Lately it’s become more apparent to me that quite often we are trying to find our own solutions to collective challenges – challenges that MANY other people are going through. We sit at home and individually or maybe with a partner or close friend, discuss the obstacles we are facing. But we forget that there is a wider net of people going through the exact same thing. Wouldn’t it be great to get all them together or at least some of them and creatively brainstorm your way through the issue? And what about taking it one step further and creating a positive systemic change in the broader community/society? I’m speaking about those problems that we think are personal to just us, but really are not.
Recently I did a review for a novel by a Nigerian author and it was quite a journey. It was uncanny how many of the experiences of the main protagonists were similar to mine and those of other emigres I know. It was a catharsis, and clear to me that so much of what I experienced, others have been through. A lovely friend of mine recently had a baby – and I thought to myself “imagine if along with paid maternity leave, paid paternity leave was the norm in employee contracts”? What a wonderful and impactful idea. What a difference it would make in so many people’s lives. It’s a very real question. Why isn’t paid paternity leave the standard operating procedure in this day and age? It would be great if fathers could be given the support to be even more involved in their young children’s lives. And what a relief to have your tag team partner right there with you as you raise your baby together in those first months?
Another example is the challenge of finding meaningful work. One of the best mornings I spent occurred a few years ago when a girlfriend and I deliberately agreed to meet at a nearby cafe for the specific purpose of openly and honestly brainstorming about the kind of work we wanted to be immersed in, day in day out. It was a discussion unlike any we had previously had. We spoke about what our desired future looked like and more importantly about the steps we could take to get there.
When I got home I was wired, humbled and exhausted. I sat at my desk, tidied up my CV to honestly reflect the kind of work I really wanted, and sat on google for hours creatively searching for the a job. It was then that I discovered ethicaljobs.com.au for instance. And few people I knew back then had heard of that website. I remember thinking, why don’t more people know about websites like this? From there I got a job in the organic food industry. Going to work in jeans and working with people around who I could completely be myself were just some of the benefits. It was at this time I decided to study Life Coaching. I had the head space to finally do it. I’m happy to say that my friend and I are now very much in the process of living that desired future, with both of us immersed in creating our personal businesses. We could have done all this on our own but how long could that have taken, and how lonely would the experience have been?
More and more people realise the benefits of now. Storytelling circles have also become a forum for revealing and discussing similar personal experiences (some of them do it purely for fun but others go deeper and can have quite an impact. Families forming co-ops and shopping together as a powerful group. There are Mens Circles continuing to pop up too. All good things!).
So get together with people you know, invite others you can trust and who want to share. You may have to find people experiencing what you are going through. Collectively brainstorm through these challenges that affect so many of us. The main thing is – it’s got to be a safe space where people can be completely honest and ideas can be generated (so don’t spend the evening telling war stories or sob stories). Or get together with a coach with whom you can feel safe to speak and together come up with the steps to get you where you want to be. I assure you there are many people out there going through the exact same thing.
I’d love to hear your comments.