Behind the Scenes

Above all, Compassion.

In the 1950s, Kurt Hahn, the man who would eventually become the spiritual founder of the Outward Bound movement, had a profound insight about young people:

The experience of helping a fellow man in danger, or even of training in a realistic manner to be ready to give this help, tends to change the balance of power in a youth's inner life with the result that compassion can become the master motive.

In my own experience, as a colleague and a manager, I have discovered that people become trustworthy when they are invested with trust. They become responsible as they are given more authority to do things as they see fit to do them right. People grow in spirit when that spirit is watered with care and compassion.

The Outward Bound movement creates events that model situations of rescue - even when they do not call them by that name. It invites young people - and older people - into those situations. Not to create macho individuals, hardened and tough. But to invite those qualities inherent in our common humanity - "an enterprising curiosity, an undefeatable spirit, tenacity in pursuit, readiness for sensible self denial, and above all, compassion" - to come to the fore.

I'm not saying that Johann Hari's views are the perfect answer, nor that I agree with everything he says. But there is a core in what he says that rings true to my experience, and to the wisdom I have seen work in the world - the wisdom I heard first, years ago, in the writings of Kurt Hahn.