This blog reflects on life at work at comments on the latest news that shapes my 9-5 working day in a Corporate Communications consultancy.

About Me

I am a born and bred South African who has always loved to read and write. As a child my mother used to read to me and my siblings, from classics like the “Lord of the Rings” but later also from her own stories. She would write children’s stories and then use us as her test audience, but I loved to hear what she had written long after my siblings had tired of it. So I grew up in an environment of reading and writing, which inspired my love of these things. I hope to write a great book some day, and have learnt first hand the determination and will that it takes. My love of English inspired me to continue my study of it at university. I majored in Law and English in a BA degree at UCT where I found that I took to English much more than law. I enjoyed learning about South Africa’s history and the development of our liberal Constitution, which increasingly made me committed to the hope this country has for the future. Ideally, I’d like to find myself in a job where I am able to write; that allows a good mix of time spent with people and being able to work on my own.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

The universe of YES!

Last night I went to watch the movie “Freedom Writers” with Hilary Swank. Hilary Swank plays Miss Gruwell, a young, idealistic teacher whose first job is at Woodrow Wilson High school in Long Beach, California, at a time when the area is racked by gang violence. She is assigned the “dumb” group- a bunch of thirteen and fourteen year olds who have all been directly affected by the violence around them, and many of them are members of gangs or have been to jail. Gruwell sets out to make a difference in their lives. From the first day her project is seen as naïve idealism and she is met with little support from all sides- her head of department, her principle, her husband and her father all criticise her. Despite these ‘no’s’, with time she gains the respect of her pupils and she continues to choose to see the best in each one of them. She buys them books with her own money, organises and personally pays for a trip for them- things which no one had thought to do because they didn’t choose to look at this group as ‘worth’ the effort- they were always branded the ‘delinquents’, the ‘losers’. “I couldn’t believe that Miss G would do all those things for us,” a touched student wrote in his diary.

Miss Gruwell’s vision for her class was always in the ‘YES’. Ignoring the resounding ‘no’s’, she looked for the endless possibilities in the people around her. Her attitude inspired a force of change in her students, who took her positive vision and ran with a project that sprang from their own initiative. The group took her belief in them to heart and were able to exceed her expectations.

Watching this movie, I learnt that to really make a difference requires getting into that universe of yes. During Roy’s creativity session, we used the concept of Edward de Bono’s six thinking hats of creativity, and had to ‘change hats’ during the day according to what we felt we needed to do. At one time, I chose white- the mode of yes: answering, “Why will it work? What’s right about this?” I realised that I have a tendency to knee-jerk into negative thoughts, automatically thinking why something won’t work. To inspire change, requires learning to quieten the little voice of my inner critic, to put it under the table, so that I can inhabit the universe of endless possibilities, the world of YES!

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