“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too”.
William Hutchison Murray
What Does ‘Manifestation’ Mean?
My funny story begins with a definition. There are many different ‘definitions’ of the word manifest, but the simplest would be that a manifestation is ‘something that is put into your physical reality through thought, feelings, and beliefs’.
This means that whatever you focus on is what you are bringing into your reality. You may focus and manifest through meditation, visualization or just via your conscious or subconscious (Katherine Hurst).
My academic career began in 1994 when I was accepted onto a Masters’ programme in Voluntary Sector Management at the University of East London (UEL). The fact I only had 5 O’ Levels and could get accepted onto a postgraduate course is another story. Suffice it to say, it was a momentous moment for me to enter University. I remember the day well. I had just received my library card. As I put the card into the barrier, I paused before turning the wheel. This is it. A milestone reached. I’ve done it! And pushed my way into the university library.
My academic interest lay in the development of women’s organisations. Throughout the 1980s I had been an active participant in the women’s movement, helping to set up and run different organisations that focused on improving women’s status and situation, both in the UK and internationally. Within the voluntary sector literature, I was required to study for the M.A., these grass roots experiences of women mobilising were invisible. And so I decided to focus my masters’ thesis on Women’s Organisations in the UK Voluntary Sector.
When I entered the library that day, one of the first books I looked at was Hansard (the official record of debate in the British parliament). I wanted to see if the records referred to women’s organisations. I looked up the most recent parliamentary debate on International Women’s Day. As I read, I discovered a pattern hidden in the speeches. Whenever an MP was making their argument, they always quoted University research as part of their evidence. I thought to myself, I want my research to be good enough to be read out in Parliament. And so that day, I made a decision: to produce research that could be read out in an International Women’s Day parliamentary debate!
As my research unfolded, the decision slowly fell into my subconscious and I didn’t really think of it again. My research progressed into the international arena and some of the findings are published here (Riordan S, 2000).
In 2000, my academic interests shifted to social enterprise, when I led development of the first BA in Social Enterprise in the world at UEL. Working in partnership with the Bromley-by-Bow Centre in East London, I was privileged to deliver a 3-year course to new social entrepreneurs. The course was designed around the Learning Community model and ran for 10 years. A Learning Community approach proved successful in supporting the emergence and development of many social enterprises.
In 2009, I did that thing that we all do occasionally. I googled myself. In those days I didn’t have a website or web presence. I was curious to know what information there was on the net about me. And I scrolled down, and there before my eyes in the Meta Link, were words that blew my mind – Hansard, women’s organisations, and Siobhan Riordan. I clicked the link and there I was! Ms Dundas, used my research to make her case in the International Women’s Day parliamentary debate on 4 March 2004! My decision in 1994 had manifested a decade later. But not in the British parliament as I had assumed. This was the Australian Parliament Hansard!
My journey began with the desire to make the incredible work of women’s organising more visible in the world. And thanks to Ms Dundas, the voices of women’s organisations were heard and my decision was manifest.
Siobhan Riordan is Director of Learning Communities Network, delivering online professional development courses. Check out the latest course in Ventures 2021 – Project Start Up.
Women’s Leadership Circles – A Course of Discovery, are also being run in January, especially for an Australian audience. Check out our next course.