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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
After more than 24 years working in social change, I have a joyful longing which is bubbling over, a need to disrupt the status quo, a burning desire to do as Rumi suggested, “Run from what's comfortable. Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious. I have tried prudent planning long enough. From now on I'll be mad.”
I want to talk about love. Love. Love as a social mission. Loving yourself. Love as the gateway to remembering you are ‘of’ the planet and that it breathes you, so your business solutions must be ‘for’ it too.
If we are going to win hearts and minds on taking action for the planet, we need to radically practice the compassion and collaboration that we preach. I think we are all exhausted by the toxic, non-collaborative environments and behaviours, which get disguised and excused under the urgency of an organisation’s compassionate vision and mission. A review into Amnesty International’s workplace culture published this week isn’t unique by any stretch of the imagination.
An economist I know, with his start-up business of delivering poetic messages of love to people, broke this wide open for me, astonishing me awake, giving voice to the very thing that I think I have always been burning to say, giving me the courage to finally say it out loud.
I want to smash numb hearts open with love and joy and awe and gratitude. Because what happens then is the dam-burst of your unique, incredible, exquisite, problem-solving creativity. Invention. Innovation.
Oh yes, also important to mention. I haven’t made this up, it is all backed by the science of wellbeing, particularly the work of Barbara Fredrickson. Positive emotions deepen your connection to your creativity, your resilience and your resources for taking action. More profoundly, they connect you to a sense of one-ness with the planet and those around you.
I have this crazy idea. It’s a bit like the Footloose moment we all dream of having…(a guilty pleasure, maybe just me then)…this delicious urge to dance into your organisations with their social missions, and start talking about love as a social mission, to see the jaws drop open, the wriggles of discomfort, the down-right irritation. I know when I get those moments of resistance that I have hit the nail on the head and dropped in the pebble of disruption.
With our social missions, we are a huge eco-system – from impact investors to solopreneurs and everything in between. If we really want value-added for people and planet, then love is our answer within our own organisations and partnerships.
In the words of Freddie and Bowie which never get old, “love dares you to care for the people on the edge of the night and love dares you to change our way of caring about ourselves.” © Under Pressure lyrics Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC.
Imagine achieving the Sustainable Development Goals before 2030. Do you want that for real? Do you dare to get there by being notorious? Will you take the risk on love?
If you answer yes, you need me to come dancing into your organisation. If you answer no to any of these questions, you definitely need me to come dancing into your organisation.
With processes and practices we’ll work on developing wellbeing and collaboration for you and your teams, so that you achieve your business goals for people and planet.
Someone asked me this week why I focus on getting people, especially young people, to play with ideas. It is a key part of my practice because it is a ‘change-maker space’ for building resilience, the capacity to adapt to challenges and continue to move forward in life.
In this space with me, everybody gets to build the ingredients that go into being resilient because everybody gets to play.
Why do I care about kids being resilient?
Because it is an essential part of their wellbeing, as well as the personal life-skills that they need to take action in making positive change happen.
…and we need GenZ to take action more than ever!
Giving them to passion to achieve the SDGs using their creativity, connects to a profound sense of their purpose in their lives.
Take 3 ingredients
Here are three of the ingredients that increase resilience; they are also character strengths that play a role in wellbeing.
> Empathy – Defined as the ability to understand and share other people’s feelings, we connect by exploring their everyday experiences and other people might be experiencing those things too.
> Risk-taking – When we play, we are adventurers and adventurous in our thinking and actions; we take incredible risks, adapting as we go and picking ourselves up when things don’t go to plan.
> Flexible Thinking – We change perspective, choosing new ways to see challenges, making sure that we recognise challenges as events that are ‘specific, external and temporary’ rather than down to who we are.
Play, play, play
And so, we play within our ethical framework: freestyling, iterating, dreaming up the seemingly impossible, saying the simple obvious things too; gently building our resilience, ready to adapt as we go.
We play as equals in our creativity, creating a prism of insights where everyone’s voice matters, because in that ‘space between’ the rules, is exactly where we will find our courage to do something different. And that something different, might be the very thing that changes everything.
To quote Picasso, “I start with an idea and then it becomes something else.”
It is breath-taking to watch the alchemy at work when young people are in this space. I see their joy and it is contagious.
Because of these resilient agents of change, I am hopeful for the world we are in.
 Reivich, K., 2003. The Resilience Factor: Seven Essential Skills for Overcoming Life’s Inevitable Obstacles. Crown Publishing Group.
 Zolli, A., 2013. Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back. Business Plus
Today, choose to shatter the myth you tell yourself, the one where you say, “I’m nothing special! How can I have impact?”
You are unprecedented. You were not born to fit in.
Fitting in means that you have to diminish yourself in some way to conform to someone else’s rules. You belong to the tribe that crosses boundaries to live their purpose.
You move mountains simply by being yourself and by using your unique creativity to find answers.
This is how you make impact in ways that are meaningful to you.
Becoming present to your unique perspective, your brand of magic, tunes you into knowing how to find the answers.
It tunes you into your immense capacity to create solutions. It is an approach to life and taking action.
You own your fulfilment because you are acting from the space of your creativity and also are open to learning more.
Make today, a day of coming home to yourself, which brings me to John O Donohue's poem, To Come Home To Yourself:
"May all that is unforgiven in you
May your fears yield
Their deepest tranquilities.
May all that is unlived in you
Blossom into a future
Graced with love."
When you feel more awe, one of the ten positive emotions for human wellbeing identified by positive psychologist Dr Barbara Friedrickson, you “open up to new possibilities and ideas.” 
We feel awe when we encounter “beauty or goodness on a grand scale”  or another definition, “Awe is the feeling of being in the presence of something vast that transcends your understanding of the world.”
We can feel awe in everyday life, as well as in the extraordinary.
I experienced it this morning when I was out having a walk. After days of monochrome, it is a jaw-droppingly beautiful, bluebird day. And, I am filled with awe. Breathing in awe. Finding stillness. All my senses opening up to the sunshine.
I wasn’t unhappy when I left the house, but I’m definitely happier as I slow down and allow myself to take in everything around me.
Awe as a Trigger for Sustainable Action
A key trigger for feeling awe is being in nature, exploring it, watching it, learning about it.
Surely then, creating opportunities for young people to feel more awe by connecting to Nature, is a crucial part of empowering them as agents of change, able to take action to solve sustainability challenges.
Why? Because it builds the point of empathy that they are part of an ecosystem, not separate from it. It connects them to their creativity as they explore the phenomenal interconnectedness of the world around them, inspiring them to be problem-solvers.
How can you build more awe?
I create ‘change-maker spaces’ where I get children and young people to play with ideas, taking a challenge from one of the Sustainable Development Goals and exploring how to solve it with them.
As they research, I’m getting them to connect to awe, to be amazed at the elegant solutions that Nature already has in place and getting them to use all of this to inspire their innovative problem-solving.
Experiencing awe then, allows us as individuals to feel more positive emotions. Not least, I think, because using it in the context above also inspires hope – another of the top 10 emotions - that we can take positive, affirmative action for the planet.
Protecting the planet is to be our best as humans and we need to give young people hope that they can and do have a positive impact.
Studies have also shown that experiencing awe, prompts greater kindness and “leads people to cooperate, share resources, and sacrifice for others, all of which are requirements for our collective life.”
When we help others, we feel happier. It is an ingredient in our own fulfilment. Action for Happiness identifies “Do Something For Others” as one of its 10 Steps for Happier Living.
Making awe the lens that you look through, placing each of the unique humans that you are with into the global ecosystem, opens up a sense of vastness and value for their problem-solving creativity.
Inspiration for opening up your unique blend of creativity to take action for people and planet