So, weekend of 19th — 21st October I flew up to sunny Scotland, Inverness to be exact a mere pit stop before a train ride to Aviemore, where I then found my way to the Ishriach estate.
At the time, I didn’t realise just what an amazing weekend I was signing up to, nor the incredible line up I’d be surrounding myself with.
In just a weekend, I felt like I learnt a lot about myself, what it means to do business in a mindful way and most importantly, I confirmed that autumn is by far my favourite season. But what learnings can I share with you from the amazing lineup of workshops and speakers?
Understand your constrained beliefs
Mark Shayler kicked off the keynote talks with a 2.5 walk in the highlands. The autumnal colours across the valleys, the glorious sunshine and fresh air made the perfect environment for a reflective talk that started us on a path of understanding our constrained beliefs.
Mark told us a lot of anecdotes that highlighted how the assumptions and perspectives that are put on us, limit the way we think of our own abilities.
He spoke about training flea circuses (stick with me). When you’re training fleas, animals that can jump phenomenal heights compared to their size, you put them in a jar. They learn that they can only jump as high as the jar lid. When you release them that’s the height they’ll jump. Very entertaining. But it goes one step further, the next generation of fleas will also only jump as high as the jar lid let’s them.
We all have a jar lid that’s limiting our capability. It might have been an inherited attitude to money, a teacher telling you can’t draw or even the loss in confidence you’ve had after falling over doing the running man (you can tell I might be speaking from experience here).
What I’m trying to say is, take a little time to reflect on some of things you see as personal flaws and think back to where they might come from.
Those are your constrained beliefs and it’s time to break through the jar lid.
If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything
Mark also helped me understand a bit more about the incredible group of people who had been bought together.
He told us the story of being a rebel, organising strikes in primary school and being in the anti apartheid movement in the 80’s.
What I really took away from this, what how important our morals and values are and the way they shape the decisions we make. We are responsible for the things we choose or choose not to do, and we are often lucky enough to have a choice.
If your values and morals aren’t guiding you and the decisions you make, you’ll fall for anything. Life will just pass you by and change won’t come.
Be a conscious consumer
At the top of a hill I heard the words “We all have harm in our pockets. “
My jaw dropped. I know that mobile phones aren’t a good thing, but it isn’t until someone breaks down the pain and trauma that goes into making and distributing our mobile phones that you recognise it for the impact it’s having on the world.
We all have a choice to feed the harm around us, or to be more of a conscious consumer — and take ownership of the decisions we’re making and the impact we’re having on the world, because for the first time in a long time the corporations are listening.
Wild river swimming
How we treat others reflects how we treat ourselves
We spoke a lot about company culture and different work environments, our relationship with the people we work with and the different ways we’ve been treated.
Veronica Fossa told us about her first job in London after moving to the UK from Italy. She was asked to make coffee for the team, and understandably, had never made instant coffee before. She continued to make appalling coffee, and instead of being taught how to improve, her team kept chucking out the coffee and she got fired.
This tells us a lot about the culture of that office, that they weren’t willing to put in the time to help make a simple task easier. It shows the values and lack of understanding for someone not only new to the workforce but new to the country. Ultimately, what it tells me is that what I take for granted could be completely baffling to someone else, and if I would want to be taught, I have to be willing to teach too.
Have a conscious culture
The workshop I ran was very much about culture and how you need to be conscious of the habits you build and what they mean for the teams around you.
Ultimately, what I was explaining, is that if you look after yourself and your team based on a set of shared values, you’ll be able to deliver a higher quality and standard of work that’ll result in much better outcomes for your clients or users.
Do what’s in your heart
What was clear from everyone on the trip was that everyone was driven by their passion. Whether that was to change the way kids are educated through to a better use of data driven decisions, what was clear that this was one passionate group of people.
When you’re surrounded by people do fundamentally do what they love, every single day, it’s easy to take for granted the road it takes to get there. Despite the passion and enthusiasm that was oozing from every conversation, no one shied away from the long and arduous roads that they had taken to get to where they wanted to be.
What’s important to remember is that if your passion and your heart at guiding your decisions, you’ll always be happier for it.
Tiny habits work
One of the final talks of the weekend was from Mike Coulter, who took the stage to talk about tiny habits. What hit me, was how easy it is to implement small, achievable changes into your daily routine that quite quickly then become a habit.
If you base your changes around habits that you already have, like brushing your teeth, putting the kettle on, literally anything that you do everyday without fail, you can quite quickly implement changes that can have a big impact on your life.
So for me, everyday when I put the kettle on in the morning, I now take a seat, take a deep breath and close my eyes. But it just started off by taking a seat, then I added in the deep breath and now I close my eyes, next I’ll meditate for 10 seconds. Slowly but surely, I’ll be meditating my way to nirvana. Tiny habits do work.
Your story matters
When With Love Project took the stage, the dynamic duo absolutely floored everyone with their incredible photography and charismatic story telling.
What truly shone from their talk was not only their friendship, but the love that they had for the individual stories that they were capturing. Not only were they spending their time travelling the country to capture some of the best hidden treasures that the land has to offer, but they were doing so to open the stage to an untold narrative.
I left their talk with a sense of pride in my story, and I left wanting to tell it in a way that could help encourage others to tell theirs.
Change gon’ come
So, it there’s one thing that I really felt inspired by from my weekend in Aviemoe, it’s that Change Gon’ Come (and if you don’t know the Sam Cooke song, now’s your time to get to know it).
It struck me how many people are doing great work across the UK and events like this one, are such an easy way to meet people who can leave you feeling inspired and ready to take on the world.
The future is now and it’s for us to shape.
Let’s do this.