We were introduced to the Star Thrower story by you and Joel and were able to share our experiences at an EFG conference in Erie, Pennsylvania. The experience changed us.  We started up the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Total Quality Forum which became Sheffield Excellence to bring principles of TQM and performance to small businesses.  My own organisation, Royal Mail (British Post Office), was pioneering TQM in the British public sector and through our benchmarking work we engaged with the principles of Excellence and the EFQM Excellence Model a derivative of the Malcolm Baldrige framework.  I used the knowledge gained in Erie with its Community Quality Council, to help develop the community quality strategy for Royal Mail.

I went on to promote the principles of excellence to the public sector of Europe ending up as director of organisational excellence at my local Sheffield Hallam University.  There were many ups and downs working in a challenging academic environment but the principles of customer and staff feedback were embedded along with values based leadership and process, project and programme management.

The journey continues.  Having been introduced to mindfulness by a retired university colleague, I became a mindfulness teache.  We co-founded the Centre for Mindful Life Enhancement and have now trained over 500 people in mindfulness including some on courses for local organisations.  Mindfulness seems a logical extension of the work we did in quality and excellence and our government is encouraging its introduction in across the public and private sectors schools, hospitals and universities.  Progress is slow though.

Our Mindfulness Based Life Enhancement programme introduces people to mindfulness practices, the  key principles of positive psychology and topics such as compassion, loving kindness, empathetic joy and equanimity. 

Studying for a Masters degree in mindfulness at the Univeristy of Aberdeen, I was able to reflect back on the work with you and the Star Thrower story and the work we had done in quality and excellence.  It is about making a difference, noticing where things aren’t right in organisations, doing something about it and then sustaining that.  This is really at the root of continuous improvement. 

I also found that Lauren Eiesley’s Star Thrower story ends with these words:

..."On a point of land, I found the star thrower...I spoke once briefly. "I understand," I said. "Call me another thrower." Only then I allowed myself to think, He is not alone any longer. After us, there will be others...We were part of the rainbow...Perhaps far outward on the rim of space a genuine star was similarly seized and flung...For a moment, we cast on an infinite beach together beside an unknown hurler of suns... We had lost our way, I thought, but we had kept, some of us, the memory of the perfect circle of compassion from life to death and back to life again - the completion of the rainbow of existence"

(adapted from The Star Thrower  Eiseley 1978  p.184 and 2014).

You are not alone Barbara. You are the Star Thrower and you continue to make a difference.  And there are others.

With gratitude


Mike Pupius

Centre for Mindful Life Enhancement