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Making my way in Mayvin through the lens of practice-based learning 

Author / Team Member

“How can I embrace my newness & difference to discover more about my place, presence and practice in Mayvin, and do this in service of what the business needs right now?”
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New consultant Ash Thomas' reflections

Starting a new role is a universal and relatable experiences that comes in a very personalised package. And in that package comes lots of opportunity to take a look at what might be going on for someone as they navigate change.


I started writing this blog at the start of my second week in Mayvin. But perspectives change quickly. Not only have I rewritten and reframed a lot of what was originally down on paper, I’m no longer the newest member of a growing team. At the end of my first month, I’m already old news!


In my new life as a member of the Mayvin team, writing this has become a way to help me get my bearings, start to find my footing, and set some sense of direction in this new world I’ve landed in. And while I’m not recommending that anyone changes job just to create loads of new data for yourself and golden opportunities to improve your reflexive learning practice, I can’t think of many other situations that meet you with so many mirrors that something about who you’re being and how you’re being in change.

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What are the notable things I’ve kept noticing?



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I kept justifying to myself that there must be good reasons why I’m here and that those good qualities will still work and be useful in this new world that has some recognisable elements but on the whole feels unfamiliar.

I caught myself at times feeling a bit anxious that I should feel more anxious than I do. And then wondering why the absence of anxiety-inducing stimuli still provokes anxiety in me (that’s probably one for another day).

I reflected a lot about the idea (hello 3am!) that what made me useful and valuable and were ‘stand out’ qualities in my previous role – and the niche and currency I carried with me – may no longer be ‘stand out qualities’ in the same way at Mayvin. They’re quite normal.



I discovered that the type and texture of support offered at Mayvin is one of high trust, high autonomy, non-judgmental acceptance that creates the freedom to experiment and try things out without the fear of getting it wrong. And I realise that this is the subtle and skilled art of creating the safe psychological conditions for learning and change that Mayvin practices deeply with colleagues and clients alike. An inside-out affair.



And I frequently felt  ‘at ease’ and ‘in awe’ in a kind of paradoxical way that feels really normal. At ease because of how genuine the sense of belonging and acceptance is around here. And ‘in awe’ at how skilled, smart and ‘on it’ everyone is and wondering how on earth I’ll ‘get there’. And then on top of that, will I get ‘there’ in a way that lives up to what people (and I’m not sure who I meant be ‘people’) expect of Mayvin and of me. And will I be enough of myself and enough of Mayvin to make it all work?



How am I starting to work with this data usefully?

In the middle of my second week, I remembered a few thoughts about practice-based learning I’d picked up from James Traeger including the value of vulnerability and the usefulness of a practice-based learning question to help me get clear on how I want to learn. I got a couple of sheets of A3 and started scribbling out the big bits of info from the millions of notes and observations I’d been jotting in my pad and weaving in some of the phrases, clues and insights from all the conversations and meetings I’d been in. And of course, all of the anxieties and idiosyncrasies that I like to carry around with me everywhere I go in my trusty-yet-untrustworthy emotional backpack. Over a couple of evenings, I came up with something a little bit like this:

“How can I embrace my newness & difference to discover more about my place, presence and practice, and do this in service of what’s needed most right now?”

  • My practice-based-learning question has become my north star to help give me a sense of direction in world where I haven’t yet acquired tacit knowledge 
  • The clearer I made this north star, the more light it started shining on the form and terrain of this new world so I could start to mentally map things bit-by-bit and imagine how it fits together 
  • The more I roamed around my mental map, took in my new surroundings and encountered the inhabitants of this new world and the stories they told me about it, I started to develop a compass for how I might become a good contributing citizen:
    • Follow your nose and enjoy it
    • Be as much of yourself as you can be
    • Don’t let self-awareness turn into self-consciousness
    • Hold onto your differences and use them well
    • Hold things lightly 
  • The more I used my compass to chart a  path, the more comfortable I felt knowing that only really  needed to know as much as I needed to get to a useful  destination today – even if I didn’t have a clear idea of where I was getting to.  
  • So with my north star, my compass and (yes) my emotional backpack still keeping me alert to what’s going on around me, I’m starting to see the landmarks I’d like aim for as I start to develop my practice in Mayvin.

I’m sure I’ll get lost many more times along the way, but I trust that I’ll learn how to reorientate myself – perhaps with a different learning question – as I roam further on this great new adventure. 


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