‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has’ (Margaret Meed).
A colleague recently shared this quote with me in relation to some filming we were doing for our new module on management and leadership in health and social care. Most of the filming took place in the front room of a small flat in Aberystwyth. Aberystwyth is currently facing the loss of essential hospital services due to restructuring and centralisation. So we were filming in a small space, in a small town, for a potentially small audience, but what we were doing speaks to any thoughtful, committed citizen who cares about the world.
As a team we share a vision that through this module we can help the leaders and managers of the future to shape the health and social care services of the future – to change the world for the better. Perhaps it is an idealistic vision, but it helps us believe that what we are doing is worthwhile and can make a difference.
At this time when the value and purpose of universities is being called into question, the belief that higher education – the research we conduct and the learning that we facilitate – can make a difference is crucial not only for our own sense of self worth but for the future of universities across the UK.
In my mind, if what we do inspires just one person to go out and do their bit to make this world a better one – or even just to make that world more bearable for that individual – then it has been worth it. That’s why this month I published an article in Om Yoga Magazine. Om Yoga Magazine is always full of idyllic images of exotic ashrams, adverts for holistic retreats and features on the latest yoga studio opening up in some fashionable district of London. But the reality for most people is that yoga practice takes places in decidedly less tranquil surroundings. They’re lucky if the local gym runs a weekly class, or they carve out moments of time in a corner of the front room, in between getting home from work and cooking the kids’ tea.
But my research on ‘therapeutic landscapes’ shows that just because someone’s lifestyle, location or budget may not stretch to the perfect spiritual yoga experience, it doesn’t mean those moments of practice should be any less powerful. So in my article I explore how a person’s approach to the spaces they practice yoga in can have a huge impact on the experience – and by being aware of this they can get the full ashram experience without having to leave their front room.
Managers in health and social care and individual yogis in their front rooms may be small groups of people, worlds apart – but each in their own way can change the world if they want to, and if my research and teaching can help in any small way towards that end, then I will be happy. Namaste.