The pessimist's guide to a hopeful future
By Chris Kenworthy
The pessimist's guide to a hopeful futureNov 02, 2021
Deepening understanding over making sense, with Mike Chitty
Mike is a leadership guru. I’ve orbited his work for years, but didn’t get to know him until I joined one of his ‘Progress Schools’, a sort of group coaching event for people working out where they’re going in life.
He’s got a really warm, learned charm. He exudes wisdom and experience with all the stories and examples he uses to relate to people and make a point. Yet under all that is a man who has embraced ‘not knowing.’ Mike inspires me to be more open, curious and challenging of my own limiting concepts - the theme of our conversation.
You’ll find Mike on his podcast series ‘Be a better leader’. It’s worth listening to if you enjoy zooming out, getting meta and cerebral on the nature of how we relate to each other, existence and how we might be more human humans.
Mike is an experienced facilitator, trainer, coach and consultant in the public, private and third sectors in the UK and worldwide.
Change, un-learning and humans with Anna Fielding
Meet Anna Fielding (Laycock), who calls herself an impact geek. She's fixing structural flaws in our economic systems, which makes me feel a little bit queasy even reading it. But if anyone can do it, it's Anna. And you'll find out why today. Anna says "the status quo is not my bag," which is spot on because her career puts bystanders like me to shame. She's been campaigning for social, economic and environmental justice most of her life. She's got a master's in global ethics. She's a senior fellow at the finance Innovation Lab. She's been a judge for The Guardian sustainable business awards. And in 2017, she was recognised as one of the leading women in social enterprise. She's also on the women in fintech power list, yet she still finds time to be a coach and a psychotherapist. I'm actually quite honoured to be able to call her a friend and, just reading all that, I'm pretty grateful she found time to talk to little old me.
Liberation from the need for meaning with Laurence Shorter, the lazy guru
When we first met over Zoom, Laurence offered the term 'fellow travellers' to describe us - people on similar or related journeys. Well, to extend the traveller metaphor, it feels like Laurence has travelled to the further reaches of the creative/analytical mind, and returned with freer ways of being your natural, spiritual self - like The Lazy Guru and the art of no idea projects.
Laurence describes himself as a seeker, speaker and coach. He’s into creativity, innovation and leadership, and his day job is conveying 'an actual living experience of what it’s like to be open and relaxed in the face of uncertainty... to bring people into a space they’d usually sell their grandmothers to avoid.'
And it’s that relationship with uncertainty I explore with him, especially in the context of that optimistic or pessimistic disposition - in fact he wrote a novel on this very premise: The Optimist, about his own adventure meeting the great and the good, figuring out how to save humanity (and himself) with optimism.
Listen as we pontificate on freedom, his life as a work-in-progress, and the cosmic joke that is our existance - in the way that only two philosophical, white middle-aged blokes can.
Lazy Guru: http://www.lazyguru.co.uk/
Laurence Shorter's website: https://www.laurenceshorter.com/
Say yes now, figure it out later with Tamma Carel, environmental sustainability consultant
I’ve been drawn to Tamma's fierceness, enthusiasm and warmth ever since I heard her interviewed on The Green Element. Oh, and there’s her optimism too...
By trade, she’s an environmental consultant and trainer who helps organisations meet UN sustainability goals. But behind the formalities I suspect there are some pretty deep, considered values about how she wants to make a dent in the world, and how she shows-up as a leader.
I’m intrigued by how Tamma stays so determined and optimistic (in the face of all the shit going on in the world, as well as the humdrum mundanities of everyday life). I guess I want to find out how people like Tamma wrestle all the other baggage that comes along with the human condition; imperfect yet adaptable as we are, and where her red lines are.
So my hope for the interview is that Tamma sells me her particular vision of the future, of how to be more impactful, as well as a bit more optimistic about where we’re heading. I’ve a feeling her passion is infectious. Let’s find out...
Tamma runs Imvelo environmental consultancy and training: https://imveloltd.co.uk/
Quoted blog article Tamma wrote about changemakers: https://imveloltd.co.uk/2019/03/29/eternal-optimism-and-getting-your-hands-dirty/
Tamma's interview on The Green Element: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBhFqAx_E_w
Nuance, permission to be human with Mark Ormond, culture change consultant
Mark is MD at Tribe Culture Change, a pretty progressive company helping other companies to not kill people, as well as protect the environment - edgy stuff. I think they call people like Mark 'global thought-leaders,' because he speaks at conferences on behaviour change and leadership - that’s his job as a culture change consultant.
In this episode I ask Mark about business as a force for good, influencing others, the nature of change, and whether the world really has gone to shit or not. He also talks about discovering who you really are and what you really think, by talking about it out loud. Like we do here.
I invited Mark to guest because, well to be honest, I needed a safe interview to launch with. But also because he’s one of those magnetic people you meet whose personality sort of rubs-off on you. Perhaps you too might absorb or mimic his easy, affable charm and charisma like I imagine myself to do, yet dismally fail at, in this insightful inaugural episode.