What happened next? With Libby McGugan

Whilst we plan for this years event, we took the time to catch up with Libby McGugan, who spoke at TEDxGlasgow 2015, to find out what she has been up to since.

It’s been two years since your TEDxGlasgow 2015 talk ‘Intentional medicine – shifting the focus of healthcare’. Tell us a little about the work you have been doing since, at University of Strathclyde. 

TEDx has been an amazing platform to connect with people. Over the past 2 years I’ve been continuing to learn from individuals and from emerging research in neuroscience and psychology. The science around this is fascinating, and I’ve been running workshops around how patterns of thinking influence wellbeing. I’ve also been working with a team of innovators looking at how we can use technology to help people focus on wellbeing, so it’s a really exciting time.

What changes and growth in your area of expertise would you like to see in the next few years? 

Empowering people to take more control in their health is becoming the zeitgeist of the NHS, if for no other reason than that the current system is unsustainable. It would be great to see a greater awareness of how much influence people can have over their own wellbeing, and to see more health professionals facilitate this.

We also hear that you have been working up in Aberdeen with HorsebackUK. What has been your involvement with the Charity? 

HorsebackUK is a Scottish based charity which rehabilitates people using natural horsemanship. It was originally set up to help veterans with physical disability or PTSD – people who are well enough to be discharged from hospital, but no longer have employment or more importantly, a sense of purpose. Jock Hutchieson, founder and CEO is passionate about facilitating the core of wellbeing – a sense of purpose, social connection and human skills like kindness, compassion, patience, through working with the horses. It’s been highly successful and the remit has widened to help people in the broader community, including the local school. There are countless testimonials which illustrate its success, and I’m working with the team to examine the results using a validated wellbeing scoring system. The results are hugely encouraging.

Where does your fascination with the medical world come from? 

I grew up with a fascination for how the body works, probably because my dad was an armchair scientist, and I shared his wonder for a whole spectrum of science, from quantum physics to medicine. I was a bit of a geek, doing projects on ‘the human body’ in my spare time at school, and I went into medicine wide-eyed about the magic of how it all works. It’s something I think we forget – if we had to consciously control all the processes our bodies take care of, we’d fizzle out. It’s mind-blowing. Neuroscience is entering a new era and I think we’re just scratching the surface of our understanding of what’s possible. I suspect we’ll see significant changes in our approach to healthcare in the not too distant future.

You’re also known as a writer amongst other things. Does that stem from the same place? 

The writing really happened by accident. I suppose it came from that same fascination with science at a young age – the implication of what physicists are telling us about the quantum world is ripe ground for imagination. Actually, what they’re telling us is weirder than anything we could make up. The story grew from concepts around that. It was also a personal exploration into the dichotomy of science and spirit – I grew up with a catholic mother and an atheist father, so it made me ask lots of questions!  Writing is fun – it’s like having a party in your own head.

After being nominated as Newcomer of the Year in the 2014 Fantasy Awards, do you have plans for your next book’s release? 

The second book, The Fifth Force, is written and recently edited, and at the moment I’m exploring whether to self-publish this one. So if anyone has any suggestions…

It seems you have been keeping yourself more than busy and were spotted at this year’s Celtic Connections in Glasgow last month. What brought your band Fika Collective together?

Yes, we had a lot of fun playing there! It started with a couple of fellow fiddle-playing friends who share a love for Scandanavian music. We started a session in a great local café last May – For Fika’s Sake Café in Partick, (run by a very socially aware and forward thinking owner) – and it’s grown from there. There’s such a rich traditional music scene in Glasgow – lovely people with incredible talent, and it’s a privilege to play music with them.

You really have a knack for conquering the most complex of things. The theme of this year’s TEDxGlasgow is Lead or Follow. Do you have any thoughts you’d like to share on this?

Ha! I’m just a bit stubborn / obsessive about sticking with things that fascinate me or that I enjoy. As for Lead or Follow, from what I understand good leaders lead from the back, and they don’t set out to be leaders. They just stay aligned to a vision they see that can improve things in some way, and they use setbacks as something to learn from, so they become resilient. There’s always something to learn so I think even great leaders have to know how to follow. They have to be both.

Like what Libby has to say? Sharing amazing ideas like hers is what TEDxGlasgow strives to do. Why not get involved and come along to this year’s event? You’ll have the chance to hear people from all walks of life share their story and take away some inspiration for driving change. Standard and concession tickets available for purchase here.

  • Written by Mhairi O'Neill
  • Posted on February, 18 2017

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