What book are you reading at the moment?

I’ll be honest, finding time to read can sometimes be a bit of an effort. I’m also a bit fussy – I need a book to be engaging and peak my interest. I don’t have much patience of dry tomes.

The book I’m reading at the moment (full disclaimer I haven’t actually finished reading it yet!) is called Be more Pirate by Sam Conniff Allende. And it is indeed about pirates. At least a particular type of pirate at a particular time in history known at the the Golden Age Pirates. While there is a lot of information about pirates in the book it’s not just about pirates. It’s about being more of a rebel, being braver, bolder and not accepting the status quo. It’s about taking some chances and not just accepting your lot. It’s about exploring new possibilities and “finding creativity through distruction” by breaking old systems. Whether that is “the system” or just what’s not working for you or your organisation.

There is also a fair amount of interesting stuff about pirates.

So whilst reading this book, several questions have popped into my mind. Particularly about the different acts of rebellion people perform.

Just buying the book in the first place may constitute being a bit more pirate. I went into the bookshop looking for some business books and came out with this one. I didn’t have a particular reason to buy it, it wasn’t on my endlessly long list of “books I am supposed to be reading” and it’s pink (I’m not a fan). So from the outset, I was feeling a bit more pirate.

The idea set out in the book is that you think of what you might want to change and build up your pirate skills to do so. It’s about being a change maker, and not doing things in a certain way because that’s the perceived wisdom or the way that “everybody” does it. And further than that, busting through some of the the rules that are set up and don’t make any sense, or are unfair or outdated.

At least that’s my interpretation. I haven’t finished it yet, but I will, I’m enjoying it!

So what kinds of rule breaking are there?

There are those people who break a rule simply because you can. Like cycling down a one way street. Not because it will get you anywhere quicker, but because it’s a bit naughty. Or perhaps slightly less likely to end in trouble – eating cake for breakfast. It’s not what you are meant to do. People who just don’t like rules.

Then there are people who break rules because they like annoying others. A bit like eating crisps with your mouth open because you know it will irritate someone. A bit passive aggressive maybe.

You might break a rule because you are annoyed with the person who created the rule in the first place.

Or because you don’t like the outcome of the rule, either because of its affects on you, or others.

Then there is the more more deliberate and well thought out acts of piracy, the more planned ones, the one that are trying to lead to change. First in my mind these days is Extinction Rebellion – pirates looking for system change in the climate emergency. They don’t have to be big acts, or big movements (think Greta Thunberg). They can be small but meaningful, like getting a petition going.

What other types of rule breaking are there I wonder?

Being a good pirate might not be something I have fully embraced yet. But I am very well placed to enable other people to collaboratively work out how to do things a bit differently.

Some of my facilitation work can be a bit pirate. It’s about encouraging people to think a bit differently, to unpack and challenge what they think they know and to ask questions. It’s about working with groups to help them pull apart what is not working and come up with ideas to do it differently. Some conversations might get uncomfortable, but far better to have them with the right support, that to avoid them and do “business as usual”.

Some of the people I have worked with are pretty pirate in themselves – disruptors who don’t see why not. They don’t break rules for the sake of it, but because they want to do something differently. Because they want to change things. And because they don’t see why they shouldn’t. They want to have those conversations that enable them to still think differently, but use their ideas constructively.

Things are always changing, and perhaps we need to all be a bit more pirate to learn how to embrace those changes. It’s well documented that we live in times of uncertainty. Upheaval it seems is all around us. Sitting back and letting things happen to us, or doing things because we are told to is not necessarily the way forward. Getting more involved, in whatever is going on in our own worlds (whether that is THE world or your organisation, or your group of friends) must surely be better than sitting back and watching it all happen around us.

Do you need to have any pirate focused discussions? Some conversations that lead somewhere different and don’t just go with the flow? Someone to mix things up a bit and do something a bit different?

Get in touch – Pirate Facilitator at your service!

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