coaching, event, professional development


If you aren’t much of a reader, this is for you; if you have an opportunity to work with @SimonHeath1; Simon Heath, take it.  That’s all.

For the readers, here is my personal account of #mydoodleday. 

We met on a boat that was actually a pub.  It looked like a boat.  And as we drifted in, a bit sodden from a rainy Trafalgar Square, it felt like a boat too.  Our Captain?  Captain Awesome.  It said so on his T-Shirt.  Otherwise known as Simon Heath.

I had arrived early and was lucky to meet @smartco; Anne Marie McEwan .  We shared our fears about the day.  Drawing?  Really?  I hadn’t been able to join in the twitter exchanges with the group about the excitement of the day ahead.  I felt a bit sick when I woke up and rushed off to the art shop to buy some pens and paper.  A good reminder of how people can feel when they decide to try something new.  I had chosen the wrong paper to go with the pens. The nice man who had been hiding behind shelves of paints helped me.  I felt about 6 years old.

So I’m on a boat eating fish and debating the potential disconnectedness of mindfulness.  A debate where big thoughts are easily discussed and passed around the table like the salt and pepper.  We poked and prodded freely in to the latest trends in leadership, development and all things human.  A delicious conversation.

Our Captain shared the brief.  4 x 10 minute slots where we were invited to go to The National Gallery with a specific focus.  We were encouraged to notice what attracts us, to slow down, to observe patterns in what we noticed.  We had an hour to walk with our question in mind and to see what came up for us.  If you have experience of street wisdom, as some of our gang had, then my understanding is we were drawing from that approach.  No pun intended.

I had my question in mind.  “What box do I want people to put me in?”  OD is a sprawling mass, filled top to bottom and side to side of stuff and stuff that we don’t have words for.  Well, we do have words but people need to pass go and collect £200 before they can begin to understand them.  Not everyone has £200.  The language can create a separateness which is the opposite of the intention, or my intention, of creating connectedness and flow.  Development for me means openness and accessibility to what is real.


I realised I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of a “box” when I wrote my question down.  This level of discomfort was confirmed when I completely missed that we were supposed to go in the gallery for the first exercise.  Instead, I spent my first 10 minutes enjoying sign language with street yodas and watching pigeons being brilliant.*  I don’t want to be in a box.  I want to be outside, quite literally.  So I changed my question.  “What’s my thing?”

“Sorry, I didn’t realise I was supposed to go in the Gallery.  I know there aren’t any rules, but I’m guessing there are parameters.  Do I have to go in there?” I said.

“No you don’t have to go in there.  Do what you need to do” came the reply from Captain Awesome, who was displaying his awesomeness.

The Independent

So I wandered about.  I noticed a Quaker Meeting House whose doors were locked; Gym Box advertising The Perfect Woman; The Independent 5 stars painted above a playhouse doorway; and Waterstones.  I can’t resist a bookshop.  I perused the books and admired the bird cards. I asked the man behind the till how he got his job.  He had an MA in Creative Writing and he told me it helps if you have an addiction to books.  Later that night I put my 2 new books on the pile of 8 I am currently burrowing my way through.  I thought; yes.  I have that.

Back outside, I stood on a corner sheltering from the rain and began to wonder if this isn’t just one big motorway.  Lane after lane of pace and conformity and networks and blogs and jobs and no jobs and questions, and calendars being flipped page after page, and the traffic runs and runs, and we run and run and we never arrive, even though we have had, and know people who have had, moments where they did, arrive that is.  If that is the motorway I thought, I choose a country ramble.   I felt a strong sense that I wanted to go home and spend some time in nature.

It was then I noticed @fuchsia_blue; Julie Drybrough.  My question pinged back to me.  “What’s my thing?” I knew Julie had a thing.  The week before, @dds180; David D’Souza and I had picked apart the concept of open learning environments where engineers share knowledge with each other, free of speakers and agendas.  We poked about to see if there is any value in a similar set up for HR professionals.  David and I agreed I would speak to Julie as a next step; “Speak to Julie about dialogue.  Dialogue is her thing”.

Julie was looking at a map….. by now I was noticing everything and that seemed important.  I said to myself, if she turns this way I will ask her how she knew what her “thing” is.  If not I’ll leave her to her wandering.  Julie turned round and crossed over the road towards me.

So I asked her.  And as we discussed and debated, through dialogue I learned about more than dialogue.  I realised the level of my own development and that an MSc isn’t always required for others to recognise the level of the value you bring.  I remembered the value of life experience and of sharing that with others.  I caught sight of myself spending a lot of time reflecting, thinking, reading and writing.  I design it in to my life.  I realised this is my “normal”.  I learned my box isn’t always up to me.  I remembered that self-focus is required for our own development, and for me to be at my best this needs to be kept in balance with connection with others.  I will try not to start anymore sentences with “I”.

So that was crystallising and draining, and I was glad we were all meeting up again for a glass of wine, to connect and share.  We were tired.  Some people were more open with their questions and their experience of the day.  Some were more closed.  Emotions were closer to the surface.  Our Captain noticed, ensured we were all doing okay and we jumped in cabs to The Doodle Bar.

Doodle Bar 2

At The Doodle Bar we doodled and learned about how lines make things appear on paper.  We drew dragons and turtles.  The people who worked upstairs from the bar were fascinated and Instagram connections were made.  A table of people busy doing something!  We were having a lot of fun in a very safe container ship.

As I mastered the turtle and turned my attention to birds, Simon told me about seeing a Hobby (a bird) in his garden and described that moment, that split second of a thrill, when you know you are looking at something special.  That is what I felt when I got the invite to #mydoodleday and how I came to be there.  Thank you for the invite Captain.

*If you aren’t yet down with the brilliantness of pigeons I recommend googling “GI Joe pigeon”