Reflections on one amazing summer

Just wanted to share a few thoughts on the summer of sport and culture courtesy of the Olympics. First up are some photos of cultural things from this summer, followed by thoughts on what we can learn from sporting achievements this summer.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Paralympic Flame celebrations in Needham Market in late August. In particular I was thrilled to see the themed benches from local artist Amy Louise Nettleton of My Red Studio. I particularly liked the swimmer’s bench and enjoyed watching a couple of people try on the hat and goggles to be photographed doing a ‘Mobot’ gesture.

Swimmers bench by artist at Needham LakeWheelchair tennis artists bench

The wheelchair tennis bench was a really popular item, and it must have taken ages to stick all the tennis balls on to the bench. The effect was wonderful and much appreciated.

And closer to home in London there were a number of art related events at the Royal Festival Hall which I attended in early August. The first was the map of the world built in Lego, complete with mountain ranges! It was an interactive project and you could help to create it yourself, but by the time I got there it was the last day and all that was left to do was blue squares for the ocean.

Lego map of the world

Inside the Royal Festival Hall was a librarian’s nightmare of an art installation: a book maze. It was made of 250,000 books of which 150,000 were donated by Oxfam, the rest came from UK publishers. There was no rhyme or reason for how the books were organised (so no classification, which is why I call it a librarian’s nightmare), but the effect was very dramatic. It was great to see and hear so many children rushing around the maze, and to find one little girl curled up in the middle reading a book. And perhaps best of all braille books were included in the collection – very inclusive.

Those of us working in London had dreaded the commute during the Olympics and Paralympics, but our worst fears never materialised. Quite the reverse actually, as London became a really friendly, happy place. Things I’ll miss most from that time are the sound of children’s laughter on early morning packed commuter trains, the volunteers giving you directions at Waterloo station and the tweets from SW Trains about medal winners mixed in with updates on my local train services.

Finally, having watched and heard about the successes of all the Olympians and Paralympians I think there are some key lessons we can take from their achievements that can easily be applied to our lives.

  • Vision – be clear about what you want to achieve and by when. Many of the athletes taking part had clearly set their vision on attending London 2012, years before the event and been clear on what they had to do to achieve that vision.
  • Teamwork – visions can’t be achieved without the right support and structure – Team GB Paralympians and Olympians shared the same support teams and noted how important they were to achieving their vision, eg the cycling team.
  • Leadership – is required at all levels in order to make a vision reality – this was clearly in evidence at London 2012 from LOCOG leaders (Seb Coe et al) to athletes to the volunteers.

2 thoughts on “Reflections on one amazing summer

  1. Hi Kate
    Great post – you make me feel ashamed; I’m clearly neglecting to feed my cultural inner man (or should that be woman)!

    I agree totally about your last three points. I think people find it quite hard to set a personal vision. Perhaps the word itself feels a bit too ‘corporate speak’ for many librarians? Or maybe the thought of having a 3 year or 5 year ‘plan’ for your life feels a bit artificial – plus there’s always the fear that you won’t quite get there and so could be setting yourself up to feel like a failure. A bit like New Year resolutions!

    However, I don’t think it has to be a really formal or constraining process at all. Spending a bit of time reviewing where you’re at, what you enjoy or don’t enjoy about your work, and therefore what it would be good to more of, or less of, can lead you to have some idea of what sort of role (or organisation) you’d like to see yourself in later on.

    This sort of semi-subconscious goal or vision or dream can still inform your choices, of what sort of training to go for, what sort of discussions will strike you as interesting on Twitter or LinkedIn or at conferences or in Update, and so where to focus your CPD efforts.

    Of course some people feel more comfortable to have things more concrete and written down and planned, but it’s just as valid to go by ‘instinct’, so long as that has been seeded or informed by some thinking and reading and general awareness of what’s going on in the world and in the profession, and of your own values, interests and skills.

    1. Nicola, Thanks for your comments and glad you enjoyed the post. I was lucky to come across so many cultural things over the summer and it has made me realise I should indulge more often. So I’m off to the theatre this weekend.

      I like your thoughts on personal vision, and you offer some really practical ways to go about that activity, which I do think people find difficult. One reason could be a tendency to believe you have to adhere to it totally, and not flex your vision as you go about achieving it. I’m sure lots of the Olympians had to change elements of their preparation in the 4 years up to Olympics. However, the actual vision of making it to London 2012 didn’t change. Another obstacle might be actually writing it down, so many people think vision’s have to be complicated and lengthy, when actually the opposite is true.

      I can’t get away from the feeling we’ve started a new year as the school/college year has just begun, so a good time to revisit visions!

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