Kain Ramsay, Founder of Achology, gives an inside view on how to pioneer a world movement.
History shows us that the pioneering phase of any new project is usually the most challenging. In this article, I’d like to give you an ‘insiders’ look at what was required to launch an international movement.
We all make errors in life, and how we choose to respond to the mistakes determines how we mature and improve as individuals through the process. As with all things in life, we each have a starting point, and end, and -x- number of years in between which we will each use whatever way we choose. Wisdom arises from making mistakes, facing them, and making the necessary adjustments to prevent ourselves from making them once again.
Many people believe in the idea of helping others in some form, or even in helping themselves to become more effective in the way they ‘show up’ in their day-to-day lives and relationships. In the development years of Achology, as we made mistakes, we had to revisit the main reasons why we started the project, to begin with.
Speaking freely, the last two years have tested me relationally, financially and emotionally, more than I’ve ever been tested before. I’ve discovered that it’s not until we’re wholly outside the comfort zones that we will grow to our absolute potential. Achology is still an acorn, a startup company with much growth to do.
The question we all need to ask sometimes, is how do we maintain our true north, keep our direction and stay true to our values through the process? How do we ensure that the seeds we plant evolve to produce a harvest eventually? Many of us aspire to leave a meaningful legacy behind us once we’re gone, and few of us expect to leave the world the same as it was when we first entered into it. But what are the next steps we must take?
The Primary Mission
As with all things, when our reach doesn’t extend beyond our grasp, we won’t grow. And when we are not clear on our purpose, direction and mission in life, we stand to perpetuate, stagnate, and go around in circles wasting time and making little progress.
For many years, my mission was to build an international network of competent applied psychologists (coaches, counsellors, skilled helpers) who aspire to impact their communities, cultures and nations positively. I have always understood the value of generational investment, where a generation of people passes its wisdom and understandings down unto the next. Achology, the Academy of Modern Applied Psychology allows this information exchange to happen between a centralised group of people from all over the world.
“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. When we teach a man to teach others how to fish, we can end world hunger together.”
This expression originated in Britain in the mid 19th century. Anne Isabella Ritchie, the daughter of William Makepeace Thackeray, wrote a story titled Mrs Dymond, in the mid-1880s. The story includes this line: “If you give a man a fish, he is hungry again in an hour; if you teach him to catch a fish, you do him a good turn. If we can show people how to teach others, we can make a difference.”
Achology is a 2018 startup business and a startup community. Anyone who has pioneered a new startup business before will understand how challenging it can be to direct even a small group of people in one specific direction – never mind an ever-expanding global community. It is the heat of trials and tribulations, where we have a chance to produce something grand or scald ourselves severely. Only by staying true to a predetermined mission can we ensure it is the former and not the latter that happens.
The Biographical Part
I started my working life as a soldier and studied at The Royal School of Military Engineering, where I gained an NVQ in Brickwork Occupations from Kent College. In truth, I retired from bricklaying soon after qualifying. While I never bound to a career of erecting solid constructions, I did learn many time-proven principles that apply to the advancement of our day-to-day lives. An essential principle I’ve learned that relates to building things is this; the scale to which we ‘build-up’ is limited by the sustainability of the foundations we ‘build-on’. This principle is valid in all spheres of life.
I spent the first decade of my working life soldiering, while covertly studying history and Greek philosophy. I travelled the world and was privileged to experience the middle eastern culture, various warzones, natural disasters and unnecessary humanmade disasters. I camped with the Maasai and Samburu in Kenya, negotiated gun-toting border guards in Iraq, I worked beside some of the kindest people I met in Haiti (after the devastating earthquakes of 2010). I’ve breakfasted with the Aboriginal peoples of Western Australia, and I plucked cherries (for cash) with backpackers in New Zealand. I have died twice, lost loved ones, owned money, lost money and ventured from the pit of personal despair to the pinnacle of personal success.
The Lessons of Experience
When I first began examining the social sciences (psychology, sociology, criminology, theology and philosophy), I did so with a genuine desire to better understand myself. I wanted to know who I was, what I was capable of, and also how to live life in a way that wasn’t detrimental to myself or other people. It took me four years of study, self-reflection and devoted practice to find what I was looking for. I didn’t want a head full of academic knowledge to impress people with; I sought to understand the principles that the big thinkers of yesteryear built the grounds of their life on.
In some cultures, there’s an idea that we should actively seek out new knowledge and insights, rather than just adopting documented knowledge from those who’ve gone before us. This idea extends beyond business and even relationship advice. The idea that we should strive to pursue new knowledge must also be applied to matters such as our philosophy, spirituality and emotional maturity. Yes, academic learning is essential to our growth, but learning how to use principles in our daily lives gives us the authority to bestow this wisdom unto others.
The Early Development Years
Achology, as a concept, was born in the local Dunfermline Starbucks cafe. As I sat with my good friend, Julian Young, we talked of an online academy, that wasn’t just a place for learning but was also a place where like-minded people could come together and compare notes of the experience they were growing in. These ‘notes’ were to consist of our members sharing their highs, lows, accomplishments, increases and failures to sustain a community-led training environment instead of the traditional academia led instruction approach that many instructional institutions adopt.
Work started around the kitchen table of the house that Karen and I lived in at the time. We didn’t have much money and required a loan to pay for our first iMac computer. One iMac soon became two as we hand-picked Callum (a young creative genius) to help us edit the vast backlog of training videos that had already been produced. Then came others, and what had once been stand-alone video courses, soon became a well-crafted Achology curriculum.
Julian established the technical platform, which swiftly evolved from being a modest website that hosted video-based courses, to the Academy of Modern Applied Psychology. The platform soon grew to host a forum that continues to evolve each day and an events calendar which sustains community-based learning amidst our worldwide membership. Achology members can host events, workshops, study groups and expert classes. In short, Achology has matured into a one-stop-shop for anyone aspiring to become a competent practitioner of modern applied psychology.
Standing on the shoulders of giants
In my reading and studies, many great minds have helped aid the pioneering of Achology, from Carl Rogers to Albert Ellis, Plato to Gerard Egan (who I had the privilege of working with last year). Latterly intellectual figures such as Julian Baggini, James Turner and A.C. Grayling. For socio-political and economic commentary I’ve reflected upon Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein and Edward Said. I’ve had a fascination with world religion since I was young, although never committed to one specific religious stance or set of practices. I also spent three years studying the Bible to understand many of the historical religious beliefs of my home nation.
In recent years, I’ve grown to appreciate that the most robust foundation we can each build our life’s efforts upon is a foundation of truth. While I remain committed to considering alternative viewpoints and cultural differences, today more than ever before, I embrace the idea that people often respond more to their perceptions than what they do to the nature of reality within itself. I strive to be a student of truth before all things, and this was my original vision for Achology, to house a community of people who are all on their journey towards self-actualisation and maturity of thought.
Looking to the future
History brings us to where we are today. Our trial as developers of Achology is to embody the spirit of helping people with positive intent. We are each primarily motivated by one of three things; to make money for ourselves, to build a reputation, or make a distinct difference in the world somehow. It’s generally those who are committed to making a distinct difference in the world who do.
We look to the day where Achology is a meaningful household brand that stands for the values of integrity, transparency and trust. We aspire to encourage diversity of perspective amidst a culture of honour, personal responsibility and empowerment.
Yes, we have ambitious but achievable objectives. Two years ago, Achology was a concept, and today, Achology is an awesome reality with a global leadership team who are uniformly bound to assuring Achology enters our history books for pioneering an innovative new way that education is delivered, received and applied.
The world is changed through the transformation of one person at a time, and education will forever play a central role in this.