April 29, 2012
I’ve been hearing quite a lot lately about the desire to be Number One. “My goal is to get to the top” or “I want to be number one”. Ambition can drive us to achieve remarkable things both in leadership roles and in our personal quests. What comes first: the goal to get to the top or the the desire to achieve or do the things that can make a difference at the top?
I was fortunate enough to be at a function recently where graduating students were having their final celebrations. Prizes were awarded for top marks. Speeches were made about achievement.
I have goals, both personal and professional and those goals help to guide my actions and, I hope, the meaning that my actions bring. Striving to achieve a goal can bring real focus and attention to what matters, not just doing the “things” that need to be done.
If my only goal was to be “number one” for whatever that means, now might be a good time to pause and reflect on what it will mean to be top dog; who is it for; and what purpose can only be achieved by getting to this place.
I might also think about who I’m wanting to be Number One for. And think about who is watching and why I need them to notice that I’m going for the top.
Not much was said in the achievement speeches about doing what has purpose and making a difference through new skills. Or leading others to grow. I left with a feeling that what was admired was the pursuit of going to the the top over and above what that might mean.
Being number one. We already all are in our own world. Wise leaders know that and use what they bring to add meaning and purpose to those around them.
Without worrying about what others are thinking about position or title.
April 27, 2012
At the end of the movie “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” the character played by Dame Judi Dench implores us to spend our lives, no matter what stage we’re at, in doing those things that matter to us, that give us meaning and purpose.
I’m writing this on the plane after twenty four hours in Dunedin. Tonight is a function, tomorrow a half marathon and at least two more trips in the next 10 days. In between there are reports to finalise, emails to respond to and an over full week ahead. Sound familiar?
I’m not the most relaxed flyer but some seriously concentrated conditioning over the last three months has gone a long way to cure that! But the flight, if nothing else, gives me time too breathe and relax. And think about purpose.
I try to live with purpose and meaning for those things that matter to me and try to ensure that those things take priority. Right now I’m finding thinking about purpose incredibly difficult with the intensity and pressure of multiple works obligations.
I console myself that the work is of course part of my purpose. Which it is. But it ain’t everything.
So I’m giving myself two extra flights to wish my Mum a happy birthday in person. She’s 81 and living in her Marigold Hotel with Dad as they should be!
Now that’s something that matters.
April 16, 2012
“I hope that the journalists present here report only the absolute truth,” said Ri Jinju, her voice trembling, her hair frozen with hairspray. “The truth about how much our people miss our comrade Kim Jong Il, and how strong the unity is between the people and leadership … to build a great, prosperous and powerful nation.” so it was reported in the NZ Herald this week as the journalist’s bus inadvertently took the wrong road on the carefully managed tour in North Korea.
It’s the 193rd richest country per capita in the world. Which I guess makes it close to the poorest country in the world. South Korea is 40th, New Zealand 48th. It has a little over 700 km of paved roads, New Zealand over 68,000 km. So when I read tonight that the new leader of this sad place said it had built a “mighty military” capable of both offence and defence in any type of modern warfare, it really struck me at how serious demented and deluded leadership can have such serious implications for those being led (nowhere!). The whole drama of a family handing down its power and treating its dead former leaders like some sort of Messiah is very Monty Pythonesque. But I guess, that it really is quite serious, not just for the danger to the region but to all the poor starving people who have to live there.
The hired help who lived on the 6th floor in the French movie “The women on the 6th floor” know a bit about narcissistic leadership too. Confined to tiny rooms with no facilities and a shared, permanently blocked, toilet they work tirelessly without complaint. It’s 1962. When one of “the bossess” ventures to their living quarters he discovers as much about himself as he does about the women.
Perhaps Kim Jo Un should take the road the Western Journalists went down and ask himself, like the Boss who visited the 6th floor, “what I am really doing to these people?”.
Leader? Yeah right!.
A delightful movie, with a Whatever Works theme about it.