Skip to 0 minutes and 0 secondsSo my Core, my Flex probably was something I was aware of from quite a young age. So I'm deaf. And I was born deaf. And I was born deaf in a white, middle class family in Yorkshire. On a farm. And there weren't really any other deaf people around me. And all of my friends were white, middle class, rural. And the one big thing that made me different was being deaf. So growing up I had a very strong sense of identity, in that, in essence, that these were my Cores. Perhaps not in the sense that these were very fixed ideals that I wasn't prepared to change, but in a sense that I knew that was what I was.

Skip to 0 minutes and 59 secondsAnd when I first went to university in 2008, I started by joining Teach First, which is an organisation in London, which send top graduates from university into failing school. And I remember that, I's never really interacting with people who were different from me. And I have this sense of naivete, almost, that hasn't really challenged myself by meeting different people. And I knew that I was different because I was deaf. And I wanted to find other people who were different to me as well.

Skip to 1 minute and 39 secondsSo I went from a white, middle class, rural background to teaching in southeast London in a failing school, a secondary school, children teaching English to children that didn't have English as their first language, who had grown up in the Caribbean and in Africa. And very quickly realised that our backgrounds were as different as they could come. And it was a real time for me to grapple with what my Core and Flex was, with how important it was that the Core parts of me stood out. That I was very, very fixed with them, versus my adaptability to fit in and to perhaps try to change my behaviour, and change my language, and change my prefixed notions of what life was.

Skip to 2 minutes and 41 secondsBy looking at life through their eyes. That's probably not very clear on understanding what Core and Flex is, in that it's more to do with fixed ideals and beliefs. But my sense of Core and Flex very much emerge from going from having a very strong identity and understanding of what I was, and then going to a very, very different background and being challenged by that.

More than identity

It’s essential to work out what’s in our own Core and Flex, and to try to understand what they mean for other people in other places and from different backgrounds. The endless interplay between them is at the centre of every meeting, every negotiation and every attempt to build relationships with other people.

Genevieve Barr, an Actress, shares her insights into how she identified her Core and Flex and what they mean to her.

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This video is from the free online course:

Developing Cultural Intelligence for Leadership

Common Purpose