Trust Your Humanity

Garaíocht Training and Support

Get in touch if you’d like to learn more about how to put the Garaíocht Manifesto into practice.

Garaiocht.com offers professional development training for organisations, community groups, and individuals.

There isn’t a list of what’s on offer. As the Garaíocht Manifesto says, helpfulness before planning. I’m not going to plan a learning programme for people I haven’t had contact with.

It’s best to get in touch first so we can talk about your situation, and then we can start talking about the most helpful way to proceed.

Coaching and mentoring is available on a 1-to-1 basis.

The Garaíocht Way

Garaíocht training, coaching and mentoring is distinctive for eight reasons:

1

Distinctively Irish but Culturally Human

The Irish are famous for being poetic, musical, magical, and mystical. Sure, aren’t we world famous for it?

We may well be, but it’s a little bit more complicated than that.  For example, this stereotype of the Irish Celts as creative, feminine, and childlike was a key weapon in the colonial arsenal in the 18th and 19th centuries, arguably cultivated to give weight to the inherent unsuitability of the Celtic (Irish) race for participation in the manly and public pursuit of politics or national political autonomy.

But aren’t ye also famous for your hospitality, charm, and sociability, and for the warm welcome you extend to visitors?

That may well be so. But it’s important to remember, for example, that mid-way through the 20th Century, the notion of Ireland as a land of welcome and charming hospitality became official policy, and dare I say, mythic propaganda, of the Irish government in its drive to attract tourists and their money. Since then, it has been very easy to discount any account of traditional culture in Ireland that celebrates hospitality or good relationship as a wilfully romantic representation of Irish life.

All the more so recently, as Ireland is now also famous for institutional and clerical child abuse, sectarian political violence, systematic persecution of the most vulnerable, and the worst excesses of corporate corruption, among other things. If ever there was a time for transparency and accountability, that time is now.

One of the challenges of my work has been to walk a path between romanticism and cynicism.

Garaíocht is, in part, a way to make some sense of all of this, and to find in the midst of it all a pragmatic, liveable hope for the social and political possibilities for being human.

My work on garaíocht is based upon years of original research into the distinctive cultural traditions of Ireland, Northern Ireland, and the Irish Diaspora. Along the way I’ve sat in on vibrant Irish traditional music sessions in secret rural venues. I’ve enjoyed fireside chats with songs and stories late into the night. I’ve spent a lot of time listening to people. I’ve felt how it feels when it’s going well. I know what it means when I catch an eye that tells me quietly that it’s not. I’ve learned to find hope in the ordinary.

The hospitality and humanity I encountered in my research into ethical ways of being among Irish traditional musicians and singers I also recognised in my own experience of family and extended family. And I recognised it in my mother’s care of my father in his last year of life. And again in my wife’s loving way with our children. This was never about the conspicuous, manufactured Irishness of stage, screen, concert hall, and pub. This was something else.

The easy humanity of what I now call garaíocht was indeed a culturally distinctive aspect of certain people’s lives in Ireland, and also among communities abroad who self-identify with Ireland, but the human experience that I call garaíocht is in no way unique to Ireland. It’s another way into those conversations about the strategic power and radical political promise of humanisation that are happening all over the world – Ubuntu or Umubuntu on the African continent; Horizontalismo in Argentina; Kyosei in Japan, and many more.

People being decent to each other on this island and across the world isn’t a myth. People being consistently generous across entire communities and across oceans isn’t a myth. People living with a deep ecology of stewardship and community that extends far back to the past and way into the future isn’t a myth. There is a profound humanity to be found here in Ireland and in many other places. It would be tragic if we did not recognise kind, thoughtful people in their ordinary lives as the custodians of a truly powerful way of being human.

The stories we tell ourselves about professional life aren’t working. We need new stories.

We don’t need new ways of being human, however. The old ones will do fine. The really old ones, that is.

But the challenge and the invitation is to come up with new stories that can be recognised as even more plausible than our failing ones.

Garaíocht is one of the stories I offer.

2

Meaningful Teaching and Learning

A lot of so-called learning is best described as ‘information delivery’ – you turn up in a room, someone switches on a screen, and they list information at you for an hour. Or two. And then you leave. There is often little you can get from a presentation like this that you couldn’t get from a webpage or an online video.

My experiences in teaching and learning, and lots of research in teaching and learning, tell me that this is one of the least appropriate ways to learn anything truly meaningful.

When I work with people I expect them to be human beings, not containers waiting to be filled with information. I want to know what you think. I want to hear your voice. I want to know what issues you encounter at work.

I work with people who want to be more thoughtful, helpful, and effective in their professional practice. Every question, idea, invitation, or challenge that I offer is designed to help your experience of working life become more meaningful.

I’m more interested in the personal experience you bring and how we can together explore ways to enhance your professional life. Call me a romantic, but I still believe that learning can transform lives and make the world a better place.

3

The Art of Being Human

Imagine doing professional-development training where you come out energised, hopeful, and ready to bring a greater humanity to your work.

It is quite hard to imagine, because most professional learning is pretty dry – the latest legislation, a follow-the-leader task-list for doing things the ‘right way’, or a third-hand introduction to cutting-edge thinking (often from the 1990s).

Professional learning can offer you more. You should expect more. I am committed to professional development that gets to the heart of what it can mean to be human in the workplace. You’re more than a number, as the saying goes. Look past the admin and the operational protocols and find the humanity where the light gets in. That’s where truly cutting-edge thinking happens.

4

The Art of Being Helpful

The focus of garaiocht.com is the art of being helpful, as people and as professionals, as individuals and together.

Garaíocht combines the experience of proximity  – the place, people, spaces, and relationships around us – and the invitation of our most helpful humanity.

The Garaíocht Manifesto invites us to ask what kind of working life would make us thrive as a professionals and as human beings.

If that’s something you’ve thought about and aspire to, I can introduce you to new ideas, thinkers, tools, and case studies to help you get closer to the kind of working life you want for yourself or others.

There are always helpful possibilities. Become more aware of how close they may already be.

Sign up to the newsletter for other helpful stuff like news of related international work, helpful tools and resources, and advance access to my current writings on garaíocht, helpfulness, leadership and culture change.

5

The Art of Being Thoughtful

I’m not going to encourage you to do things the way they’ve always been done just because that’s the way they’ve always been done. That’s just not me.

How is it working for you and others?
Might there be a more helpful way to do things?
How do you know what’s helpful?
Yes, but does that tell you what’s actually helpful or are you just taking that for granted?
Do you know where your tools come from?
Do your tools build assumptions and values into your work that you don’t share?

Being appropriate may not always be helpful. Indeed, in some work environments, being helpful may not always be appropriate.

Understand the status quo, but don’t accept it just because you’re supposed to. Learn to better discern what may or may not be supporting you, your colleagues, your community, or your organisation.

I’ve found that appropriately disruptive innovation is often just another way of saying, ‘We’d like things to be more human around here.’

If that’s thoughtful, I like thoughtful.

6

The Proximity Principle

I’m interested in real life. I’m interested in the professional challenges that people encounter, whatever profession they’re in.

As a trainer and as a researcher I explore how work becomes more stressful, more difficult, less human.

Garaíocht invites people to consider how work can become less stressful, less difficult, more enjoyable, more sociable, more human.

I find it always keeps coming back to one thing – people coming to believe that the quality of relationship they have with others at work is generally less important than administrative, bureaucratic, financial, or organisational demands on their time and energy. It’s business. It’s not personal.

In the work of garaíocht, if it’s not personal, it’s not business. At least, not if you want the kind of helpful, culturally-sustainable business that supports us and nourishes the life we want to lead. The same goes for healthcare. Or education. Or peacebuilding. Or community development. Or … You get the picture.

The Garaíocht Manifesto is the engine of every session I run, and the heart of any business I do myself. Across every sector. Whatever else I say, whatever thinking or research I let you know about, whatever sector-specific issues we will discuss, it will always come back to one thing. An invitation to a deeper humanity.

I find the Garaíocht Manifesto challenges me to continually recalibrate my ability to nourish, learn, and thrive in professional life.

7

Ordinary Magic

I believe in ordinary. I don’t train people to become somebody else. I train people to be themselves, just more so. Whatever your background, you bring a wealth of life experience to any learning opportunity, and that’s more than enough to get started with.

I also believe that what I call ‘ordinary ethics’ – the art of being human – is the most vital and overlooked dimension of professional practice. By ordinary ethics I mean qualities like kindness, gentleness, patience, honesty, integrity, decency, sociability, and trust. Let’s be honest, they’re not just overlooked, they’re frequently downplayed or even denigrated in a high-functioning work environment. These qualities are often regarded as inappropriate to the urgencies and intensities of working life.

I invite people to think of garaíocht as the base for ordinary ethics, and to think of ordinary ethics as the lynchpin of professional and organisational health, wellbeing, and sustainability. I want to see extraordinarily ordinary people doing ordinarily extraordinary things.

8

Cross-Sectoral Training

Garaíocht is about people, relationships, and organisations. Work cultures shape us as we shape them. And the patterns and trends of organisational behaviour really don’t care what jargon you know, what titles you use, business breakfasts you go to, what conferences you attend, or what journals you read.

That’s why I don’t do silos. The primary challenges of professional life and organisational behaviour are human-scale and cross-sectoral in character – engagement, productivity, motivation, organisational identity, physical and mental wellbeing, nurturing innovation, cultural sustainability, social responsibility, technological change, efficiency and effectiveness, ecological impact – so in developing the work around garaíocht I made sure to design training that is human-scale and cross-sectoral in application.

Garaíocht training addresses the key challenges in professional ethics, work culture, culture change, and leadership that all sectors share, by virtue of their humanity.