Jackie sits on my shoulder – she is my challenge and support around values. Jackie is our Advisor on values, and is helping us ensure they are living through all of our work. She helped us to develop our value-based recruitment process, and over the next few months, we will be developing and sharing practical ways to stay focussed on bringing our values to life. I asked Jackie to introduce herself here.
“Why?”. It’s a big question and from an early age my absolute favourite.
Wondering why took me first into zoology: specifically behavioural ecology, exploring what lies behind the things that animals do in response to their environment and circumstances. For the first fifteen years after graduating I had an amazing time. Working with chimpanzees and frogs and ducks and geese and swans and flamingos (but not all at the same time) I wandered through the disciplines of project management, PR, volunteering and education.
There was something I never understood. When I and others could see that mother earth was suffering ‘why’ the majority of the population just carry on regardless. Finally, as Head of Education and Visitor Services at WWT Martin Mere, pulling together summer holiday projects with the help of local people who were gaining experience through an employment programme, the penny dropped. I lived in a different world. I had spent years seeking to ‘see’ the worldview of different animal species. I had learned how to translate those lives for journalists or tourists or school pupils so that they could see what I could see. Yet over that time I had become oblivious to the way we human beings experience our respective personal worlds differently from one another, prompting us to behave in our own ways.
It was time for a change.
Six years at Sefton CVS followed. I looked after employment programmes under New Deal, lottery funded community development teams and became immersed in the worlds of Neighbourhood Renewal, ESF, ERDF, SRB and a whole host of other acronyms I shall not bore you with here. Learned a lot, won a bunch of awards, upset some apple carts and eventually, became so frustrated with (as I saw it) the unnecessary complexity of programmes and projects that, in 2004 I jumped ship to paddle my own canoe.
Paddling that canoe is where you find me now. It wasn’t until 2005 that I realised I had gone full circle: I was back working on ‘why’. As a freelancer I spent time with clients figuring out why things weren’t working or why partners didn’t play nice: why things were working and why stakeholders were supportive; why some people cared and some people didn’t. In the concrete jungle of human interaction the actual values of the people of the place were the root of the visible behaviour – the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ and worldviews were key.
I love working with values. Why? Partly because we all have values so they have the potential to unite us. Partly because each of us has our own unique pattern of personal priority values so they can also embrace our diversity and amplify our individuality. To be conscious of my values I find creates greater capacity to deliberately bring my best to my challenges, and to be kinder to myself if it doesn’t pan out quite right.
Working with Helen on the good ship Wellbeing Teams is a joy. From a values perspective every person is unique and remarkable. Using conscious values practice we are striving for deep transparency in the work for both carer and cared for, to help create the conditions for human flourishing. With a little luck in a little while, we’ll be able to share with you through a values lens just ‘why’ it works………