We Not Me: Seasonal Thoughts from Scotland

By Gavin Cargill

Guest Article

As we prepare to enter 2023, millions of us across the world might be tempted to make New Year’s resolutions, commitments, and goals for the next twelve months. However, there is not a huge bank of evidence that this will produce the desired results, but for some of us, it could!

Another way in this last month of 2022 to engage our minds and hearts for next year is to spend a few minutes writing what you know this December that you didn’t know last January. Such an exercise might give us the freedom to reflect on world events at one level and personal circumstances at another.

We may have a different story to tell ourselves and perhaps others.

In January 2022 there were many things we all didn’t know that we do now. Now at the top of my December list is the slogan ‘We not Me’ and I’m grateful to Turknett Leadership Group for suggesting this phrase which is triggering many positive thoughts!


We not Me!

We not Me! is a simple, pithy, and memorable slogan very worthy of exploring and adopting. Having said that, it is also worth reminding ourselves that ‘workable’ simplicity is normally underpinned with complexity and even perplexity. However, pursuing the We not Me! path can lead to a place of positive fulfillment to everyone’s benefit in the workplace, the family, and society at large.

We not Me! captures the spirit of ‘The 21st Century Golden Rule’… “To Be to others as you would have them Be to you.’’

We not Me! is also an expression of the principle of ‘Interdependence’ – a need for every generation, to be taught, understood, and embraced.

We not Me! could and perhaps should be the mantra to provide the glue of community development and might just help us address our challenges of polarization (Yes, Scotland has that problem too!)


We not Me! In Action

Value the Person – StoryBuidling, is a movement more than an organization and is continuing to evolve between ‘Pittsburgh and Kigali’. Pittsburgh, USA, and Kigali, Rwanda were chosen as two cities to represent this evolution. Pittsburgh, which is in the first world and Kigali, in the developing world, are places that have people who are experiencing the best of times and the worst of times – just like every other place and person in the world! In fact, we all live somewhere between these two cities whether that’s Atlanta, USA, Edinburgh, Scotland, or Tirana, Albania. We all share a common humanity differently wherever we live, learn and love. On the journey, we discovered that we were exploring a universal need and in many cases a Blind Spot!


Value the Person ~ Story Building

The movement was and is being inspired by thousands of individuals living and working together in organizations and communities in different cultures, and circumstances with very different capacities, physically, mentally, and socially.

The one thing their leaders and most of their followers had in common was a belief in and a commitment to recognize the innate value, uniqueness and potential of each person and a determination to create a culture where ‘Experiencing being Valued’ is not only vital, but possible and always a work in progress.


Some of the original stories:

Pittron Steel was a failing business in the 1970’s in Pennsylvania. Ikirezi Natural Products was a community interest company that grew out of a failed state in the ashes of the Rwandan genocide. The Thalidomide Volunteer Group with survivors of one the world’s biggest medical failures in history.


Pittron Steel

Pittron Steel was transformed under the leadership of the late Wayne Alderson between 1972 and 1974. Wayne was appointed CEO when the company was 80 days into a strike. He led management, unions, and the workforce to collaborate under a Value of the Person action plan. Within two years the company had become one of the most productive and profitable business units in North America. This transformation is recorded in the US Congress and resulted in the formation of Value of the Person Consultants. Today, Wayne’s daughter, Nancy Jean O’Donnell, continues the work with US organizations from her base in Pittsburgh.


Ikirezi Natural Products

Ikirezi Natural Products was founded by Dr Nicholas Hitimana in 2005. Nicholas escaped certain death with his wife Elsie and six months old son Jonathon during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. After attaining a PhD in agriculture at Edinburgh University in Scotland, the family returned to Rwanda in 2001. Nicholas and Elsie were committed to creating meaningful jobs for the widows and orphans from both sides of the genocide. The Ikirezi project was founded in 2005 to produce essential oil from Geranium plants. The principles of Value the Person were and are in Nicholas’ and Elsie’s DNA. The project continues to inspire others beyond the borders of Rwanda, the ‘Land of a Thousand Hills’.


The Thalidomide Volunteer Visitors Group

The Thalidomide Volunteer Visitors Group was founded by Dr. Martin Johnson, the new Director of the Thalidomide Trust, in 2001. As one of his initiatives to engage the survivors, Martin brought together a group to be trained to reach out to help other survivors in need of an empathetic ear along with an understanding of resources available to whatever their needs were. The glue that held these survivors together is the primary belief that only when people ‘Experience being Valued’ then they can start to embrace positivity, purpose and meaning in life! Very often their history had not been one where they had enjoyed anything like that experience.


We Can All be Story BUILDERS

From these and other stories emerged a need to invite others to experience Value the Person ~ Story Building perhaps as an ignition to coaching, team building, or even as a one-off experience.

Ultimately we are looking for people to become Story BUILDERS in their own right. The role of the Story BUILDER is to shine a light on the innate value, uniqueness, and potential of each participant. This is a achieved by listening, retelling, and imagining each person’s story non-judgmentally and confidentially.

It’s We not Me!