I didn’t know where I was going when I began

Views from Beinn Mhor, South Uist

I’m writing this on the edge of transition. In two months my life will look different.

I’ll be living across two homes, one in the North and one in the South. Trying to maintain and grow the social business I started just over two years ago. Striving to increase our impact in the communities and organisations we’re serving whilst becoming an organisation that flourishes through the quality of work we deliver and supports the people we employ to thrive.

I’ll be married, legally connected to another, promising to stick it out through thick and thin. !

I’ll be half way to 70. Gulp.

Right now, on the edge of this transition I’m contemplating the culture I’m creating for myself and those around me. Having just finished a three day IFF course on 21st Century Competencies my mind is a jumble and a mess.

The three days were inspiring, challenging but uplifting and I would recommend to anyone curious about an exploration into leadership fit for uncertain times. The course is a great introduction into ‘not knowing’ as the pioneering Graham, Alex and Maureen put it!

Of course the future is unknown, we’re all improvising and everything is always changing, all of the time. So I can take a step, hold space for myself to feel the discomfort — and if it doesn’t work out, I can learn. Everything is ok.

I know that if we can’t care for ourselves then how we care for others. But why is it so hard to practise this? Learning what healthy boundaries look like and experimenting (and repeatedly getting it wrong) putting them in too strong or too soft, has been a key theme of the last few years for me.

I wonder if there’s something I need to learn now about just letting go of the heaviness. Seeking to play a little and trust that maybe deep down, I’ll know. One thing that we mentioned in the training was about getting out of the way of ourselves. All the qualities of ‘being, being together, doing and knowing’ are innate in all of us. But they (the qualities) need space and safety to flourish. To cultivate the authentic confidence needed to embrace multiple perspectives and not feel threatened. To grow self awareness to see that equal and opposite are also true, all of the time. To live a sense of interdependence at all levels, human and planetary — for it is impossible to be competent alone.

At times this can feel overwhelming. The push and pull of our own sense of success or need to control is in stark contrast to this way of living and being, of letting go. The fear of alienation and isolation when we feel like we’re not good enough or we got it wrong can overtake everything else.

But perhaps this journey into the unknown will help me to recognise myself as enough. Letting go of the person I’m trying to become — seeking her not outside of myself. Instead, seeing that I was there all along, just hiding, underneath.

(This counts for you/us all too but I wanted to speak in the ‘I’ as it felt more real and less bossy!).

Looking over to Luskentyre, Isle of Harris.



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Phillippa Banister

community building / collaborative visioning / designing / coaching & listening @street_space_