Five Questions: Janice Whyne

The health and future of your team, project, organisation, profit margin etc. can hinge on your ability to sufficiently understand the nature of existing relationships, and your ability to appropriately maintain them.

Janice Whyne

1. Introduce yourself: who are you, what do you do, and why is it important?

My name is Janice Whyne. I’m a Londoner by birth, a Jamaican by birthright, heritage, culture, and more. Professionally, I’m currently occupying the space of a community development practitioner in Asia. I’m seconded to a local non-profit, and aiming to contribute to their work with, and for the Urban Poor. This role carries some leadership responsibility for a small local team, as well as recently being approached to seat on the board of the organisation (argh!).

Other things I am known, or have been known for are: writing (blog posts, poetry, songs, long Christmas card messages…), singing, running 26.2, baking scones, and some other things. I’m a daughter, sister, aunty, cousin, friend, and a person just trying to be me. – In all my multifaceted complexity.

Why is what I do important? Not sure I have a straightforward answer to that. There is a saying that says, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.” To some this may sound macabre-esque, but here’s some of what I take from it. In this life – whether you believe we just get the one life to live, or that there is an afterlife – we are connected beings (who sometimes share the same values, priorities, experiences etc.) inhabiting the same space, who can impact each other for better or worse. So if there is something I can positively contribute to this life we are all living, I think I should. Particularly with, and for, those who have been impacted by ‘the worse’. I cannot confess to always doing so “with all my might”, but I’m endeavouring to give it a go.

2. What’s your most valuable skill?

My ability to encourage (lit. root meaning = put the courage into) others, and journey with them to realising more of their potential.

3. Describe a tool, technique or practice that makes a difference to your work.

The importance of relationships. Whether you are working in a of no-nonsense, purely business environment, or a team is your family vibe (which loosely describes a recognised work culture in Asia), everything begins and ends with relationships. With how a minimum of two parties interact and relate to one another. The health and future of your team, project, organisation, profit margin etc. can hinge on your ability to sufficiently understand the nature of existing relationships, and your ability to appropriately maintain them. Dependent on where you live, and the type of work you do, the interplay of cultural capital, norms and practices, social politics and such – which some may feel have no place in official business – can define/dictate whether you get the job done.

4. What advice do you most need to hear?

Once again, not sure I have a clear or concrete answer to this, but will go with the most articulate thought that came to mind. In the words of Nike, “Just Do It.” A friend of mine gave me a hand-designed postcard which was decorated with the words “procrastination is the most creative art form.” I’m very inclined to agree, and could also probably present a good argument to support or unpack it. However, I also know that for some things in my life – from daily mundane to bigger issues – a Just Do It mindset would be helpful. As it limits the room for rationalising myself out of it, or allowing it to grow bigger in mind than it probably is, which in turn increases the desire not to do it!

5. Suggest an endearing and humorous question for question number five – and answer it.

Q: What is something that you have stuck up your nose?

A: A Sanatogen vitamin tablet. I was in the 4th or 5th year of school (today’s yr 11/12), in our last lesson for the day, the teacher wasn’t in the classroom, and for some reason I was sat at her desk. Who knows why I had a sanatogen vitamin on me, maybe I was supposed to have taken it that morning, but I did, and I decided (possibly because of a dare) I wanted to show that I could put it up my nose. It was round and fruity (around the size of a fizz ball sweet), and up my nose it went, and subsequently got stuck. Thankfully, it didn’t require forcible removal by a medical person. It did though require some frantic and ferocious blowing and maneuvering of my noise, in front of my classmates (oh the shame), and finally out the coloured pill popped. My nose ran red for a little bit too!

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