What’s your lanyard flair?

I’m not a great one for ID lanyard flair. I’m not the fun, zany type that likes lots of badges and buttons declaring my favourite 70’s album, my membership of CND, my nationality or even my love of the smiley, but I think the two badges I do wear say a lot about me.

The ISBL pin. There is no doubt that, in a room of SBMs, wearing this badge breaks ice. “Oh look, ISBL, I’m about to start/I’m half way through/I’ve just finished a course” (they say). Doors are suddenly open to me. I can ask what they are doing, how they are finding it, which parts they have enjoyed the most. From a “getting to know you” point of view – this is a winner.

It is so easy to stand in a room, waiting for a meeting or a training session to start, and make small talk. Perhaps we do that British thing and talk about the weather, the traffic and how long it took us to get here. But in order to make a friend you need to make a connection and my ISBL badge helps me do just that.

Sitting there on my ID lanyard, my ISBL pin speaks about my commitment to the SBM profession, it shows my desire for professional development, it brings our institute into the conversation and promotes discussion on how the role is growing in standing and recognition. We can discuss the recent changes to our professional body. We can talk about the conferences we’ve been to, the speakers we’ve enjoyed, our opportunity to attend this years events (then the inevitable agreement that it is so hard to get away) and where we might meet again. Before we know it, we have connected, we have a common purpose, we swap business cards/school names/twitter handles, we sit together in the meeting, eager to continue our conversation and offer mutual support…we have both made a friend.

The United Federation of Planets pin. In 1977 my parents took my sisters and I from our home in the Cotswolds up to Leicester Square to see Star Wars. (You have to remember that in 1977 petrol cost 18p a litre and less than 50% of households owned a car – travelling to London just to go to the cinema was a big deal!) Perhaps I was at a peak impressionable age but I remember feeling in complete awe of the biggest screen I’d every seen and the sheer enormity of the story of space travel and the future. I was completely hooked. As I grew up, I became more attached to the Star Trek story and characters, and let’s be honest, Star Wars lost its way somewhat. I can never decide whether Spock or Jean Luc Picard is my favourite but as they are essentially the same character, I guess it doesn’t matter.

Space travel for me has always held a fascination and I’m also interested in the physics behind it. I understand that before we even get to warp drive we need to invent some effective inertial dampeners, otherwise we’ll be scrapping the left over mush of ourselves off the inner hull before we’ve even left our own solar system. But isn’t the idea of it exciting? Can you imagine speeding through space to outer reaches of our galaxy, boldly going and breaking that final frontier? I know I can.

The other point of this pin is that in order to be part of a United Federation of Planets, we would have to be a United Planet. That is actually more difficult to imagine than warping through a vacuum. Will we ever put aside our differences and realise that we have got to live together on this planet? Sad to say that it is likely we will only come together as a planet of peoples when we have a common alien enemy, but why would any extra-terrestrial being want to make first contact with such an immature, short-sighted, barbaric species such as us?

So, back to my lanyard pins.

One is for me. My profession. My role in the world I live in. My ability to be independent, to grow and learn. My small involvement in the success of future generations. My desire to support others to do the same.

One is for the future. A hope. A desire that we learn to live together here on Earth and then develop sufficient understanding of ourselves to start reaching out beyond our own horizon.

Live long and prosper.

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