Autumn Roundtables – If You Build It, They Will Come!
My daughter moved to another city late last year. It was totally new to her, and other than a couple of acquaintances, she really didn’t know anyone there. New university, new classmates, new town to find her way around. That’s often a nerve-wracking experience for many people and I think she was no different.
But she threw herself into it, and after a few weeks of finding her feet, she started to settle. One of things she did to keep herself occupied was that she started running. Small jogs at first, just to feel that she was doing something proactive to get fit. She’s a determined person when she gets something in her head, so her runs became almost daily events. She had no interest in racing or running competitively but she loved the energy that seemed to come after a half-hour running in the open air.
She was talking about this with a classmate: how running for its own sake, at your own pace, for your own reasons, without the need to worry about times or placing, is what most people want from running. That conversation gave rise to an idea – how about putting up an Instagram post to see if there are others who’d be interested in joining up to go for a run one day a week and finishing with a coffee or a smoothie somewhere local. So that’s what the two girls did – just to see if anyone might be interested. That was 5 weeks ago. The Runday Club Cork Instagram page now has nearly 2,000 followers. Last Sunday, nearly 70 people turned up for their 5th weekly run – 70 people who were delighted that someone had taken a simple step and said ‘let’s give this a try’.
The reason I mention this is that it all arose from a simple conversation and two people being willing to push themselves a little bit out of their comfort zones.
In LIFT, we have seen something similar. If you live in the area around Drogheda, you might have started to hear the word LIFT being mentioned in conversations. If so, it is likely that if you traced those conversations back, you might find that one name kept coming up. Karen Devine is a long-time supporter of, and facilitator with, LIFT. She has seen the power of LIFT in building self-leadership and promoting behaviour change in her own life. And that is why she decided to take it on herself to ‘LIFT Drogheda’.
Karen just put it out there – ‘I’m going to be running LIFT Autumn Roundtables online in the community. Would anyone like to join me?’. The response was incredible, with over 100 people signing up. So incredible in fact that some of LIFT’s own team had to row in to help facilitate the roundtables, such was the demand.
Why did Karen decide to start lifting her community? The idea started because Karen herself had seen so much personal benefit since she became involved with LIFT. As she says; “Lift has had a tremendous impact on me personally. Traditionally at October, November time of year, I would get quite burnt out and exhausted. And my way of coping was to work harder. So, I dug myself deeper and deeper into a hole. And as I got older, it took longer and longer to come out the other side.
The big thing with LIFT was the commitment I made to myself every week to look at how I was leading myself. If I’d had a good week, I got to reflect and celebrate and learn from the things that I’d done well. And if it had been a bad week, I’d be able to put a line in the sand, take the learning and move forward with a fresh approach.
So for me, it had a huge personal impact in how I lead myself [and] a massive impact on my overall wellbeing and my overall ability to care for, support and lead others… On a professional level, LIFT taught me how to lead well and how to identify those core values that were strategically important to me. I saw it as a really useful tool that I could share with others and help them to lead themselves better as well.”
Following her call out for willing participants, Karen herself ended up running 5 LIFT Autumn Roundtables each week for 10 weeks. Some of the participants she already knew, others she didn’t. But they all had one thing in common – As Karen says: “The people who participated in the roundtables are all leaders in their own way, in different parts of the community, and what I wanted and hoped to achieve from this was to allow them to be braver, to step into their own leadership roles, and to be able to accelerate change and progress within the sphere of influence that they have. We are all leaders in our own sphere of influence. Sometimes we just don’t realise it”.
This idea that LIFT allows people to find their inner leader was one that was shared by many of Karen’s first-time participants. As one said, “I think no matter what age you are, it’s very rare that people take the time to think about leadership as a concept”. Taking that time allowed participants to appreciate their own leadership role. This is illustrated by one of Karen’s other participants who said that since doing the LIFT roundtables she’s no longer “afraid to go for that leadership role”. She’s open to putting herself forward now, whereas previously she might have left it to others.
Perhaps this idea that LIFT allows people to uncover aspects of their own leadership is best illustrated by Karen herself. Despite taking on this project in her community at the tail end of the year, when normally she is at her most run down, she decided to go for it. She decided to pay LIFT forward to allow others to start to benefit the way that she had. And what was the result? One result was numerous seeds of positive leadership sown in her community, as participants were helped to see the potential in their own spheres of influence. The other result was a personal one for Karen – as her husband noticed, she now had “more energy than you’ve ever had at this time of the year”.
The lesson is simple. It doesn’t matter who we are or where we come from. We all have power to lift ourselves and the people around us. And when our intentions are good, we usually find that there are lots of others who share them. Those people will nearly always be delighted that someone has taken that first step, so give it a try.
(And if you’d like to introduce LIFT to your community, just contact us. We’d be delighted to help).