests of saving the planet? What if you designed everything around flourishing?
The moment when someone allows an idea to form fascinates me.
It is like watching the Universe tenderly kiss them on the brow and encourage them out into the spotlight.
Whether a child or an adult, it’s a moment so pure in its vulnerability, a splitting of light refracted as they surrender to that unique expression of their unprecedented self.
It is a moment of great courage, suspended between two shores; a choice to step past fear and shame and doubt to take the risk on what may seem impossible.
The fact that I get to see and share this moment with people of all ages, like the start-up entrepreneurs working in Capacity Zurich’s amazing entrepreneurship programme for refugees and migrants, is a great honour; or the students from British School India in my workshop at the UN last week.
I am filled with an urgency to create these moments with you, because we need to imagine a different future than the trajectory that we are on. We need to imagine it in order to create it; and we need to create it by designing around happiness.
With that in mind, I am prescribing ‘wonder’ for everyone as a fast-track approach for inspiring incredible ideas for doing more good for people and planet.
Diane Ackerman wrote, “Wonder is the heaviest element on the periodic table. Even a tiny fleck of it stops time.”
I’ve been having some chats with Dr Vlad Glavneau, Director of the Webster Center for Creativity & Innovation Unit at Webster University in Geneva, and his working definition of wonder is: “Wonder and wondering deﬁne a particular type of experience whereby the person becomes (more or less suddenly) aware of an expanded ﬁeld of possibility for thought and/or action and engages (more or less actively) in exploring this ﬁeld.” (Glavneau, V.P., (2017) Creativity and Wonder. The Journal of Creative Behavior, Vol. 0, Iss. 0, pp. 1–7)
I love creating the spaces for wondering, as powerful, alchemic places of embedding wellbeing and resilience; as well as the tools for taking action.
Children and young people are so open and passionate in their creativity, it’s like watching a blizzard of butterflies emerge. As adults, you just take a bit longer to get to this place, because you’ve forgotten how to break your rules and take the risk on opening your hearts. Ah, but when you do, it’s a thing of great beauty.
We need more wonder and wondering. It is a reclaiming of being ‘fully human’ in our connection to the planet and each other which needs to happen rapidly. It is a groundswell of more love as a social mission, the start of change, the seed of incredible ideas. Me, I’m a Star Wars watching, wild mountain woman walking under the full moon, rebellious librarian-type of wonderer.
And you? What do you wonder? What do you find wondrous? Take a breath, open up to wondering today. Listen to the revolutionary response inside of you and roll with it.
I’ll wrap up with the wisdom of Alice Walker in The Color Purple, “I think us here to wonder, myself. To wonder. To ask. And that in wondering bout the big things and asking bout the big things, you learn about the little ones, almost by accident. But you never know nothing more about the big things than you start out with. The more I wonder, the more I love.”
Young people need to know that life is worth living and that their actions can create a positive shift.
Why bother with hope?
Being hopeful is a key factor in wellbeing. Plus…
“Researchers have found that students who are high in hope have greater academic success, stronger friendships, and demonstrate more creativity and better problem-solving They also have lower levels of depression and anxiety and are less likely to drop out from school.” 
Make space for far-fetched ideas
Inspire hope in young people by getting them to have far-fetched ideas to change the world and save the planet.
“Hope arises in dire circumstances in which people fear the worst yet yearn for better…Hope creates the urge to draw on one’s own capabilities and inventiveness to turn things around.”
Before the innovation comes the invention. Before the invention comes the ideas.
We need every young person to know that having far-fetched ideas is the starting point of taking action to halt the current zero-sum game for people and planet.
Their hope starts with their creativity.
Global Citizens – The class of 2018
The GenZ young people that I talk to, as well as the Millennials, see themselves as ‘humans without geographic boundaries’ - a new era of global citizens wanting to take action on climate change, world peace and ending poverty.
We need our young people to be hopeful in their own capacity…not for someone else to swoop-in to save the day, but in their own capacity to take action for positive change, within their lives and communities.
NB: Do Things for Others sits in first place as Action for Happiness’ 10 Keys to Happier Living
What can you do on Happiness Day to inspire hope?
Celebrate every young person, regardless of academic ability, as an agent of change.
Appoint each one as an innovator able to save the world by taking action through their unique creativity and strengths.
Round off your Happiness Day by celebrating Hope as a character strength that every one of them has as a community of global citizens.
Wishing you a joyful, hopeful, awe-filled Happiness Day!
Inspiration for opening up your unique blend of creativity to take action for people and planet