Peeling Back to Real: Finding Inspiration in Small Things

Captivating Ideas

Recently I have been lucky enough to listen to and contemplate a number of powerful ideas. For example I attended a Networking Breakfast hosted by Plymouth University in which emerging research on business ‘purpose’ was shared by inspirational speakers from the business school and PWC.  I have been watching some of the inspiring video footage from the second anniversary of HeForShe presentations at the United Nations General Assembly. And I have discovered Empower Women, a global movement comprising over 12,000 passionate and ambitious women and men from the private sector, civil society, academia, governments and international organizations in more than 190 countries driving change for women’s economic empowerment.

Absorbing all of the above can feel a little like a double-edged sword. The concepts are not necessarily new,  but I am seeing them in new ways and am enthused to make use of them, right now! This is all well and good but it can lead to a sense of overwhelm. I understand the merits of peeling away the layers and finding something that works for me. Sometimes though, the harder you think about it, the  more complex the picture seems.

The answer I have found, is to think a little less and ‘be’ a little more. Easier said than done of course, but when you allow the process to flow, it is effective.

Gardens and Good Afternoons

Here’s how it happened to me last week. As I walked into town I passed an elderly gentleman and wished him ‘good afternoon.’ I’m sure that in some parts of the world this will not sound unusual but here in the West of England people who are strangers would not automatically expect to acknowledge each other. The gentleman looked up quizzically and asked me if we knew each other. I explained that I was just being friendly and he smiled. He went on to tell me about his daughter, wondering if I knew her. The conversation was,  in one sense, meaningless  with no useful outcome. In another sense, however, something priceless and significant happened.  Although difficult to put into words, it was about connection.

Later in the day I was talking with a colleague and friend in the USA about empowering women leaders to inspire from a place of authenticity. We were reflecting how technology to open up new and wider global horizons – we had met through a LinkedIn group – and somehow, I’m not sure quite how, the conversation arrived at the Summerville, SC branch of Katie’s Krops, a community youth movement whose aim is to aim is to end hunger, garden by garden.

The Power of Small

During a walk in the countryside at the end of the day what struck me was a new feeling of clarity. Somehow the impromptu conversation and the vision of children growing vegetables had made sense of all the initial intellectual stimulation. I realized that I was feeling happy because I had made a difference to someone through a very small action, and that talking to my friend had fed me more than I would have expected, from a logical perspective anyway. Also that the work I love around inspiring women in men’s worlds to own and value their strengths does not need to happen all at once – it can grow, one onion at a time.

There is no rule that says we have to make things hard for ourselves. Sometimes letting go, and noticing the ‘small stuff’ will carry the most power. As Mother Teresa  said, “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.

Questions to take you further

  • How much pressure do you put on yourself to implement absolutely everything you have learned?
  • How does ‘doing less and being more’ resonate with you?
  • What small things might you be missing that could make a big difference to what is important to you?

Find out more about the work Clare McNamara does with leaders and their teams on influence and authenticity.

© Move Ahead Global 2016

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  • Lisa Schiller
    Posted at 20:39h, 14 October Reply

    Your insight is always so clear and refreshing, Clare, thank you! I’m in a busy airport on the way home from 5 days of travel & jam packed, intense and super productive/innovative meetings with my colleagues and my mind has been racing with all that needs to be done to a) catch up on all email/calls, projects b) implement breakthrough ideas that were born in the meetings c) get my out of control 120 pound puppy trained d) do laundry/clean house/TN errands and oh yes, spend time with my precious daughter. Then I read your words, breathed and started imagining a Saturday afternoon working in the garden with my daughter and as my mind stilled… all the other priorities started to align and come into focus. One layer at a time….

    • Clare McNamara
      Posted at 20:47h, 14 October Reply

      So glad the post had a calming effect Lisa. I can’t claim to know exactly how this kind of magic happens, but just being open to possibility is important I think, which you obviously are, even if sometimes that’s on a more subconscious level. Enjoy the garden this weekend with your daughter- you’ll return to work with a different perspective and maybe some solutions that require less effort than anticipated.

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