A. Leading for the future
When asked to define leadership at the beginning of the year, I proposed we do away with the idea altogether, encouraging networks of interdependent and supportive collaborators instead.
Now that the year has come to a close, I’m not sure if I stand by my definition. On the one hand, I think that’s still my goal – to encourage those I work with to each take the lead in their areas. On the other hand, I have come to accept that this kind of encouragement is itself a form of leadership. It doesn’t happen automatically; it requires intent and skill.
I’m more prepared now to wholeheartedly accept the definition by Stephen Covey that I posted at the beginning of the year: to communicate to people their worth and potential so clearly that they are inspired to see it in themselves.
Based on what I’ve learned this year about listening to myself and my body, I would go a little further. Continue reading
Part 1: Life Audit
I chose to do the Life Audit, which got a little challenging around the 50-goal mark, but then I got a burst of inspiration towards the end. The things about having 100 goals, I’ve noticed, is that you can be a bit “wasteful”, which is a great way for figuring out what you want more of in life. In my case, it was art – opportunities to create and engage in a bit of pottering around. 27 of my post-its had a wish that was art-related, whether it was learning to knit or taking an improv class. I don’t think I can realistically take up all 27, but it’s an indicator that I need at least one. Continue reading
This is a story about a magic wardrobe – but I’m getting ahead of myself here.
So let me start by asking you a question. How many of you believed in Santa Claus when you were little? I certainly did. I believed in Santa long after I’d given up on fairies, and witches, and thinking that if I concentrated hard enough, I’d be able to fly. Year after year, when I opened my eyes on Christmas morning, I would find myself surrounded by toys. Model trains and Lego sets, Barbie dolls, books, puzzles, one of those early Super Soakers – you name that 90s toy, I got it for Christmas.
Let me be clear, though. It wasn’t because I got a lot of toys that I believed. Continue reading
Sri Lankan newspaper The Island ran an article on HM Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday, and included a segment on the Queen’s Young Leaders and the work I do. You can read it here.
About a month ago, I read Simon Sinek’s Start With Why as part of a course I’m enrolled in, and found myself frustrated for a number of reasons. After reflecting on what I wished he had addressed, I realised that my concerns stemmed from my personal preoccupations with the politics of belonging and social inclusion. I began to wonder if other popular thought leaders addressed this politics in their texts on tribe-making, and decided that Seth Godin’s book Tribes was an appropriate starting point.
Tribes is more leadership manifesto than book, with spare prose, lightly sketched examples, and no end-notes. In a sense, it feels strange to so seriously critique a text that is meant more as a provocation than a playbook, but I decided to do it anyway.
Prompt: If you have a website, blog or online document – create an “About Me” page or introduction. It should start off by telling people why you’re doing what you’re doing. It should then explain clearly what it is you are doing, and how you will do it.
Response: See this page. I’ve broken it down into my why (my backstory), my how (the creative arts), and my what (my academic and artistic ventures). I’m finding it hard to keep it short, though, so suggestions for edits are much appreciated!
I like 99U’s punchy articles on getting ahead when what is expected of us is constantly in flux. Here are two short pieces on writing an ‘About Me’ page, and on how a biography trumps a resume.
To write is to share, and to share is to be vulnerable. It’s a risky move. I recognise that, and as I have just unfavourably reviewed Simon Sinek’s Start With Why, I think it only fair to share, and to make myself open to criticism, in return.
As I read the book, I found myself with many questions; Sinek addressed some of these concerns briefly, but as I said, I found them sadly buried under stories that were largely about Apple. Reading the book was illuminating, if only because Sinek’s omissions led me to think more about the mechanics and ethics of defining why I do what I do. Below are some ideas that Sinek hinted at, and some things I concluded on my own, and I wish that the book had made these points more explicit. Or perhaps this is merely the book I would have written. Continue reading
I’m not sure when I first heard of Simon Sinek and his exhortation to ‘start with why’, but it made sense immediately. Shared values bring people together, so of course we should first tell the story of why we do what we do, not let it get lost underneath what we do. When I re-read the transcript of his TEDx talk, however, I found I had a few questions about some of his leaps in logic, so I finally read his book last night for clarity. I found to my surprise and disappointment that the book did not deliver as I expected, and I was left exasperated and angry.
I had hoped for a compelling narrative of how Sinek came to his pithy thesis, replete with clear examples that could be translated into a road map for my own journey. Instead, I found the text to be muddled and meandering, which frustrated me all the more because I was so on board with Sinek’s position. As I read, I found myself coming to certain conclusions about operating with your why as your beacon. Sinek addressed some of these, but they were often buried under a mass of anecdotes. For my own peace of mind, I’ve written a two-part critique here. This first piece discusses what I found unclear and frustrating about the book. The second post outlines how I think a book on finding your why should have been written, calling attention to the almost throwaway comments and observations that I think Sinek should have made central to his book. Below, I’ve outlined my frustrations with the book as is (while trying to be civil and not turning this into a personal attack on Sinek!). Continue reading
Last week I had a chat about Building Bridges with Charitha Adikari, a journalist for the SBS Sinhala service in Sydney. It occurred to me rather belatedly that I’ve never actually spoken formally about my work in Sinhala, and I found myself tripped up by a lot of words and phrases, like social entrepreneur, that aren’t used in everyday speech. This is my first interview in Sinhala, so I can find plenty about my presentation to be critical about (as is typical), but I’m really glad I had the opportunity to do it so that I can get better at talking about my work comfortably in multiple languages. Many thanks also to Charitha, was patiently accommodated my requests regarding scheduling and re-scheduling, and was a very generous interviewer. You can listen to the interview here.