Carol Craig is Chief Executive of The Centre for Confidence and Well-being. The Centre was founded by Carol after the success of her first book The Scots’ Crisis of Confidence and the well received Tipping Point Event in 2004.
Carol is the driving force of the Centre and is constantly seeking new and innovative ideas to ensure that it maintains its unique and successful role as a leading organisation in the field of Positive Psychology. She speaks regularly at various external events and workshops all over Scotland and beyond as well as speaking at Centre events. Carol has recently written a second book entitled Creating Confidence: a handbook for professionals working with young people that has already generated a great deal of interest and publicity. Her most recent publication (2010) is The Tears that Made the Clyde: Well-being in Glasgow.
I spoke to Carol about her life and sucesses.
I was the first in my family to go to university. I wanted to be a social worker and went to study for a social science degree at Strathclyde University, where I majored in Politics. I went on to postgraduate studies at Edinburgh University’s Politics Department and eventually got a Ph.D on the political and philosophical implications of that great classic ‘The Second Sex’ by Simone de Beauvoir. I then taught politics briefly at Edinburgh University and started to research Scottish political issues.
However, academia wasn’t for me and I left to work in Current Affairs with BBC Scotland. Eventually I became an Education Officer for the BBC, specializing in continuing education. This involved providing the educational back-up for the whole range of further education programmes which the BBC then produced. As part of this work I wrote a paper on the existence, or otherwise, of ‘the glass ceiling’ preventing women from rising in organisations.
This post was then axed but by that time I had trained to become an assertiveness trainer – assertiveness was very fashionable in those days. As I had young children at the time I decided to go freelance when I left the BBC and concentrate on working for myself. I offered a whole range of training including, personal, team and leadership development.
Before I left the BBC I had been closely involved with a group called Action for Women. Essentially it looked at the position of women staff. However, with some other women we went on to look at the gender bias in BBC programming – unfortunately some 20 years on, little has changed as we still don’t see enough women participating in programmes. BBC Scotland had recently appointed a new Controller and he wanted to look more closely at equality so he created an equal opportunity committee and appointed me as the Chair. I continued in this role even after I left the BBC, giving lots of talks and training on gender equality. I found that the vast majority of women were not motivated by money or status, but rather wanted an interesting job where they could come to work and just be themselves. Often the culture of organisations was, and still is, very macho and women often long to express who they are rather than fitting in to this male culture.
I spent the next 15 years running training courses and during this time I became increasingly aware of confidence issues; lack of confidence being particularly acute in Scotland. It was clear to me that the American approach to addressing these issues would not work here as the Scots are generally too sceptical. I decided to write a pamphlet on what I thought needed to be done but ultimately this grew and culminated in the publication, in 2003, of ‘The Scots Crisis of Confidence.’ It took me two years to write and I wrote it with much trepidation as part of the analysis is critical of Scotland. One of my aims was explain why Scotland is so low in entrepreneurs and to understand what attitudes we would need to change to make the culture more enterprising. The book was well received and over 4,000 sold. Argyll Publishing brought out a new edition in 2011.
Following publication I organised an event called “Towards a Confident Scotland’ which brought together people from across sectors of and it became clear to all involved that there were cultural and psychological factors that needed to be addressed in Scotland for us to see improvement in health, enterprise, sport and so forth.
As a result of this event I was asked if I would be interested in setting up an organisation to advance some of my ideas and the Centre for Confidence and Well-being was born in 2005, thanks to financial support from the Scottish Executive and the Hunter Foundation.” We have now suffered a large budget cut and it is more of a virtual centre. We have a huge website with many free resources and operate through a variety of freelance staff and associates.
Over the years we have run some fantastic events such as Scotland’s Tipping Point with Malcolm Gladwell or the Vanguard Programme with Professor Martin Seligman and other international experts. It attracted 300 people, mainly in leadership positions. Our events are never glossy – we don’t give out goody bags or glossy brochures – and we concentrate instead on providing excellent speakers with inspiring or intellectually challenging messages. We have summaries of all these events, and often recordings, available on our website. I have also written another two books in this period – one on young people’s confidence and the other on why Glasgow has such poor well-being.
Although we have reduced funding the Centre is still going strong. We have some great events planned for the next year as well as a book series to stimulate new thinking for Scotland. The Centre is increasingly focusing on how materialist values are now dominating our lives and how detrimental this is to well-being. It is a message which is going down so well with audiences. We are launching a new programme of work called ‘Enlightenment in the Age of Materialism’ at the end of March and this will coincide with the launch of my TED Talk on this theme on the internet towards the end of March 2012.
For further information on the Centre for Confidence and Well-being and Carol Craig’s work go to http://www.centreforconfidence.co.uk