Valuing a lesson from Grandma

She was born 115 years ago today, a Saturday, in Lilydale in Tasmania to parents who had emigrated from England. When she was 17 she caught a ship with a sister, Mary, to Invercargill and made a life in New Zealand, mainly in Christchurch with some time later in Auckland.

Grandma married twice, to Victor who died of cancer in his 40s, but not before they had four boys, all now in their eighties and a daughter Ruth, who died soon after she was born.

Twenty-five or so years later she married Grandad Merrick. He was  lovely man and for me was the grandfather I remembered the most. When he died at 88, Grandma was in her late seventies. I doubt any of us appreciated what Grandma Merrick SCD_0001it meant to Grandma to have someone to love and cherish after so many years alone.  Their ten years together were undoubtedly the best in many years for both of them. I am not certain Grandma ever got over the loss of Ernie, whom she so obviously loved very much.

During their time together they traveled extensively in their Datsun 120Ys, and delighted in retelling the attention the Police gave them whilst hunting for the killer of Mona Blades, apparently last seen in a similar car. They were simply a happy couple in love, enjoying their time together.

She has a special place in my heart to this day.  In her grief for Grandad Merrick she taught me that everyone values someone special.

Stephen

 

 

Year End Resilience

Year End Resilience

The end of the year is close. Feels like it can’t happen soon enough. I’m getting tired and I think lots of us are. A long winter, work pressures and lots going on including for me a house on the market (can’t skip making the bed!).

We had a taster on resilience at work recently.  Physical health, mindfulness and seeking help were some of the key messages.

Coming home this evening a sudden shower on the bike. By the time I got to the Waterview Tunnels I was quite wet, although it was warm. The tunnel was a respite from the rain. 2.8km of dry, I imagined I was on the Autostrada in northern Italy (although I wasn’t riding quite fast enough!) driving from Avignon to Florence – tunnel after tunnel.

Mindfulness is a valuable practice. It can help us to manage anxiety, achieve tasks and lead to a greater sense of worth and contentment.

Add a bit of “Golden Age thinking” to your repertoire I reckon.  A kind of mindfulness about pleasant experiences in the past.

The moments in the tunnel on the Autostrada led me to a walk after the rain – reminiscing about Paris and my favourite film, Midnight in Paris.

Didn’t feel so tired afterwards.

Stephen

Blaming leadership

Israel Egypt border fence in the Negev and Sinai desertsActually the title is an oxymoron. But we’re seeing a lot of blaming in political leadership. Trump is an obvious example. Started his campaign for US President by blaming Mexicans for real or imagined woes.  The solution was a wall. Almost daily he seems to have crises that are to be blamed on others – staff, the Democrats, the media is popular – without any sense of personal responsibility.

There’s actually two sorts of blaming that Trump is involved in. The first is blaming groups of people for societal problems. The second is blaming groups of people or individuals as the case may be, for day-to-day issues.

The former is the most serious and we owe it to ourselves to be constantly vigilant to protect our freedom and democracy. Trump justified his initial blaming of Mexicans with dubious comments about crimes they have committed.

We have a new government in New Zealand. At the heart of this government is a strong signal that immigrants and foreigners are to blame for transport congestion, house prices and struggling infrastructure. It’s an attractive scenario on the face of it. If we’ve let too many people into the country or let them own assets without properly equipping ourselves for it, then it’s got to stop.

But it’s a very slippery slope. When the Labour Party produced it’s list of Chinese-sounding names of house buyers there was an outrage. Some Chinese families have been here since the early 19th century. But more significantly, it was simply racial profiling, the likes of which we hadn’t seen from a political party since Muldoon’s Samoan overstayer crackdown in the 1970s.

Labour is now as one with NZ First in cutting immigration to fix problems that immigrants have allegedly caused. The solution is not going to be a wall, but paperwork at the border at Auckland International Airport in Mangere.

Now is the time for leaders everywhere to stay vigilant to protect those being blamed.

Stephen

 

Leadership Islands

Onetangi Beach Waiheke Island New ZealandI spent a rewarding (and mostly very sunny) two days on Waiheke Island last week with a leadership team. The team is usually spread out over the main cities and rarely, if ever, physically gets together.

There were some initial jokes about the circle of chairs in the room and, as I try to do, there were no slides, no notes, only a loose agenda, and lots of talking.

By the time the two days drew to a close the team had taken over. I deliberately stepped back, allowing the team to develop their own plans for the future.

Everyone spoke, there were no silos and I’m hoping a big forward step has been taken in how this team operates and their combined leadership.

When facilitating you need to try and notice when people in a group aren’t connected which can be challenging as it’s easy to mistake activity for colleagueship.

Facilitation is about bringing out the best in others and ensuring that all parties are connected and working for a common purpose. When you see it in that way it’s easy to see that leadership is really a lot about facilitation.

On the Thursday evening at Waiheke, Winston Peters announced his coalition government. In his own words he did it without a conversation with one of the two parties he will be in Government with.

That’s either genius – some new form of leadership yet untried – or something else which will require a new form of facilitation involving a shared purpose where bits of the team don’t actually engage.

I’m pretty sure it’s not genius! Setting up a new team requires ground rules, communication, a common purpose, and the open sharing of aspirations and issues.

The team that met at Waiheke exhibited and committed to all these things. The new government might need some time out soon to do the work they should have done prior. Maybe Raoul Island might be a place to start!

Stephen

 

Imagine if Trump lived here!

Imagine if Trump settled in New Zealand. Shiny white teeth and big hair, he’d toy with an election or two, but not really go anywhere, then when the moment was right, leap to the top.

Crowds would gather on Wynyard Wharf “Trump for PM!” on their T-shirts. Massive promises would be made, probably about things that were already underway or not possible.

Supporters would have a crack at Bill English – after all he represented all that was wrong with politics – which was mainly that it was way too boring, like Hillary. That wouldn’t be the main accusation though. Trump’s supporters would drag up some ancient email server-type scandal – say Bill’s housing allowance – that was, like Hillary’s emails, thoroughly investigated and dispatched. Criminal! You’d see it all over social media “Should be in Jail!”. Trump would remain silent on the issue as his supporters were doing all the heavy lifting. He’d know very well that whatever the truth of the matter, if you said it loud enough it became the truth.

He’d look for an enemy. Farmers would be a good start – after all they wreck the environment and drive Range Rovers – “Tax their water!” and throw in Chinese water-bottlers, who, despite using only 0.01% of NZ’s water were a convenient reach out to those who have supported racist policies. Full-blown attacks on immigrants would come later. Like the manufacturing job losses back home, he’d work out quickly that it was also the Chinese here who were responsible for New Zealand’s housing and and related poverty woes. And obviously Bill and his mates were in cahoots with them and got donations from them, no doubt.

The debates would be planned. He’d be new and exciting against boring (CRIMINAL!) Bill. His supporters would start campaigns against the media. On-line campaigns would rage to have any debate hosts who didn’t support him removed. Supporters would find a local news outlet that supported Bill and do a Clinton Network News on them, so to speak.  Maybe “National’s Boring Rag” would work!

Bill would bring his mate Sir John in to help. Just like Hillary who tried rolling President Clinton out.  Wouldn’t work though, the title would be like a red rag to a bull. “Another CRIMINAL!” his supporters would scream “wrecked the country and left with all our money!”. They’d allege he was responsible for a death somewhere just to spice it up.

His supporters, not initially natural allies of anti-immigrant and other populist policies, would subtly, then openly, embrace populist political parties. After all, there’s a criminal bunch on the other side who have absolutely wrecked the country, and we need their votes to bring the messiah to power. A small price to pay!

Might be a bit more interesting to what we usually have which is pretty boring, safe and secure.

Never happen though. We’re much too nice a people.

Have a great weekend.

Stephen

Nothing happens to us in the future

We’re readying ourselves for the start of another Authentic Leadership Programme. A new venue, new faces and some new ideas. An invigorated Programme.

We’ve been looking forward to this for some time and a lot of hard works has gone it to get prepared and today it arrives.

Planning is incredibly important to get us to where we want to be, and if we don’t plan and execute we can be reasonably confident we won’t get where we want to.

Slow living concept. Inspiration motivation quote Be here now.

However, in leadership development, it’s important to recognise that new insights can often be immediately put into practice and that’s what we’ll be encouraging our seventeen participants to do from today.

As a friend of mine said recently, “you don’t die in the future, it’s now”. Sobering, but a powerful reminder of taking action now, when we can.

Stephen