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A Purple Cow in Leadership Training by Syriah Bailey

February 13th, 2019



In early February, I attended welcome weekend of Ubele’s Young Emerging Social Leaders (YESL) programme for BAME changemakers. It went the way we expect the first day of a training programme to go. Small talk. Good vibes. Comfortable uncertainty. A lot of coffee.

“We’re going to be honest; we know the start of this programme, but we don’t know the end” were Ubele Programme Director, Michael Hamilton’s first words. That, I suppose, is what makes Ubele’s YESL programme a purple cow. The basis of Ubele’s purple cow is that as the year progresses, we get to decide on what we need and what we can realistically achieve individually, as a group and for our communities.

The word 'leadership' comes from the word 'leith'. Leith means to cross a threshold; to let go of one world we are familiar with and go into another. In the first week of February, we began the process of phoenix’s going into flame; an opportunity to renew our learning and build on the skills we already have. In so many ways this feeling of not knowing is reminiscent of my time with the Roundhouse’s Puffball back in 2014. We didn't know what it would be and as the participatory arts process unfolded we produced a touring theatre, spoken word and circus production featuring the stories of queer and trans youth, a radio show, short films and panel discussions on Human Rights.

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As I continue to meet new people and understand different perspectives through programmes like Ubele’s YESL programme, I will continue to come full circle in my personal and professional development. Let’s call it a never-ending Saturn Returns. On this particular Saturn Returns, one thing I learned is that leadership will only come into being if you have the courage to let go of the old and put your foot into the space of nothingness. This new world manifests through us; through the conduit of our own actions. The first person you lead is yourself… and sometimes it takes a purple cow to show you.

Ubele’s Young Emerging Social Leaders Programme will continue to meet through the year as we grow as changemakers, campaigning with our communities.

Syriah Bailey, YESL Programme participant

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