Sunday, 30 October 2011

Respect – A Core Value

I’ve been reflecting on what are my core values as a coach (I have to admit, not as part of my general reflective practice, but enforced by a need to write something for my website – what a terrible admission!)? What is my ethos? What are my values for me as an individual? And particularly for me as a coach that are reflected in how I practice?

Some are immediately easy for me to reel off – equality; being non-judgemental; confidentiality; treating each person as a unique, valuable individual with skills, experiences, relationships, knowledge and qualities that enable them to fulfil their potential.

But on reflection (!) they all seem to come down to one thing – Respect.

This weekend was the Plymouth Respect Festival and what a wonderful, joyous celebration of the diversity that does exist in Plymouth. Plymouth is not currently seen as a particularly cosmopolitan, multi-cultural, diverse city as the communities which are here tend to be small and dispersed. However, the recently set-up Migration Project, being led by The Barbican Theatre, is showing that Plymouth as a static community is quite a recent phenomenon and actually before the twentieth century, Plymouth was truly a place of migrants. The Festival this weekend did bring people out to celebrate and I so enjoyed it.

I have always enjoyed travelling and living and working as part of other cultures, even where this is for a short time. Seeing how other people live – their culture, their families, their values – is such a gift. It opens your eyes to other possibilities, of other ways of understanding and being in the world and enables you to re-assess your own way of life and values; to look at your own family, community and society with rather more detachment and clarity.

I have worked in very different cultures – in Bangladesh and Iraq for instance – but an example of what I mean actually comes from a culture not too dissimilar to ours – Australia.

I travelled to Australia about fourteen years ago travelling round the eastern half of the country and staying with and visiting friends. I have to say I had very prejudicial ideas about Australia before we went  – I thought it was all desert ; full of red-necks drinking lager and no culture – but I was blown away with what a beautiful, friendly country it was and my misconceptions were buried where they belonged!

We celebrated Christmas in Adelaide with close friends. It was chilled (despite the heat), very family-orientated and totally non-commercial. It made me realise how our Christmases has become so tied up with presents, cards, excesses of food and drink and all the material things of Christmas. It challenged my view of how I do things here and made me resolve to do things differently in future to capture some of that joyous, relaxed family time we had experienced and move away from the commercialism.

For the time being, working abroad does not fit my, and my children’s life, so I really value those people from different places and cultures who live in Plymouth coming together here to share some of that experience with me, enabling to learn and challenge my life and values right here.


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