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Happy Birthday to Helping You Harmonise!

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Floddy helping at a coaching sessionFloddy helping at a coaching sessionTen years ago I was wondering what to write in my inaugural blog post, and realising it didn’t really matter at that point as nobody at that stage knew I was writing it. This post, marking the occasion of Helping You Harmonise’s 10th birthday, makes me feel under both more and less pressure than that first one.

More, because I’m reasonably sure this one will be seen and read – it raises the stakes if what you’re doing is witnessed. Less, because I’ve learned that my policy of writing about what I find interesting and trusting that somebody else may find it interesting too usually works. Indeed, not only has blogging brought me into all kinds of interesting conversations over the years with people who share my interests, it has rewarded me with friendships with people from all over the world.

I don’t think, when I started, that I had any real notion of how long I was going to continue. (I still don’t.) Back in 2008, it was less than 10 years since the term ‘blog’ had been coined. But it felt like the form I had been waiting for as a writer: short pieces that explore one or two ideas at a time, in which you can be both intelligent and informal.

Of course, what I didn’t say in the first instance was that setting up Helping You Harmonise was the first stage of my move out of academia into the freelance world. When I started telling people about that, a frequent question was whether I would go back, to which the answer was then, ‘I don’t know’.

One of the things I have discovered in the interim is that you get to keep your academic identity even when you don’t do the job full time. I get just enough work in that world (writing book chapters, presenting papers, peer reviewing, external examining) to continue feeling connected with it, while getting the freedom to do all those things I was having to say no to for lack of time when I was in full-time employment.

The other significant thing that happened in November 2008 was that Floddy joined our family. We met in IKEA, fell in love, and he came home with us that day. (His name is derived from the Swedish for hippopotamus: flodhäst.) Regular readers will have seen him on multiple occasions pictured with quartets who have come for coaching, and he played a star role in our explorations of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs with LABBS directors back in 2014. That is when he acquired the title ‘Floddy the Hippo of Belonging’.

Having been thinking recently about Daniel Coyle’s ideas on the importance of building a culture of meeting each other’s belonging needs for a group thrive, I am starting to suspect that Floddy may actually be central to the coaching process.

Anyway, thank you for keeping me company on this journey, and I look forward to continuing to learn from all the interesting ideas and experiences people share with me for the next however-who-knows-long.

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