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News & Blog

From High Heels to Down Suits. From Milton Keynes to Rannoch Moor!

Posted: 5th July 2017

None of us wants to die regretting the life we didn’t live but could have had. Of being in the wrong place, living someone else’s story, and failing to do anything about it.

As the irrepressible raconteur Quentin Crisp once said,”It’s no good running a pig farm badly for 30 years while saying, ‘Really, I was meant to be a ballet dancer.’ By then, pigs will be your style.”

So, why do so many people live out an ill-fitting storyline?

Social Psychologist Dr. Andy Milward explains, “We are motivated to craft a self identity that gives meaning to our existence. We reflect on the events that have characterised our lives so far. Some planned, some random, some good, some disappointing. Subconsciously, we tie these together in the form of a story. Just as with a novel, our story has an underlying theme. And this determines the content of future chapters in our life story. If we want to change our unfolding story, we need to figure out this theme. We can then write a different chapter, according to a new theme that will lead to a happy rather than a dispiriting denouement.”

Jo Bradshaw, a one-time business advisor in Milton Keynes, is a great example of someone who has crafted an exciting new life.

As a young professional she had a very limited appetite for the outdoors and adventure. Fast forward a handful of years and Jo is now a freelance high altitude expedition leader.

A charity cycle trip led onto other charity challenge. And soon her friends helped her notice that a new story was possible; one she could make a living from; one she could inspire others through.

Jo is now looking to complete the Seven Summits in 2018, a huge endeavour she is undertaking to support the work of Place2Be, a charity that provides emotional and therapeutic services in primary and secondary schools.

She has climbed Everest, Denali, Aconcagua, Elbrus, and Kilimanjaro; and will attempt Carstensz Pyramid and Mount Vincent over the coming year.

Would you like to explore more with Jo and Andy? Learn about narrative psychology? And start to shape the next chapter of your life?

Chamber member Dave Stewart, MD of the Fresh Air Learning Company, has created the “Highland Hack” series of themed walking journeys for small groups of business leaders. The next one, “New Directions,” runs 9 – 13 October 2017, features Jo and Andy as well as a number of fascinating guest companions.

As Dave explains, “Unlike a traditional residential programme, Highland Hack is a hotel-hopping journey on foot through the wild beauty of the Scottish Highlands. The physicality of journeying is an important aspect of the reflective process we facilitate. The route follows the northern section of the iconic West Highland Way and is accessible to a wide range of fitness levels. It’s a perfect setting to reflect, re-energise, and recalibrate around the big steps business leaders need to make. It’s also a whole load of fun!”

The Fresh Air Learning Company is on a mission to breathe fresh air into how ambitious companies think and act; and in particular to accelerate the effectiveness and resilience of their boards, senior teams and leaders.

The company specialises in immersive outdoor team experiences and inspirational leadership journeys. Team experiences are designed to develop the self-awareness and trusting relationships required to boost performance. Leadership journeys provide the space and inspiration for leaders to reflect, refocus and re-energise around the big steps they need to take.Team experiences range from reflective Board away-days to powerful simulations set within dramatic storylines. Leadership journeys range from half-day business leader walks to multi-day, creative thinking treks through the Scottish Highlands.

Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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