“Why did I chose the blue thing? His colour, he stood out as very different from other things around him, he is a bit cartoony which always appeals to me.  I don’t recall much about the room other than enjoying the blue thing.”

 Steve Chapman is consultant who like me is interested in ‘stuckness’ and specialises in finding different, creative, unusual and often counter-intuitive ways of disturbing stuck patterns that individuals, groups and organisations find themselves in.


Like Steve, I have noticed the piece every time I go into Gallery 145 of the V&A, mainly because of the bright turquoise blue colour amidst many more traditionally white ceramics.

Uas (ritual sceptre or staff) of turquoise-glazed composition or faience. BC1425, Egypt. Photograph copyright V&A Museum


I saw Steve  on the last day of a programme I was running.  He had led a couple of sessions and I had invited him along to say “Hi” at the end of the final day.

It was during a heatwave and Steve had experienced the day before the train system meltdown, both the tracks, the rail system and the people inside the sweltering carriages.

He texted me “Is it ok if I come in shorts and flipflops?”

“No problem” I replied, as I hope I usually do.


Timings being what they were, I met Steve just as I was going to pick up a senior leader in the organisation where the programme was being held.  They were to join in a Q&A.

I could not get over the difference in these two people, both of whom I respect and for whom I have a fondness – Steve, in his summer stylings, the director in their business suiting.

We walked to the workshop room, I puzzling over how to mediate between the two.  I felt at the same time like a serf helping the knight into their armour and a patron championing a new different voice.


On entering the room, we found the participants working with a colleague, discussing the models and collages they had created as part of their inquiry into their personal development edge, where they needed to step into next.


There was a moment of … of… To be honest I am not quite sure.  20 people were witnessing each other in a different context.


Who stood out more at that moment?  Steve in his flip flops, the director in their formal attire, my colleague introducing a creative activity, or the participants, some of whom worked for the director, being seen doing something different to what they would normally be doing?  Or perhaps me, trying to balance the social protocols, honouring everyone’s position, yet trying to push the potential for learning?


Everyone stood out.


The act of being different, going to greater or lesser lengths beyond the normal, outside the comfort zone is a risky act.  And it is one that doesn’t always get easier with practice.

But it is an exercise in flexing and stretching one’s learning, expanding into adjacent fields, growing into one’s authority.


The sceptre of uas stands out as a symbol of power and might.  Standing out is a risky act, but it is also a powerful one.