#23: Genevieve Boast on Constructive Rebellion

My guest today is Genevieve Boast. Gen is a writer and the founder of Beyond Human Stories: a global consultancy that exists to connect individuals and organizations to their bigger social purpose and story in the world.

She works with leaders and teams in business, education, charities and communities to create new stories that are authentic, coherent and inspire evolution & resilience in a constantly changing world.

Gen’s an experienced and somewhat exotic coach, facilitator and trainer with her methods spanning a range of disciplines including NLP, continuous improvement, leadership development and indigenous nature-based initiation practices. Her new book, Tough Bliss, came out a few months back. It’s an exceptionally good read and we have 13 signed copies of it to give away – read on for more details.

I spoke to Gen online from her home in Wiltshire, UK. We talk about her childhood as a wild mountain child in Colorado, the shock of moving to an uptight Cambridge, England where if it couldn’t be measured, it didn’t exist. We talk about the culture of the silver bullet, the search for easy solutions. We talk of archetypes that we adopt – the hero, the victim, the rebel, and of authenticity as the ultimate rebellion and as the ultimate process in the making of change.

Gen has been kind enough to write a short blog to accompany her podcast episode…

Who Am I? Authenticity is the ultimate rebellion 

I have spent most of my life in a rebellion of some kind or another. At first this was a process of testing my sense of personal power and control against that of my parents as my fledgling sense of self fought for survival against the tide of social and cultural expectations. I learned that speaking the truth was rarely rewarded when it ran counter to the belief systems of others. My inner rebel was activated early. 

As I grew into adolescence, I felt voiceless and powerless in a world beyond my control and my acts of rebellion took on increasingly dramatic forms. That is until I got arrested for petty theft and possession of marijuana when I was 17. This experience taught me that stereotypical rebellion is simply the other side of the coin from social conformity – both rebels and conformists want to feel seen and acknowledged. Both archetypes seek personal power via two outwardly different, yet inwardly similar, roads. Very rarely is rebellion on behalf of just ‘Me’ successful in the long run. 

Leaving traditional rebellion behind, this part of my identity shape-shifted and I began rebelling against systems, rules and situations that disempowered me and others. In my early twenties, I found myself whistleblowing on a company I was working for that was engaged in theft of our customers’ stock. Despite massive pressure from the dominant cultural system of the company to keep quiet, I lost sleep for nights on end before making the decision to maintain my integrity. After telling the truth to our customer, I endured weeks of victimization as the result of my rebellion before finally being rewarded with a new job working for the company that I had blown the whistle to. I learned that rebellion can have a positive outcome when done for the right reasons and in integrity with our inner moral compass. I learned how to rebel on behalf of ‘We’. 

From here I embarked on an adventure of authenticity. I learned to listen to my own wisdom over that of others, even when this meant going against the status quo. Integrity became my guiding star. In short, I rebelled against the stories of others over my own and in doing so started to create change inside and out. 

When we point our life compass inwards, we begin to sense our own unique storyline amongst the numerous distractions and noise of the world around us. We begin to find that our path through the forest of life becomes clearer with every decision made in integrity. We create change personally and collectively, simply by showing up as ourselves, and speaking/acting from a place of radical honesty. Our authenticity becomes the ultimate rebellion against systems that require conformity to maintain themselves. 

Often as change makers we are tempted into thinking that we need to rely on external change models and systemic approaches to create lasting transformation. We often fall into the trap of trying to ‘make things happen’ or influence others to come around to our way of being. What if all we have to do is show up as our unique, authentic self in every situation? What if, by working on ourselves and mastering our own destructive habits, our role modeling of positive change is enough to disrupt the systems around us? What if, the only thing we need do is answer the question ‘Who Am I?’ and live into the answer as much as we can, each and every day?

Can it really be that simple? 



Simply answer this question…

So who am I…really?

The 13 most authentic answers, as judged by Gen herself, will receive a signed copy of this wonderful new book. Please send your entries via the comment box below this post.

On 13th of every month from July 2018 to July 2019, Gen will pick out the winner from the entries that month.

Tony Cooke

Tony Cooke is an internationally-recognised sustainability leader with over 25 years spent at the nexus of sustainability, innovation and entrepreneurship, developing and executing strategies for business, governments and not-for-profit organisations across a wide variety of sectors. He now manages a portfolio of interests including; senior corporate counsel, executive coaching, non-executive roles and thought leadership through a combination of research, writing and podcasting. Visit my personal blog at http://tonycooke.wordpress.com

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