Thursday, 18 January 2018

Turn on the light - Day 50

Day 50 (Friday 19th January 2018)
50 years ago today, on Friday 19th January 1968, an experiment was undertaken to see
if an earthquake could be triggered by detonating an underground weapon along a
fault line (the experiment was called "Project Faultless").
The residents of the closest towns to the Central Nevada Test Site were briefed about
what to expect, and an atomic bomb was detonated in Nye County at a depth of 3,200 feet (980 m).
The blast, described by the US Atomic Energy Commission as being one megaton,
was believed to be the most powerful nuclear weapon ever exploded in the United States,
and caused upheavals and dropping of the ground in a wide area, breaking windows 87 miles
(140 km) away at a high school in Ely. According to reports the next day, "Buildings swayed
in Salt Lake City and San Francisco", particularly in the Southern Pacific building in the
California city; the tremor caused by the blast was estimated by the University of
California at Berkeley to be 6.0 on the Richter scale.
Last night I was at the Apprenticeships National Awards at the Grosvenor House on Park Lane in London. What a wonderful event and great way to celebrate all that is being done to make work and the people in work better. I live a double life, in that I am Group HR Director for a financial services business but also an elected Governor for one of the NHS's leading Foundation Trusts in London (with both St Thomas' and Guy's Hospitals within the remit). I know in both spheres the positive impact that apprenticeships offer to bright, ambitious people who want to earn and learn. We were shown an inspiring video of Team UK's success at the 2017's WorldSkills cevent held in Abu Dhabi


I am proud of the manner in which my organisation is allocating training and development using the Levy funds to enhance our employees' skills - I have two people undertaking MBAs to help them gain the knowledge and understanding required for their future roles, a significant number of people are undertaking the Institute of Leadership and Management accredited qualifications and we have some apprentices joining both in the branch network and in various support functions.

Today's post is by Denise Sanderson-Estcourt, she, like me, loves watching people learn and grow. Denise has a very busy life: she is an HR, OD and Learning specialist and trainer, she is the HR, OD and Learning Business Partner for the Royal College of Physicians in London, but has also got her own consultancies, such as Damson HR, which provides HR advice. She is passionate about helping people achieve positive outcomes and is a positive person herself. She describes her interests as Family, Fashion, Faith and Football, and one of her other businesses plays to her strengths and interests: she is a popular fashion stylist and image consultant with her own business, Damson Belle - advising individuals on colour, style and cut (hair and outfits) to ensure that they look and feel their best. She is a loving and proud mother of a gorgeous son and an active member of her local church and community. Denise is a blogger with various sites to cover her interests - work, fashion, and health. She lives in London. 

She is active on social media, you can follow her on Twitter (her handle is @DamsonHR).


Last year I really appreciated the impact of a little light into a lot of darkness. 

At times in 2017 I despaired at the world we're in. It felt as if, despite daylight, the days were dark. Forget 'fake news', I've felt many times that they were days of dark news. Terror attacks, Trump, Harvey Weinstein, Brexit troubles, Northern Ireland's peace seemingly less settled, Nazanin's incarceration, the list goes on, with (in my opinion) Grenfell Towers one of the darkest of them all.

As well as the big world stuff was, there were of course personal periods of darkness (because in a 12- month period, who doesn't have them eh?). And in those moments, I'd feel angry, frustrated, sorry for myself. And then I'd feel guilty for feeling sorry for those feelings, given the bigger backdrop. 

But all my personal angst and guilt did was add darkness to the darkness. I can't control the world's light but I could create my own, so I'd remind myself to turn towards the light, towards the moments that made a positive difference. I recognised them consciously. I wrote them down or Instagram'ed them. I reflect on them. I hold on to them. 

And where a positive memory didn't seem in reach, I set out to create a new one by doing actually something, as I'd promised myself I would do in December 2016. And it largely worked. 

I recognise that it doesn't work that way all the time and for everyone. It's not as easy as some would have you believe to manifest good things, positive think your way out. In fact my experience last year was less about deep thinking and more about doing despite.
All (well most!) of my time with my son. A family cruise. My trip to see and old friend in France alone. My girly weekends away. My friends. My personal development. My light bulb moments. Acts of kindness - given and received. Trips to art galleries. Going to the cinema and theatre. Joining a church home group. Time with my family. Time on my own. Self-care. Faith and hope. 

These times were like candles in a sometimes dark room.

In the darkness every bit a light is precious, to be appreciated and reached for.

In the dark sky we don't just see that, the moon and one small shining star - we see many stars, some big, some small, and brighter, some fainter. However many, however bright I find it helps to focus on that because the more we open our eyes and look up to see, the little more bearable the night. It's still night, but it's often star bright!

Christmastime really reflects that.

Every New Year, every day, every moment offers us a fresh start and also the opportunity to be the candle in a dark room or one of those stars on a dark night. 

As JK Rowling wrote for Albus Dumbledore: 

"Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light." 

Sometimes, you've got to find the light first though. And for that, it can help to look within and well as look out. Sometimes too, you have to be the light.

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