Are you experiencing joy at work?

“When work is a pleasure, life is joy, when work is a duty, life is slavery” (Maxim Gorky)

This is Part II of my series on joy at work, this time from the perspective of an individual employee.  In this article I will explore what an individual’s responsibility is to ensure they’re experiencing joy at work in as much as possible.  This is a central component of what it means for people to flourish.  We spend more than one-third of our working hours at work.  To the extent we are miserable at work and we find it a duty and a chore or a necessary evil, we are not free to experience the fullness of life as it is meant to be lived.

In my previous article I explored what the leaders and managers of an organization’s responsibilities are to create an organizational culture where employees could experience joy at work.  I explained why experiencing joy at work was important for employee health and wellbeing, i.e., their flourishing, as well as how it actually contributes to a company’s productivity.  I noted that four essential ingredients for creating joy at work include meaning and purpose at work, psychological and physical safety, job autonomy and team cohesion (camaraderie).

In this article, I will explore an individual’s responsibility in these same four areas.  To these I will add a final one, choice.

  1. Alignment of our individual meaning, purpose, and values with that of the organization for whom we are working

The Covid-19 Pandemic has now been with us for almost two years and due to new variants and new outbreaks, the end of this unprecedented season still eludes us.   If there’s anything we have learned from this time, it is that life is too short to waste time doing things that don’t give us joy or fulfil that deep internal desire we all have for meaning and purpose in our life.  Most of us have come to recognize that we have invested too much time in doing things that don’t matter and not enough time and energy in the people and activities that do.

The existential nature of the crisis has us questioning the very nature of our existence, i.e., what is our meaning and purpose of life.  Or has caused us to wonder whether human life beyond our material existence, has any purpose at all.  This is normal and natural. 

Many workers are voting with their feet and leaving jobs in droves that no longer give them a sense of meaning and purpose in life.  Successful individuals have quit prestigious positions and started their own companies out of part of what is being referred to as the YOLO exodus.  YOLO is short for you only live once.  One article published in the New York Times in April 2021, chronicles this mass exodus of exhausted Type-A millennial workers (Roose, Welcome to the YOLO Economy) from their current jobs in order to do something that is more meaningful to them.  Many have explicitly stated they are leaving these roles because they want to make a social impact in a particular area of concern; either by creating their own organization, or by working for an organization that shares their particular concern, whether it’s for the environment or for building houses for the homeless.

Alignment between your mission, vision, purpose, values, and those of the organization for which you work will greatly enhance your joy at work.  Every organization has a mission, purpose, vision and values and are organized around doing something.  The sweet spot is when there is approximately 75% alignment or overlap between your mission, purpose and values and that of your organization. There will always be those aspects of the job and the company that you won’t like.  Ask yourself whether you can live with those areas where they are not aligned? 

Is your purpose in alignment with the stated purpose of your organization? Do you know what your personal purpose or mission statement is? 

Too many of us haven’t give much thought to this.  A person’s purpose in life is something that is constant, it is their why, their raison d’etre.  It can be expressed in many different jobs and in different ways in different seasons of our life, but it is our personal why which remains consistent over our lifetime.  This why is the golden thread that provides the central focus for all we do and are in this life.  For example, my why is to help other people find out what their why is. I have fulfilled this why in many different ways, from leading training programmes in different humanitarian aid settings, to 1:1 coaching.

Another way of stating it is what is your onlyness, your uniqueness, what can only you do?  One book defines onlyness as the intersection of gifts, talents, experiences, strengths and passions.  (Merchant, The Power of Onlyness) To help you think more about your why, ask yourself the following questions:

What are you passionate about?  What would you do if money wasn’t an object?  What gets you out of bed in the morning? What are you good at and love doing?  What experiences bear this out?  What is the purpose, or the golden thread, that emerges from all the accomplishments and experiences of which you are most proud?

People also flourish more and experience more joy at work when they are consistently living out of their values. If not, they will feel spiritual dis-ease or cognitive dissonance.  This is what it means to have authenticity and integrity.  Are you being true to yourself in your work life?  For example, if one of your primary values is the climate and you’re passionate about doing something to address climate change, you may experience this dis-ease or cognitive dissonance if you’re working for an oil company that does not make this a primary value. 

What are your main values?  What are the values that motivate you?  Are you living according to those values?  Have they changed in light of the pandemic?  If so, how have they changed

2. Psychological and Physical Safety

The second ingredient is physical and psychological safety. 

In terms of physical safety, the key thing to ask yourself is whether you feel that your employer is looking after your physical safety, especially with respect to the challenges you are facing personally during the Pandemic.  Have they genuinely listened to and addressed your concerns for altered working arrangements, whether through virtual, hybrid, or full-time physical working in the office?

Does your employer have plans in place for returning to work that are equitable and fair, that are sensitive to your unique situation (health, home life, age) as well as to your fears and concerns?

In terms of psychological safety, do you trust your boss, your co-workers and senior management?  Trust is paramount to feeling safe at work.  Do they deliver on their promises?  Do they genuinely listen to you and respect your opinion?  What are the power dynamics like?  Are bullies tolerated?  Is diversity genuinely celebrated?  Are they committed to treating people fairly?  Do you really feel that you can bring your whole self to work or is this something that the organization says, but doesn’t really model? 

 Is your organizational culture one where it is safe to fail or disagree? Or are disagreements and failures swept under the carpet, the ever-present elephant in the room.  Can you be a whistle blower, what happens to whistle blowers? Is fairness an issue?

3. Job Autonomy and your ability to contribute fully to the organization

As employees, we have a responsibility to create to joy at work by proactively doing everything we can to make our workplace better. Instead of complaining or being passive, we are responsible for speaking up where things aren’t working and where things can be better.  If you notice an area that needs improvement, ask yourself what can you do about it?  What change, large or small, could you or your team initiate?

This only works however, if you feel that your job autonomy, the space to have ownership of your job and how you implement it, is respected by your leaders.  If your leader is micro-managing you, this will impinge on the capacity you have to suggest and make incremental changes in your job and in the workplace. 

What scope do you have to innovate or to suggest changes in processes and procedures?  To what extent do you have the space to do implement your work in a way that gives you job satisfaction?

Deep down we as employees long to make an impact and to contribute to our organization.  In fact, it is painful not to be allowed or able to fully contribute, or to not have our contributions recognized and valued.  Brene Brown, social researcher and author, discusses this with Liz Wiseman, author of the new book, Impact Players: How to Take the Lead, Play Bigger, and Multiply Your Impact in her October 18 podcast, Dare to Lead.

Below is an excerpt from the podcast transcript about this need for individuals to contribute to their work

LW:  I’ve learned that people come to work, desperately, desperately wanting to contribute everything they have. Like I can’t find the people who don’t want to show up and play big, I just see people who come to work with this hope of, “I want to be smart, I want to contribute, I want to be part of a team, I want to do something amazing.” But then I’ve watched how leaders can get in their way, how they can get in their own way, and how desperately they want to contribute and how painful it is when they can’t.

BB:  I would say I’ve learned the exact same thing. And it is heartbreaking, in a way, because there is a grief attached to not being able to make good on that goal of wanting to contribute. There is real grief, and people don’t understand what’s happening.

LW:  It’s grief and it’s exhaustion as well, and it’s one of the things that has been so interesting to me, is people describe this experience of being busy but bored or working hard but being under-utilized, not having their gifts and their talents utilized.

If you are not currently experiencing joy at work, it may be because you’re being kept from making meaningful and significant contribution at your workplace.  

Is it possible to address this with your boss?  Or is it time to find new work where you can contribute and make an impact?

4. Team cohesion and camaraderie

As human beings, we are born interdependent on people.  We flourish in relationship to other people.  Many people may not come to work because they necessarily like the work or the organization, but they love their team.  They will not let their team members down.  At work, it’s important to feel that you are part of a community.

Team cohesion was first discovered as being important to individuals flourishing at work by the military.  In the trenches, soldiers became quite close in the face of a common enemy.  They had each other’s back. And this has been born out by hospital workers in the Pandemic.  The situation is horrific and stressful with too many Covid-19 patients occupying ICU beds, but as tired and discouraged as many doctors and nurses are, they show up to work for their colleagues.  There’s a sense of being in it together.


Do people in your organization have each other’s back.  Do you experience a sense of belonging at work?  What is your relationship with your team like?

5. Choice and necessary endings  

Today may be the enemy of your tomorrow, (Henry Cloud, Necessary Endings)

Throughout this article, I have stressed your responsibility to act and choose to find ways to experience joy at work.  However, there may come a time where this becomes impossible in your current workplace, and you need to leave.  That is also a choice and a responsibility.  There is nothing worse than staying too long in a job that no longer brings you joy and then being fired or made redundant.  Or storming out and quitting in a fit of rage.  Far better to leave before this happens.  Believe me I know!  I have stayed in jobs far too long in the past and after the last time, have vowed never to do it again.

Knowing when it’s time to leave is an art.

Assuming you’ve done all that you can and still are not experiencing joy at work, what do you do?  How do you know it’s time to begin looking for another job?  How do you know that it’s time to cut your losses and move on?

Some of the signs that it may be time to move on are:

  • Boredom—you no longer feel challenged by your work
  • Restlessness—a sense that you know there’s more out there for you to do and you’re not doing it
  • Resentment–you feel like you’re giving more than you’re getting back
  • Overwhelming dread of Monday mornings—to the point you don’t want to get out of bed
  • Irritability—everything about your current job irritates you whether something is reasonably irritating nor not
  • Irrational Bursts of anger—comes from repressed resentment and a sense of being unfulfilled and a sense of frustration that people in your organization can do no right

It may be time to transition into another role or possibly make a career change if:

  1. Your meaning and purpose are not sufficiently aligned with that of the organization
  2. You are not being able to fully contribute, your contributions are not valued—you’re not able to fully give from your talents, passions, experiences etc.
  3. The relationships and teams in the organization are toxic 
  4. Trust has broken down
  5. Bullying is endemic and power is regularly being abused.

Finally, ask yourself is your job soul destroying or does your work nurture your soul?

Don’t be a slave.  Discover what work will bring you joy.

If you’re not experiencing joy at work and would like the opportunity to reflect and work through the questions in this article in more depth with a coach, you can book an initial free 30-minute clarity session with me.  It is confusing, emotional, and fraught to think through these things on our own. 

You can email me on nkhogan60@gmail.com

Bibliography and Resources

Brown, Brene 2015 Daring Greatly, Penguin Life, London

Brown, Brene  Podcast, October 18, 2021 Dare to Lead, interview with Liz Wiseman, author of Impact Players

Cameron, Julia, The Artist’s Way

Cherry, Kendra  Locus of Control and Your Life

Cloud, Dr Henry, 2010 Necessary Endings, Harper Collins, NY, NY

Hogan, Nanci, “Covid-19:  An existential crisis? June 2020 for Thrive Worldwide. https://thrive-worldwide.org/blog/covid-19-an-existential-crisis/

Kauffman, Scott Barry, 2020:  Transcend:  The New Science of Self-Actualization, Tarcher Perigee

Merchant, Nilofer, 2017 The Power of Onlyness:  Make your wild ideas mighty enough to dent the world, Viking, New York.

Reese, Kevin, “The Shift: Welcome to the YOLO (You only live once) Economy,”  New York Times,  published April 21, 2021 https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/21/technology/welcome-to-the-yolo-economy.html

Sinek, Simon 2017  Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team,  Portfolio Penguin

Southwick, Steven M. MD and Dennis S. Charney, M.D.  2012 Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenge, Cambridge University Press

Wiseman, Liz, 2021 Impact Players: How to Take the Lead, Play Bigger, and Multiply Your Impact

FROM LANGUISHING TO EXPERIENCING JOY AT WORK

We are more creative as individuals and as teams when we experience joy at work

From languishing to experiencing joy at work

By Nanci Hogan, for ella forums

“People intrinsically seek joy. And joy connects people more powerfully than almost any other human experience.” *

Think for a moment.  How are you and your teams feeling now as you have started back to work this September?  Whether you’ve adopted a form of hybrid working, still are working virtually, and have people coming off furlough, what is the predominant mood of your employees, your organization, yourself?

In a keynote address I delivered in April at the ella 2021 annual conference (www.ella-forums.org)  about what our post pandemic futures might look like, I spoke about how many of us, and our organizations are languishing.In my keynote address at the ella 2021 conference in April on post pandemic futures, I spoke about how many of us, and our organizations are languishing.  I referred to the article in the New York Times written by organisational psychologist and author, Adam Grant, about how many of us are languishing during this extended pandemic season.  He refers to languishing as the neglected middle child of mental health.  It is neither full-blown anxiety nor depression, but a meh feeling where we’re lethargic and it is hard to get motivated to do anything. He has since done a daily podcast about languishing on the topic which I’ll link to at the end of this blog

Today, I want to talk a little bit about joy at work which I think is the antidote to languishing for ourselves and our organizations, regardless of what the Covid-19 status is, pre, mid or post pandemic.  As leaders, it is your responsibility to set the tone in your workplace, first as an example and, secondly, in shaping your organization’s culture.  Because we spend at least a third of our waking life at work, it is reasonable that we enjoy work, and that work should bring us a measure of happiness and joy.  As leaders of charities during Covid, how much joy at work are you experiencing?  How much are your employees enjoying work?

How do we create and experience joy?  What is it?  Why is it important?  How can we move from a meh work environment (at best), or a toxic one (at worst), to a culture that promotes joy and happiness for the employees that work there?

What is joy/happiness at work and why is it important?

Joy is a strong word.  Many business writers use the word happiness at work instead.  I prefer the word joy because it connotes a position of sheer wonder, awe and playfulness and childlikeness, in response to the world we’ve been born into and the life we’ve been given.

Joy is a perspective, an attitude, and a capacity and skill that we can develop independent of our situation and circumstances whereas I think the word happiness is more dependent on external circumstances and things going well. Pursuit of happiness is illusory; rather we snatch moments of happiness throughout the day, week, and months and it usually catches us off guard. It is something we discover and uncover in unexpected moments.  But, the articles refer to both, so I will refer to both in the resources at the end.

According to a Harvard Business Review article people “intrinsically seek joy. And joy connects people more powerfully than almost any other human experience.” (Lieu)

When I asked the question, what would contribute to joy at work in a recent Linked in post, the response was varied.  One person said variety at work and the chance to do and learn new things each day at work gives them joy, and another person said that they experience joy at work when they are in the flow with their work and/or team members.  A third person said it is the camaraderie they experience with their colleagues as they’re able to share and discuss both work and non-work-related things with good humour and a sense of fun.  All of these are ingredients for cultivating joy in your lives individually, in your teams, and in your organization. 

Why is it so important? 

Joy at work or happiness at work, is the mark of a flourishing organization.  There are a couple reasons why this is important.  First, from a practical standpoint, joyful employees are 9% more productive overall.  (Chowdhury)

They are healthier; more emotionally and mentally resilient which means spending less money on taking care of mentally and physically unwell employees.  There is less absenteeism and less presenteeism (showing up for work physically but not being engaged at all in what one’s doing), and higher employee engagement overall which results in less turnover.  Less turnover means investing less money in expensive HR recruitment.  The book, Dying for a Paycheck by Jeffrey Pfeiffer, provides scientific evidence for how unhealthy, languishing or toxic work environments, contribute to poor mental (anxiety and depression) and poor physical health (heart attacks, diabetes) and early death of its employees.  Caring for these employees is costly for the organization. 

Secondly and most importantly, it is the right thing to do, morally and ethically.  People are more than human resources, a cog in the machine. They are not one more impersonal element, like raw materials, financial capital, and technology. 

They are human beings who deserve dignity and respect in the workplace as much as in any other sphere of society.  Pfeiffer writes that “If we take seriously the fundamental sanctity and importance of human life and well being…there is a moral, ethical reason to be concerned about human health and well-being in the workplace…”  (Pfeiffer, p 8) Others note that human happiness in the workplace is part of the broader human right to health, which according to the World Health Organisation includes peoples’ psychological as well as  physical well-being. In other words, we have a duty of care to our employees and part of that is facilitating an environment where people can experience joy at work.

Finally, people who are experiencing joy rather than anger and fear, are working out of their frontal cortex rather than out of fear, which is based in their amygdala.  Working from a place of joy frees them up to be more creative and innovative.

Some of the ingredients for the recipe for creating joy at work

There are four elements I want to draw your attention to below that most writers agree need to be in place for people to experience joy at work.  They are some of the necessary ingredients as it were, if you were a master chef about to concoct a soup, called joy at work.  There are others, but these are the ones most business writers and consultants would agree are the most essential ones and are the ones that have the highest impact in creating joy at work.

  1. Meaning and purpose at work

People experience much more job satisfaction, happiness, and joy at work if they feel that they are doing work that has meaning, purpose and significance.  In fact, as we have seen, many people have changed careers and jobs during the pandemic because they want more meaningful work.   The pandemic brought up existential issues, i.e. life is short, so what is the meaning and purpose of my life and how can I personally make a significant contribution/difference to the world?  Individuals flourish to the extent they sense that they are working towards something meaningful; something that transcends their material day to day existence.

To what extent is your organization’s meaning and purpose clear?  To what extent is your own and your employees own personal sense of meaning and purpose in alignment with that of the organization?

2. Psychological and Physical Safety

To what extent do people feel safe at work physically and psychologically is central to whether people will be able to experience joy at work.

Physical safety during the Pandemic is a crucial issue.  Addressing employees’ physical concerns about their safety at work is paramount.  How you genuinely listen to and address these concerns, whether through virtual, hybrid, or full-time physical working in the office, will have a huge impact on morale.

Do you have plans in place for returning to work that are equitable and fair, that are sensitive to employees’ unique situation (health, home life, age) as well as to their fears and concerns?

Psychological safety is more about trust, and whether they feel safe with you and their colleagues at work. Unsafe psychological workplaces are ones in which employees are discriminated against or bullied for their differences.   Bullying is basically an abuse of power which includes sexual harassment and sexual abuse, racism, sexism, or other forms of bullying based on a person’s physical characteristics. 

What is your safeguarding and whistleblowing policies?  Do you have a no-tolerance for bullies’ culture?

It also means whether your employees talk to one another and to you and feel heard and listened to?

 Is your culture one where it is safe to fail or disagree? Or are disagreements and failures swept under the table, the ever-present elephant in the room.

3. Job autonomy

Job autonomy is one of the most critical elements for people to experience joy at work.  According to Pfeffer, having autonomy over one’s job, the ability to have freedom and choice as to how one exercises one’s role on a day-to-day basis, is more important to employees than additional pay.  Nothing is more dispiriting and disempowering than to be micro-managed and not be trusted to execute one’s job well. Autonomy also pertains to flexibility and choice in terms of work and hours, and the ability to suggest changes in the workplace that contribute to increased productivity and better working conditions.

How much choice with respect to flexibility in hours, work, location, performing one’s role and the ability to suggest improvements do your employees have?  Do they feel micro-managed or do they have a healthy level of job autonomy?

4.  Camaraderie or team cohesion

The importance of camaraderie and team cohesion were first mooted by the military.  How do troops fulfil difficult tasks in difficult circumstances?  The glue that holds them together, other than sharing a common purpose as discussed in item one, is their sense of community and their love, commitment, and sense of responsibility to show up and do their best for their fellow comrades in arms.  These units are so cohesive, that even years after a war ended, people will attend veterans’ reunions even up to 50 and 75 years later, to reminisce with their unit. 

At the moment we can see this in different parts of the NHS.  Despite the pressures and burn-out due to successive waves of Covid, part of the glue that holds many teams together, is the relationships that individuals have with their fellow health care workers deep in the Covid trenches.  People may be tired and now hate what they do, but they will show up to work because they don’t want to let their colleagues down.

People flourish best when they experience belonging in relationships with one another in different communities starting with our immediate family.  Our organisations are just one more community. Laughing, eating, celebrating birthdays, marriages, work milestones, and successes all help to build a sense of shared identity and community.

What are you currently doing to build a culture of community in your organization?  What more could you do to build healthy teams with positive relationships in your organization? 

None of the above is easy.  It takes conscious and consistent hard work and dedication to build organisational cultures where individuals can experience joy at work.  But given the implications for the health and wellbeing of the employees and for the organisation, it is something that cannot be neglected, especially in a time of this prolonged pandemic where people are languishing. In fact, we neglect them at the peril of our own health and the health of our organisations.

Below are some resources and references that might help you as you pursue joy at work.  I am also available either as a coach or organisational consultant to help you develop your own sense of joy at work and to help you to begin developing a concrete plan about how you can begin implementing the recipe, with your own special sauce and ingredients added, to create a culture where joy at work is the norm and not a dim and distant hope.

You can contact me at nkhogan@sophiatransformations.com

References and Resources:

Chowdhury, Mudhuleena Roy Happiness at Work: 10 Tips for How to be Happy at Work https://positivepsychology.com/happiness-at-work/

Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), Critical Components for Ensuring a Joyful, Engaged Workforce  Critical Components for Ensuring a Joyful, Engaged Workforce | IHI

Grant, Adam  In addition to the New York Times article from April, Grant has recently done a Daily TED talk podcast on languishing and how torestore flow https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9mZWVkczIuZmVlZGJ1cm5lci5jb20vdGVkdGFsa3NfYXVkaW8/episode/ZW4uYXVkaW8udGFsay50ZWQuY29tOjgwNjg2?hl=en-GB&ved=2ahUKEwimupfr2fTyAhWLT8AKHZo4DxsQjrkEegQIDhAL&ep=6

Greater Good at Berkely as a great resource for articles and ideas for creating joy at work.  Here’s a link to their article, “The four keys to happiness at work.” 

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/the_four_keys_to_happiness_at_work

Lieu, Jeff “Making Joy a Priority at Work,” Harvard Business Review  https://hbr.org/2019/07/making-joy-a-priority-at-work

Pfeffer, Jeffrey 2018 Dying for a Paycheck, Harpers Business

Stewart, Henry, The Happy Manifesto. You can download the Happy Manifesto for free at www.happy.co.uk.  It lists 10 components needed for a happy workforce.  Also, here’s the link to the guide below for 82 practical steps you can take in these 10 areas to create joy at work  https://www.happy.co.uk/media/1471/80-ideas-2018.pdf

Website that lists actions you can take to make your workplace more joyful  https://www.actionforhappiness.org

MEDITATION ON THE 20th ANNIVERSARY OF 9/11

Moving from fundamentalisms to flourishing

The twin towers

Everyone who was alive at the time remembers where they were on 9/11.  I vividly remember being in a grocery store in the UK and someone saying did you hear that two planes just flew into the Twin Towers in New York?  As an American in Britain at the time, I thought they were having a laugh.  It sounded like a plot for a bad science fiction movie.  Nonetheless, I quickly paid for my groceries to run home and turn on the news in time to see both of the towers collapse live on television.  I knew from that moment on the world had changed forever and not for the good.

It is ironic that 9/11 coincided with my embarking on a master’s degree to study how better to promote human flourishing and how best to transform our own lives and the lives of others in ethical and sustainable ways.  I wanted to learn how better to tackle the injustices I was seeing, particularly those perpetuated against women and girls.  As a humanitarian aid worker who spent a decade promoting the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Cambodia, and then as the co-founder of an international centre for justice and reconciliation for an international nongovernmental organisation (INGO) where we advocated on behalf of the rights of women and girls, I wanted to better understand how religion and culture can work to promote violence or how elements of them could work to promote peace.   

The Twin Towers were destroyed days before I embarked on my M.A. studies in religion, gender, and culture in the Department of Religions and Theologies at the University of Manchester in the UK where I was going to study what it meant to flourish and how to better promote flourishing in the face of intractable conflict, and incompatible religions and cultures. 

9/11 and the War on Terror in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in our own countries, launched me on a twenty-year journey so far.: first to study the characteristics of fundamentalisms of all kinds that sow destruction and conflict and that perpetuate and sustain injustices.; and then secondly, to reflect deeply and study how to best counteract fundamentalisms through developing a mindset that is characterized by love and flourishing. 

My question for the past 20 years has been what does it mean for individuals and humans to flourish?  How can we create the conditions for human flourishing, i.e. develop and nurture the seeds and capacities for flourishing, rather than to mindlessly and constantly water the seeds of destructive fundamentalisms that perpetuate injustices against different groups of humanity?

All fundamentalisms share several elements in common.  Here I want to focus on the main one, the one that drives all the others.  Whether they are fundamentalist religious or secular isms/ideologies, what all fundamentalisms have in common is that they use violence, whether through violent words or actual physical violence, to deny the humanity of their enemies.  They use whatever power and resources they have at their disposal to demonize and dehumanize people that they determine are their sworn enemies. 

Remember George W. Bush who said after 9/11 if you’re not for us you’re not with us.  It is that kind of thinking.  It is a strategy of dividing and separating people from one another and launching crusades whether it’s through bombs or cancel culture against those who are deemed to be subhuman, those who it is now okay to destroy or to cancel because they’re really not human like we are.

The beginning of promoting flourishing is to recognize the humanity and dignity of each person born into the world.  Although we are from different cultures, religions, ethnicities, genders, sexual preferences, dis/abilities, etc., we are one human race.  To begin to flourish is to reflect and meditate deeply on this truth.

What does it mean that Afghans are human, that Iraqis are human, that trans people are human, that asylum seekers and immigrants are first and foremost human beings?  As Jesus asked the Samaritan in the Parable of the Good Neighbour, who is your neighbour?  They are people who like us, are mothers, brothers, sisters, children, grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, and uncles.  They share similar aspirations to ours.  They want to eat, work, play and sleep in peace.  They want a better future for their children and their children’s children.

 I saw the mindset of flourishing powerfully illustrated in 2005-2006 when I interviewed peace builders in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict from every walk of Israeli and Palestinian society, religious or not for my PhD dissertation.  Unanimously what transformed them from promoting war and violence to peace was the blinding recognition that their opponents were human beings just like them, and the inescapable recognition that they shared the same aspirations as their sworn enemies for a better world for their children, their children’s children and their children’s children’s children.

So, this 9/11 instead of cancelling people, whomever we might be tempted to cancel, maybe we are better off spending the day meditating more deeply on what connects us rather than what divides us?  Let’s start being the light we want to see in the darkness we see in the world right now.  It starts here with you, with me, with each one of us.

Finally, if you’re interested in learning more about my teaching, training, coaching, mentoring, workshops, webinars and 3-6 month masterclasses on how we can practically move from fundamentalisms to flourishing in our own lives to promoting it through constructive engagement in the world, don’t hesitate to email me at nkhogan@sophiatransformations.com.

What does it mean to be Pro-life?

To be pro-social is to care about the common good, not just one’s individual rights. To be pro-life and pro-social is to recognize that human rights come with human responsibilities.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE PRO-LIFE?

I am very taken with the idea, raised by a person on twitter, about the need for the Democrats and the progressive coalition that supports Biden/Harris, to reclaim and redefine the term ‘pro-life’.  This is not meant as a personal attack on any one person in my Facebook feed or on Twitter.  In fact, it is not meant as an attack at all.  It is meant to question, probe, and explore.  I invite you to explore with me.

Rather it is an attempt to reclaim and redefine what it means to be pro-life.  Language matters. 

I am cross that the term pro-life has been co-opted by a group of Conservative American Republicans to mean to be pro-life is only to be against abortion and to be against gay marriage.  And given that, it is rich to claim that all Democrats or all left-wing progressives are not pro-life.  To the extent anyone champions the widows, the orphans, the aliens in our midst, the oppressed and the downtrodden and seek to encourage and help them to flourish, they are pro-life. 

The right-wing Conservative Evangelicals who are anti-abortion have co-opted this term for themselves and we ‘Democrats’ and ‘Progressives’, us ‘libs’, have done little or nothing to challenge it.  Do they really represent what it is to be pro-life in all its aspects?  Some conservatives will say oh I’m pro-life in every aspect, but then vote as if the abortion issue is the only thing that matters, no matter how nefarious the Anti-Abortion movement’s tactics are, no matter how corrupt or lacking in character their champion, Trump, is. 

I have an issue with that.  To me pro-life means:

Character matters

Character matters in our elected officials no matter which party they represent.  Corruption, lying and cheating, stealing, dividing, and supporting white supremacists, is not being pro-life. The bible talks about this a lot.  Read the major and minor Prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, Micah and see what they consider to constitute justice and injustice and how God feels about it.  Warning:  It makes him/her angry!  Read Amos 5.

Refugees, asylum seekers and refugees all matter.

Separating children from parents and putting them in cages is not pro-life.  Caring for refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants is pro-life. 

The elderly matter. 

How is it that it’s okay to sacrifice seniors to the Covid-19 Pandemic?  Wearing masks is pro-life.  Caring for the elderly is pro-life.  Loving one’s neighbor enough to social distance, wear a mask and not expose people unnecessarily to Covid even though you might not get it or be symptomatic is to be pro-life and to be pro-social.

To be pro-social is to care about the common good, not just one’s individual rights. To be pro-life and pro-social is to recognize that human rights come with human responsibilities.

Women and girls matter

Discrimination based on sex is wrong and is anti-life.  Caring for women and girls and their health and well being is pro-life.  Ending all forms of violence against women and girls is pro-life.  Democrats campaign to do this.  Hilary Clinton was instrumental at the Beijing Women’s Conference in 1995 to campaign on this.  She and the US government at the time were instrumental in promoting and ratifying the Beijing Platform for Action.  This is pro-life.

For example, campaigning against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is to be pro-life. Democrats would agree that this is a problem and campaign against this.  Therefore, they express pro-life and prosocial values.

Similarly, campaigning against the trafficking of women and girls for the purposes of sexual exploitation is pro-life.  Democrats are against the sexual exploitation of women and girls.  Therefore, they are pro-life.

Black and brown lives matter

Racism is anti-life.  Democrats championing the end of racism and discrimination against Black Americans is pro-life and pro-social. Championing white supremacists and white terrorist groups like the Proud Boys is anti-life and anti-social.

Therefore, I am going to publishing examples, pictures and stories, of what might be considered prolife and what might not be over the coming days.  I am going to reclaim what it means to be prolife.  Feel free to publish your own stories and examples.

BLACK LIVES MATTER

The militarization of the police in the United States and elsewhere is a problem.  I have never witnessed scenes like the ones referenced in this Washington Post article in the United States to this extent before and it is alarming.  These scenes do not belong in a healthy mature democracy.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/media/journalists-at-several-protests-were-injured-arrested-by-police-while-trying-to-cover-the-story/2020/05/31/bfbc322a-a342-11ea-b619-3f9133bbb482_story.html

 It is more reminiscent of when I was traveling through Israel and Palestine in 2006 as Israel was erecting the wall between Israel and Palestine.  International protesters, Palestinians, and media, witnessing and protesting the Separation Wall between the two countries, were regularly fired upon by Israeli Military with rubber bullets, tear gas canisters and even on some occasions, real bullets. And I hear recently that Israel has been involved in training American police so that really makes me wonder what kind of model we are importing.  As voters and citizens, we must challenge this model of policing.  It is anti-democratic and authoritarian in nature.  It is the abuse of power of the strong and powerful against a less powerful and marginalized people.

Let me say that I do not hate the police and I do not see them as one homogenous group of evil, bad guys.  I have worked for the police here in the UK.  Nor do I see the protestors as one homogenous group of good guys.  The reality is far more complex.  However, what dismays me is the examples of recent unprovoked attacks around the USA by the police on unarmed protestors and different members of the media.  The police were never meant to become a paramilitary body.  They derive their power to police from the consent of those whom they police.  And when excess force like this is deemed necessary, we need to ask why and by whom and for what purpose. 

The power of policing comes from the common consent of the public, not from using paramilitary techniques against unarmed protesters.

I worked for the UK police force in Bedfordshire for almost two years.  It gave me a unique insight into policing and a tremendous respect for the difficult job that the police do.  It is a hard, demanding, and difficult job.  I learned that most police are in it to make a difference in the world.  They view it as a vocation.  Most police  care and they want to catch the bad guys and to protect the public.  In the UK, they subscribe to the Peelian principles of consent.  Sir Robert Peel, the Home Secretary, in 1822 and 1829, was responsible for establishing the first full-time professional and centrally-organized police force in England and Wales.  From the Crime Prevention wwebsite below 

“The reforms introduced by Sir Robert Peel and the first Police Commissioners were based on a philosophy that the power of the police comes from the common consent of the public, as opposed to the power of the state.

The nine principles that underpin this philosophy were set out in the ‘General Instructions’ issued to every new police officer from 1829 onwards. The principles are still valid today and have shaped the approach that HMIC takes when assessing how well police forces are working for the public.

These principles are:

The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder

The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions

Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public

The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force

Police seek and preserve public favour not by pandering to public opinion but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law

Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient

Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence

Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary

The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.  “  https://thecrimepreventionwebsite.com/police-crime-prevention-service—a-short-history/744/the-peelian-principles/:

BLACK LIVES MATTER

So, I get it that blue lives matter.  They do and I appreciate and care for the individual police, men and women, that I know personally.  Black lives matter too, and we need to recognize the specificity of the circumstances and context in which these lives take place.  It is not symmetrical. There is an asymmetry in the balance of power and access to power between black people and the police.   Black people do not have as much power or might at their disposal as the blue lives who are armed to the back teeth.  The police have far more power and therefore, have a far greater responsibility for how they wield it.  They are meant to be public servants, not authoritarian enforcers.  They are only effective to the extent that they have the consent of the policed.  And that consent is rapidly wearing thin.  Trust has been broken in the US by its police forces in too many instances.  And the answer is not to pump up the volume and violence as many forces around the country have.

Take a knee instead……

Rather, policing is to take a leaf out of the book from the Sheriff in Flint Michigan who marched along with the protesters, it is the example of the police who took a knee in sympathy with the protesters.

When police continue to indiscriminately kill black men, boys, women and girls, again and again, protest is warranted.  The brutal public murder of George Floyd by one policeman as three others  watched, was unwarranted and unconscionable.  People are rightly angry.  The man’s dying words were, “I can’t breathe.”  Black people cannot breathe.  Things cannot continue as they are.

It is beyond time to stop police brutality against black men and women and children and to call it out for what it is—racist to the core.  It throws up into stark relief how the American system is racist and is skewed in favour of white lives, not black lives.  Have you white people ever had to give your children the ‘talk’?   Every black child gets the talk about how to be invisible to the police, to be polite and not make waves so that they do not call undo attention to themselves.  But still they get shot for jogging innocently through neighbourhoods.

BLACK LIVES MATTER full stop. 

We all have a responsibility to protect, nourish, and cherish human lives

And the police need to get a grip and we as Americans need to get a grip on our police.  It is our responsibility to ask questions, to call them out and ask why militarizing the police is a necessary tactic.  We need to question our government and our leaders and ask why the police around the country are being militarized. We need to question whose interests does this really serve?  And we need to recognize this undue force will likely be used against us as well one day. It’s already being used against the media and protesters.  What about our first amendment rights of free speech.  Not even one of us is immune from these authoritarian abuses of power.  And why, for God’s sake why do we care more about property and protecting property than we care about protecting, nourishing and cherishing human lives? 

Mass shootings: Moving from a politics of hate to a politics of love

Last weekend, in the space of less than 24 hours there were two mass shootings, one in El Paso, Texas where the current death toll is 23, and one in Dayton, Ohio, where the current death toll is nine.  Only a week before,  three people were massacred in a mass shooting at the garlic festival in Gilroy, California. 

Until now, I have not known what to say.  Pundits have filled the airwaves with all kinds of rationales and have cast blame in many different directions.  I’m not here to rehash these arguments as important as they are to the political debate that we need to conduct as a nation to keep these massacres from reoccurring.  We do need to examine the complex factors that contribute to these issues.

What I have been wrestling with is how do we shift the debate from a politics of hate and fear to a politics of love and hope?  Love seems like a rather feeble, namby pamby, unrealistic and idealistic response in the face of such pain and suffering.  What does tough, meaty, transformative love look like in such horrible circumstances? 

So often the immediate comment by those in power is it’s too soon to comment and there are pleas not to politicize these deaths.  These shootings are already political the moment they occur.  They take place in the public space.  What we do and say about them, how we seek to end them, is political. 

Who has the guns, why they have access to guns, why they think it’s acceptable to act on their hatred and fear and shoot human beings is a political issue.  They may might feel dis-empowered for what ever reason and by taking up an assault rifle they feel powerful, they feel like their lives have meaning because they can make a splash in the world, they become famous.  For some, like the El Paso shooter, they’re part of the larger cause of white supremacy and white nationalism which may create a sense of belonging and meaning .  They have the power of God, the power to take a life.   Why do they take such power upon themselves?

Whatever the reason, there is NO justification for taking the lives of one’s fellow human beings.  Any ideology or religion predicated in violence and hate, is destructive.  Islamic fundamentalism that glorifies killing the infidels as well as white nationalism that glorifies whites and advocates the destruction, rhetorical or actual of people who are not white, are two sides of the same coin.

Does love overlook and excuse the injustice?  No, it does not.  We have such a misconception of love in our culture.  Love without action, without critical reflection, without  making moral judgments about who has power and who doesn’t, without stopping people from continuing to abuse power,  love without recognizing that we are all human beings deserving of life, dignity, a future, a hope, and respect, is not love. 

Loving others who are not like us and who aren’t part of our natural community is hard.  It is costly.  Hating is easy and the cheap way out.  There is no excuse.  Others have suffered the way these shooters have suffered and they have not taken up guns and killed others.  These shooters must be judged, punished and stopped.  End of story.

Love means living in community with people who are not like us, who do not look like us, who are different.  This is actually a very hard thing to do.  Love means working for the flourishing of all, not just the few.  Love may mean giving up your position of power and privilege and sense of entitlement so that others can also thrive and flourish.

A politics of love means loving one’s neighbor, a politics of love means becoming involved, a politics of love means not being silent, a politics of love means thinking critically about greed, hate, the abuse of power and privilege.  It is part of what it means to be human.

Spiritual piety, thoughts and prayers, without actions and deeds to address the social injustice of these mass killings, whether one is a secular humanist or a devout christian, is not love.  Faith without works, as the good book says, is dead.  Any kind of spirituality that focuses only on the individual and individual piety at the expense of our social responsibility to our communities, our nation, and to the world in which we live, is dead. 

We kid ourselves if we think we can survive in this world outside of  our relationships with family, community, friends, nation and the world. We are born, dependent, into webs of relationships.  We are social beings.  We cannot survive on our own.  We need each other. We have a responsibility to one another as well as to the well-being of the planet in which we live.

This kind of false piety is individualistic and narcissistic.  It is the lifeboat mentality that as long as me and mine are okay then that’s good enough.  Part of what it means to thrive and flourish is to love others as we love ourselves.  If one person suffers, we all suffer.  We should all be suffering with the communities and families that have lost loved ones in these shootings.  We should be suffering with all of those who have lost people in mass shootings before that.  Put yourself in the shoes of a family who has lost mother, father, grandparents, child?  What would you do if you lost one of your dearest?  

As human beings we are interconnected.  We are born into communities.  We have a social responsibility to one another.  When asked are we are brother’s and sister’s keepers, the answer is yes.  What does it mean to love our neighbor really?  And who is our neighbor?  In the parable of the Good Samaritan in the bible, the Samaritan, the despised, marginalized, the ‘black/brown’ person of the day, showed compassion for the suffering of the person beat up on the road.  The supposedly holy ones just walked on by.

Are we going to walk on by and say nothing to see here in the face of the largest mass shooting of Latinix?  Are we going to be silent or just merely offer them our thoughts and prayers?  If one person suffers, we all suffer.   We all need to examine our hearts and think about what action each one of us is going to take to stop this?   And to ask, what is my own role in all of this?  Am I contributing to the problem or to the solution?  Note that to be silent is to be complicit.  As the saying goes, evil flourishes when good people do nothing.

One thing each one of us can do is recognize, mourn and celebrate each individual who’s life was taken.  Let’s focus on their stories, their contributions, the love they shared with family, friends and their communities.  Let’s take time to see them, to acknowledge them and their lives. 

Every human being that has lived and ever will live is unique and has their own story to tell, a story that fills the story book of humankind (Hannah Arendt).  Each beautiful photograph and obituary of the ones who perished in these tragedies is a life to be mourned and to be celebrated.  Hate would seek to dehumanize them, to wipe out their existence, to say they were unworthy of existence.  Hate seeks to make them invisible so let’s make them visible.  Let us make monuments of art, literature and song in their memories.   Let’s celebrate their achievements, their families. 

Here are some links to the stories of the El Paso victims to start  https://www.npr.org/2019/08/06/748527564/stories-of-el-paso-shooting-victims-show-acts-of-self-sacrifice-amid-massacre?t=1565261219262

https://www.insider.com/el-paso-shooting-victims-walmart-2019-8

Here is a link to the stories and photos of the Dayton victims:

Here is a link to the stories and photos of the Gilroy victims

https://eu.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/07/29/gilroy-garlic-festival-shooting-victims-identified-california-gavin-newsom/1862980001/

Christmas Meditation: It is a wonderful life

 

It’s a Wonderful Life is a classic Christmas movie.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched it over the decades.  The first time I remember watching it was as a teenager.

The message is simple yet profound—how would the world have been different if George Bailey committed suicide in the face of potential financial ruin?  It’s a question we all might ask ourselves.  How would the world be different if we hadn’t been born or, in another twist, if we had not lived up to our full potential?  The lesson from the film is that the world would be all the much a poorer and darker place if we had not existed and if we’d not lived well.

To be honest, I haven’t watched it in recent years.  Its message has been too painful for me to bear.  I felt like I’d lost my way and wasn’t doing much to make a difference in the world around me.  A very long story, but the bottom line was I really wasn’t sure how to spend the last phase of my career, what my legacy would look like and or how to leave a legacy that was authentically what I had to give to the world.

The past year, however, has been one where I have intentionally sought to uncover and strengthen my voice, to find out what I had to uniquely contribute and offer to the world.   To explore what is it that only I can do and say given my passions, experiences, strengths and talents.  It has been a year of growth as I write my book, write blogs, develop my own coaching and consultancy business and work for Thrive Worldwide, a start up company that provides health and well-being services to humanitarian aid workers and missionaries, one day a week as the Director for Research and Impact.

My main task for Thrive this year has been to write a definition of what it means to thrive and flourish.  This overlaps with the book that I am writing about flourishing, which includes a politics of love and hope where what it means to flourish is to be active in the world, making a difference, loving one’s neighbors as oneself, whomever and wherever they might be.  Human beings of all different religions, genders, sexual preferences, nationalities, ethnicities, ages and social classes, are our neighbors.  We all are human beings, unique, worthy of dignity and respect.  There is only one of each of us, which makes us individually unique and diverse, yet we share our universal common humanity.

This humanity flies in the face of the inhumanity that we see so often on the news.  The hate that pits us against them, the hate that robs refugees and asylum seekers of their humanity, that robs people that are a different race than us of their human dignity as they suffer violence and discrimination because of the color of their skin.  All human beings long to have a future and a hope and long to have a better future for their children and children’s children to grow up in.  Yet, on both sides of the Pond, our politics are deadlocked and full of hate and fear for those who are different to us.

It may be that you’ve had series of set-backs, you have bitter regrets about having wasted your life or large swathes of it until now.  One of the central messages of Christmas, regardless of whether you are Christian, atheist, secularist or whether you ascribe to a different religion, is that there’s always hope, there’s always a new day, a new opportunity to turn your life around, to make a difference, to matter, to love, to be part of a community.  Christmas is about having hope amid darkness, about having meaning and significance in the world, even a world that is torn apart by hate, division, injustice and poverty.

Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, another Christmas classic, captures this sentiment as well.  Towards the end of his life, Scrooge is granted one more opportunity to turn his life. He has chosen work and money at the expense of family, friends and community.  He is alone and even though he doesn’t realize it in the moment, he is isolated, lonely and bereft. He’s been given the gift of a visitation of three spirits, the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present and the Ghost of Christmas Future.

Christmas provides an opportunity for reflection.  How are our lives going?  Where are we at with our friends and family, our community?  Scrooge wasn’t called to some big task, although some of us might be.  He was called to love and be generous to the family and friends he’d neglected over the years in pursuit of financial gain.  He came to the realization that money and material gain, status, and power were immaterial if he ended up alone and isolated from those around him.  He was called to love through action, through generosity and compassion.

Are you lonely and isolated?  Where are your potential communities?  How can you reach out and love well?  How can you be a light in the darkness, a beacon of hope in the darkness of the inhumanity that surrounds us.  It only takes one candle to dent the darkness.  Imagine you were given the gift Scrooge was, of his ghostly visitations.  What is the ghost of Christmas past, present and future saying to you?  What is your ‘onlyness’ in this world—-the thing only you can bring, that thing that if you don’t bring means the world, like in It’s a Wonderful Life, will be a darker place?  It can be anything—nothing is too small or insignificant.  What will be your next act of love?

Demystifying Activism

THE DEMYSTIFYING ACTIVISM COURSE IS STARTING ON WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 31st. SIGN UP NOW AND QUALIFY FOR THE EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT

THE COURSE WILL MEET FOR THREE ONE HOUR SESSIONS ON ZOOM FOR THREE CONSECUTIVE WEDNESDAYS

See below for details regarding dates, times and cost for the pilot course. Come join me and and be part of the conversation! Those who join the pilot course will save 50% over the regular price. If you sign up by Friday, October 19th, you can save almost 75% of the regular price for the course.

Also, if you can’t make the initial dates, let me know as I will be offering this course on a regular basis going forward as I hope to start many group conversations about how we can make a difference in the age of Trump. How can we respond in love and not fear, to be proactive and not reactive?

Do you want to make a difference in the world but demonstrating, phoning your congressman and posting angry posts on social media is not your thing? Or if it is your thing, maybe you want to
learn how to do it in a way that has greater impact?

Maybe you are an introvert or maybe you’re an artist or a musician who isn’t into demonstrating or joining protest marches, but you are upset about injustice and want to do something concrete about it.

To demystify activism, I am going to be hosting three one-hour live seminars on Zoom (an internet video conference system) that will help you discover what you personally can do to find your voice and to make a difference. By the end of the course, you will be able to confidently take an action of your choice on some issue that concerns you.

If you’re wondering if this course is for you read below and see if any of the following apply to you:

Are you frustrated or even angry about the state of the world today? It’s natural and okay to be angry by the way. It means you have a heart and can feel. Anger motivates us to do something about injustice. We’d be less than human if we didn’t sometimes get really angry about injustice.

Or maybe you are numb or depressed or despondent about the state of American politics where political debates regularly pit us against them, i.e. left against right, women against men, white people against black and brown people, Democrats against Republicans, gun control advocates against gun control opponents? Debates which result in the dehumanisation of whole swathes of people based on gender, ethnicity or immigration status? Do you long to create a space in the conversation where the dignity of all human beings is respected and heard?

For example, did the Kavanaugh/Ford hearings trigger your own memories of being sexually harassed or abused and cause you to wish you could able to transform your pain into meaningful and lasting change? Are you interested in the #metoo movement or the #blacklivesmatter movement? Or maybe you’re upset about the persistent inequality of women in business, politics, the church or in whatever organised religion you practice, or the inequality of women more generally? Or perhaps you’re concerned about climate change and want to learn how to do something practical to address it?

Do you long to make a difference in the world but you don’t know how? Do you feel paralysed because there are too many problems and you don’t know where to start? Do you ask yourself who am I anyway to even try as I work full time or I’m a stay-at-home mom, or I live in a tiny rural community and there is no way l can make an impact in the world?

Do you feel silenced and that as a result, your voice doesn’t matter? Are you longing to find your voice and learn how to use it to speak out about a specific situation of injustice which is really bothering you and maybe keeping you awake at nights?

If any of the above apply to you, this course is for you! There is hope! Be encouraged that you can make a difference just by being you. Yes, really! Little ole you and me have been given all we need inside of us to make a difference.

In all your wonderfulness of who you are, the gifts, experiences, talents and your ‘youness’, you have what it takes to make a difference in this world. It is possible, and not only possible, but very exciting and even potentially life changing, to discover the ways in which your life can have more meaning and significance on this planet.

No talents or gifts are too small or too insignificant. Please come join me and others as I practically show you how and where you can make a difference. All you need to participate is access to a computer and an internet connection. The course will be very interactive and conversational with like-minded people.

If you are interested, messenger me on Facebook or email me at nkhogan60@gmail.com and let me know.

The dates and times for the first course are:

Wednesday, October 31, 2018 at 11 a.m. EDT 
Wednesday November 7, 2018 at 11 a.m. EST
Wednesday, November 14, 2018 at 11 a.m. EST

NB:   These times are all for the East Coast of the United States. Please note that clocks go back in the US on November 4, 2018 which will not impact the timing of the course in the United States. If you are in other time zones in the US or elsewhere, let me know and I can help you figure out what time the course will be for you.

Also, here is a link to a handy tool to calculate time differences where you are.  http://www.worldtimebuddy.com

For example, for the UK the course will tale place on these Wednesdays at 3 pm on the 31st of October and then at 4 pm the following two weeks. (The clocks go back one week earlier in the UK and Europe)

COST: $79.99

Please note that the price for this course is normally $150, but as this is the pilot course, I’m offering it at a discount in exchange for feedback. Come and be part of shaping this course going forward!

Sign up for the early bird discount. If you sign up and pay by Friday evening EDT, save 25% and pay only $60 for a total savings of almost 75% over the initial price.

To sign up, email me or messenger me and I will tell you how you can pay and register using PayPal. When you sign up, I will send you the course outline and initial pre-course assignment. Don’t worry, it’s fun and will prepare you for our time together.

Also, if you have more questions about the course or want to invite others to attend, let me know. Message me or mail me at nkhogan60@gmail.com

After Kavanaugh: Where do we go from here?

 

After Kavanaugh, where do we go from here?  Do we give up?  Is despair an option, do we hide, do we self medicate with alcohol?  Do we fight?  If we fight, how?

The Kavanaugh—Christine Blasey Ford hearing and aftermath have been much debated, and lots has been written about what happened by those on both sides.   The purpose of this blog is not to rehash these debates.  The final straw for many, myself included, was when, at a political rally,  the President of the United States openly mocked Blasey Ford and her painful story about being sexually assaulted.  He egged his supporters on too who also laughed.  The cruelty of their laughter, especially after she shared in her testimony when asked what the thing she remembered the most from her assault, was the laughter of her alleged assailants, Brett Kavanaugh and Mark Judge, is crazy-making.  What has happened to empathy in today’s political discourse?   How is this even remotely okay?  What kind of society is President Trump building if this is the fruit?

And people, women especially, are understandably angry at this confirmation process and the utter lack of regard, understanding, compassion and measured speech towards a woman who had nothing to gain and everything to lose by coming forward; and who was forced to come forward because someone (no one knows for sure who yet) leaked the private letter she sent to Senator Dianne Feinstein.

Anger is an important and necessary emotion because it compels us to act as long as we don’t let it turn inward into despair, depression and bitterness. So what do we do with the rage we’re feeling?  Allowing ourselves to become numb to the incessant eroding of American democracy and civil discourse is not an option either.

The question now becomes how do we channel this anger into political action?  The Republicans fought a 40-year battle to get a majority of conservatives on the Supreme Court so that they could overturn Roe V. Wade and with Kavanaugh’s ascension to the Supreme Court, and they won this battle.  What will our 40-year battle be for those who disagree with the vision of America that the Republicans have shown us by their actions.  A vision that is all about keeping and maintaining white male privilege–remember all the Republican Senators on the Judiciary were elderly white men.  And such narrow vision that it excludes minorities and women from power or from contributing to the political discourse.  A vision that viewed a woman who was a victim of sexual assault as an obstacle to be run over rather than a precious human being whose story must be heard and considered in a respectful manner.  A vision that required winning at any cost where the ends seemed to justify any and all means to the point that this confirmation hearing was rushed through without thorough vetting of the candidate, a candidate who during the final hearing was at turns angry, belligerent and disrespectful to the senators, especially the female ones who questioned him.

What about a vision for an inclusive multicultural society?  What vision would inspire you to work hard at it for 40 years come hell or high water until it was achieved?  What would a vision of hope and love look like?  How can we work to create a fairer, more just world that extends genuine equality to women and to minorities?

How can we do politics differently?  What is a positive vision of human flourishing that we’d like to see 40 years from now.  Can we articulate it?  Can we begin to articulate and write it down?  What does that feel like?  How do we feel once we’ve achieved our vision of diversity?  What is worth our working in love and hope for 40 years look like?  What vision would inspire us and our better angels?  Martin Luther King’s I have a dream speech is one image.  What are others?  Can you write your own I have a dream speech about justice and equality being extended to every segment of the population regardless of gender, nationality, ethnicity, race, religion, class, age, sexual preference, sex or dis/ability?  Write that out.  What inspires you?  What lifts your heart?  What feelings are you feeling as you write out this vision.

Then, how do we shift the debate and not debate on their terms which require us to dehumanise the opposition.  Let’s lift the vision higher.  What would a politics of love and abundance look like rather than a politics of hate and fear, a politics where people on any and all sides are viewed as human beings that have dignity and worth and whose viewpoints are worth listening to and respecting?  We fall into a politics of fear and hate when we debate them on their terms, when we get sucked into the angry back and forth of he said she said and when we begin to fall into the trap of dehumanising and demonizing our opponents.  It’s okay to be angry.  Anger is an important part of our motivation because injustice sucks and it is right to be angry about injustice.  But how can we use our imagination and intelligence to think and act differently?

In two weeks’, I will be hosting three one-hour sessions to begin this conversation, entitled “Demystifying Activism.”  Come join myself and others and begin to learn how you can make a difference.  Learn how you can use your voice, your experiences and your talents to make a positive difference in this world doing things that you love.

To be an activist, you don’t have to fit any specific mould except your own. Voting and marching are important but there are other things people can do.   Come as YOU are and join other like-minded people who are also mad and don’t know what to do or how to do it.  By the end of the three sessions, you will be able to pick one issue to focus on and have decide one concrete action you can take to make a difference on that specific issue.

Come find out what your role is.  Don’t slide back into numbness, despair, or apathy.  There is only one you.  Come find out how you can do something that suits who you are.   If you are interested in more details write me at nkhogan@sophiatransformations.com

 

SOPHIA TRANSFORMATIONS: A CONSULTANCY WITH A DIFFERENCE

INTRODUCTION TO SOPHIA TRANSFORMATIONS 

 

Sophia Transformations looks at how best to facilitate social change and social transformation.   This involves a world view shift from the dualistic one we have now which separates body, mind and spirit, to a more holistic one that integrates body, mind and spirit.  Shifting our world world view includes developing a better understanding of what it means to be a human being, what it means to promote human flourishing or well-being for all people irrespective of their religion, gender, nationality, ethnicity, dis/ability, economic class, age and sexual orientation and which takes these identities and their intersections into account.

For example, one person could be a middle aged black disabled female professional. What does flourishing look like for her and how does all her different identities shape and continue to shape her given that our identities are never fixed, but are constantly in flux? This view of human nature assumes human beings are unique in that each individual is unique, but that we all have our humanity in common. Each person has a unique story and unique purpose and contribution to make to this world. Each person can become, grow and flourish.

Shifting our worldview includes developing a different perspective on what constitutes God, divinity, or the Transcendent in each community. Even those who don’t believe in God have a spiritual perspective and what constitutes divinity in a community is what constitutes those people and things which have the highest value in that community. Don’t worry, I will be unpacking this further in future blogs. It’s what some refer to as spiritual capital. However, I really don’t like this term as it monetises the most important thing to human beings, that which is beyond themselves which they can’t explain. Some refer to it as serendipity and others refer to it as the fifth dimension. It is something mysterious and inexplicable. You might also call it a sense of wonder.

Finally, the world view or philosophy under which ST operates and hopes to impart, is a view of time which I call spacetime. I will unpack this as well. But it means the past and future are active in the present. Interpretations of the past shape our stories and narratives of who we are individually and who we are collectively. These interpretations of the past can block future wellbeing or they can promote future flourishing. Often these narratives, these stories we tell about the past, need to be reframed. This is nothing new. Considering new experiences, we are constantly reinterpreting our past in order to account how we our identities are changing and growing.

Throughout in all consulting to charities, businesses and the public sector, ST will emphasize the importance of moral imagination and how to develop moral intelligence to address complex and difficult social issues. Some people are born with moral intelligence but it can be developed. In future blogs on this site and on my website, I will unpack what I mean by moral imagination and moral intelligence. For now, I will define moral imagination as the ability to think differently and creatively in each unique context (communities including local, national and international) about solutions that respect the dignity and rights of all human beings. Moral intelligence involves the ability to think flexibly and creatively in each situation about injustice and how best to provide moral and ethical solutions to these issues.

ST is  a bridge. It bridges academia and activism and bridges the private, public and charitable sectors. Activists birth new understandings of solutions to problems and of society that academics need as part of reshaping their theories. Similarly, academics formulate new theories that need to be tested and tried in the world. Academics think new thoughts about institutions and new prototypes and models need to be developed to test them. Academics inform activists and activists inform academia. ST bridges the knowledges of both by researching and bringing the knowledge of both to each side of the bridge.

All three sectors, public, private and charitable, can collaborate together to solve today’s complex social issues as each sector has their own strengths and perspectives they can bring to bear on these issues.   However, no one sector can solve these issues on their own.  They are too complex.

ST will therefore serve as a bridge for knowledges and best practices developed by business and bring it into the Third Sector and vice versa. ST will help charities adopt best business practices from the private sector. Similarly, ST will help businesses find which charities and nongovernmental organisations to invest in. ST also seeks to help businesses develop new business models that address different aspects of human flourishing whilst still making a profit. ST hopes to provide resources and models to help charities and businesses imagine and create new models of working together more effectively and more holistically. I will be blogging about how this might happen and possible models how to work more holistically and better together in future blogs.

ST plans to bridge the business sector and the third sector (charities and nongovernmental organisations) together with the public sector. Government policies need to be better informed by the knowledges developed in the business and third sector. I will be writing blogs about how these three sectors intersect and how their unique perspectives and understandings can better influence and inform one another for the transformation of communities at all levels.

Finally, ST will provide resources to do this around the priorities listed in the third column of the diagram. These priorities include:

  1. Developing integrated philosophy of social transformation that includes perspectives from the intersections of the margins
  2. Mainstreaming gender, race, ethnicity, sexual preferences, dis/ability, and nationality
  3. Furthering partnerships with stakeholders in your own sphere of influence and activity
  4. Furthering partnerships with public, private and third sector organisations on social issues of common concern, a systems approach to promote change
  5. Developing an external communications and advocacy strategy to influence the political environments in which we work

These resources include in-depth research to help the sectors better understand the social, political, economic, national and international context in which they operate; the unique challenges and opportunities they face. ST will help to turn this research into strategies that takes these contexts into account. ST will assist and provide resources to enable with their strategic planning that take the public and private sector into account. ST will help the public and business sector organizations with their relationships with and understanding of the perspectives and knowledges gleaned in the charitable sector.

Other resources include assistance with developing business and project plans. ST can develop these plans or help existing staff through consultation and training to develop these plans. ST also aids charities with their governance and compliance issues including the development and/or critique of strategic and operational risk registers.

Finally, ST offers strategic planning and training around public policy and advocacy so they can more effectively influence government public policy at the local, national and international levels. For example, ST can train staff in human rights advocacy.

That’s all for now, but stay tuned as I write blogs that develop and explain each aspect of Sophia Transformation’s business model and what it has to offer to your charity, business or public sector organisation