This is my second year of celebrating ‘International Talk like a Pirate Day’ which I wrote about in 2020, so here I go again…my name is Felicity, and I’ve been a pirate for 896 days. Today’s as good a day as any to celebrate why I ‘talk and walk’ like a pirate, and share why it’s core to my personal and professional identity in all its humane and change-agency fullness.
Follow my story with interest or disdain, and you’ll know I am honest about the fact the pirate mindset, modelled on pioneers of egalitarian achievements and social innovation, is born from a discontent with the established order – a strength of feeling that wells up from deep within, that there must be better ways to do things. In the moments of discomfort, a powerful voice emerges, and says, ‘enough!’
‘Be More Pirate’ for me in 2021 and beyond is not about being rebellious. I’m not shy to admit I am capable of the latter; but this is more about “an ongoing repositioning of oneself in relation to the rules. Not a fixed personality type or archetype. Not a permanent state…but a creative and continual reinvention, a way of being which is constantly disrupting itself” (Conniff & Barker, 2020).
‘To be more pirate’ is to crave the opportunity to be more human, “less robotic, less box-ticking, less computer says no, less turning away from suffering” (ibid.); standing up to the systems that stand in the way. Wisdoms drawn from the ‘book’ invite a fundamental honesty that can be both wicked and wonderful, as one crafts and enacts a life code that reclaims your humanity, that you may reach out to others in pain, in need. It is the mindset that lights where and how you seek to effect change, whether “it be in the margins, in the spaces, conversations and actions, that others are unable or afraid to touch“, or warn you away from. To stand up and challenge when the opposite is expected, when there is pressure to conform and agree. Being pirate provides the strength and permission to operate out of your comfort zone, and to engage with the full extent of your imagination.
“To look around at all that is going on about you and draw your own conclusion about what matters and what doesn’t…drawing on your own, not inherited thinking, with your heart as well as your head” – Conniff & Barker, 2020
There have been many private and public pirate moments this year, which I believe affords me the right to the identity I project to the world… there is no point in inauthentic boundaries between personal and professional spaces. It’s who I am. There have been trials and triumphs, with interesting and highly motivating feedback.
With shared captaincy with Professor David A Kirby, I have been strongly purposed to put my Educational Pirate skills to good use at the ‘Harmonious Entrepreneurship Society’. Our aim, in founding this organisation, is to circumnavigate and integrate all manner of entrepreneurship approaches in accordance with Ashby’s Law of Requisite Variety, bringing together people who have worked in competition, or in silos, or plainly unaware of each other’s good endeavours. This requires a conjoined focus on all people, planet, purpose and profit, rather than separate address, as has been the case traditionally. We set out, just last November to recruit an integrated, inter-generational, inter-cultural and inter-disciplinary crew to help “steer” our ship with the determination, vigour and resilience of the Golden Age change agents addressing the complicated, the uncomfortable and the unjust and embracing social, cultural, environmental and economic value creation.
It was just a couple of weeks ago, Dr Ayman El-Tarabishy (Executive Director of the International Council for Small Business) posted “Humane, Sustainable, and Harmonious Entrepreneurship: Shifting to a More Holistic Perspective of Entrepreneurship”. Here Dr El-Tarabishy drew attention to the work of the Harmonious Entrepreneurship Society, highlighting our contribution to reframing ‘entrepreneurship’.
This year, I have also been expanding the pirate network and been bowled over by the growing support from all walks of life and context – good trouble is mounting. I have not let many moments slip to share the pirate code and all that it represents. I recall a memorable moment when I attempted to recruit a Deputy Minister. Giving him an overview of the purpose and manner of the Be More Pirate campaign and its utility for speeding up change in education and sustainability Lee listened with passion, proving to be a man up for radical change in his new mission as Deputy Minister of Climate Change for Wales.
I have met with other pirates of direct recruit by Sam and Alex (of Be More Pirate) too. There was an energetic and loud but serious exchange of values, code, and vision followed by some fun sidebar threads when my paths crossed with Jamie Burdett and Amber Lort-Phillips. I literally count down the days to another meet at Cymbrogi Futures HQ in Lawrenny, to help drive the changes needed in our education system.
So have I talked the talk, walked the walk?…well I believe I embrace the code from the moment I wake ’til I rest my head, promoting ‘being more pirate’ as a ‘metaphor and a mechanism’. It’s been taken out to education conferences local and afar. Sometimes I have stood alone, other times I have stood side by side with fellow edu-pirates, or supported from the sides lines.
I have also taken the code out to other universities, with the swashbuckling live discussion with the staff at Bishop Grosseteste University (BGU), with co-conspirator Chris Jackson, Merchant Adventurer, Transformational Change Agent, and Team Coach and Programme Leader of the BGU Team Entrepreneurship degree.
These are just a selection of my pirate days. I hope that the collection is a genuine and meaningful contribution to the celebrations today of ‘International Talk like a Pirate Day’.
How to Be More Pirate: 2020 by Sam Conniff & Alex Barker , Own It, London