Driving seemed more interesting

Driving seemed more interesting

Not long after I left school I went with Mum to the University of Canterbury to enrol in a BCom.  It was at the reasonably new Ilam campus. I had studied accounting and economics at school and thought that being an accountant might be a good idea, and Mum and Dad were keen too.

We enrolled. From memory the annual cost was $108 – that might not be the exact figure – but it’s in my mind for some reason. Maybe $115?  Anyway, it wasn’t much and the fee included the Student Union charge, and all papers.

Not long after that I got hold of a Police recruitment brochure. It was a colourful landscape booklet with photographs of driving fast, shooting, putting someone in a headlock and plenty of physical activity. It must have appealed more than the BCom because I applied and after interviews, tests and background checks no doubt, I was accepted into the Prince of Wales 25th Cadet Wing at the New Zealand Police College.

It was 11 months of training: marching, the law, giving evidence, typing, report writing, dealing with domestic disputes, handling death, basic crime scene work, physical training and lots more.  The Police had a real sense of belonging and I feel my time “in the job” served me well for what followed.

iStock-459908461.jpgBut it always bugged me a bit that I didn’t complete my BCom and the accountancy that would have followed. I commenced another BCom near the end of my time in the Police, and later, when it was reasonably obviously unnecessary for my career, I pursued other study, supported by the SFO.

Later, becoming a partner in what some say is an “accounting firm” where I am now brought new life to the memories. 

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So, earlier this month when I attained the professional certification to be an accountant it was far more rewarding than I had imagined.

While you’re still upright it’s never too late to live your dream.

Go for it!

Stephen

The Mule

The Mule

The Mule is a 2018 film directed, produced and starring the 88 year old Clint Eastwood. He plays an older man called Earl Stone, a horticulturist who specialises in Lily cultivars. I couldn’t help but think of my Dad, of similar age, healthy and energetic and life-long horticulturist.

But there, fortunately (!), the similarities end. Earl has a problematic relationship with his family – he’s focussed only on the Lilies and related events – and sacrifices family and family events for his passion.

Earl becomes, unwittingly a mule, running cocaine across country for a Mexican Drug cartel. Any more information and I’ll have to put a spoiler alert out, but it’s beautifully filmed, and very tense.

iStock-491697130.jpgHe’s a man without the filters of needing to prove anything which is why he’s such a successful mule.

In the end, the film is about family, time and paying attention to the relationships that matter to you. You can buy anything almost, but not time.

I wonder if the film is intended to be cathartic for Eastwood – he reportedly has eight children from several relationships – and one of his daughters plays his on-screen daughter.

A gripping, at times funny, film with a strong message and a typical Eastwood ending that isn’t feel good but kind of is.

Enjoy*.

Stephen

*Time with those that matter.

Relaxed new leadership

Relaxed new leadership

We started with twenty new leaders on the Authentic Leadership Programme a few days ago.

By the time the first lunchtime rolled around it felt like we had already made great progress. We’d learned some new insights about each other and the three teams put together had developed a charter for the work they will do together over the coming months.

In the afternoon we focussed on ourselves. We learned quite a bit about ourselves from the leadership tools used, including powerful 360 feedback.

Not all feedback is easy to receive, but all the leaders on our Programme received very positive comments as well as work ons. Most people focus on the work ons without paying too much attention to the good stuff.

iStock-947115926.jpgThe two days felt quite relaxed but you can never underestimate what’s going on when you put aside two days to start of journey of discovery. At the conclusion of the two days there were lots of commentson how special it is to have time out to reflect.

It’s very tempting to keep piling content into leadership development. The art is to have sufficient for stimulus, but leave plenty of time for reflection and self-work.

When it’s relaxed there’s a good chance you’ve got the balance about right.

Stephen

Back to Tintin for breakfast

Back to Tintin for breakfast

I caught up with a relative over brunch on Saturday. It was a meandering chat over porridge and coffee.

We talked about family, fashion, housing, Tintin and some reminiscing of times long past.

I’m not sure how we got onto Tintin, but we reminded ourselves that he was ageless – stayed the same over decades of stories – but the stories moved with the times.

There are lots of connections between the stories. Obvious ones that are one story in two books like Destination Moon followed by Explorers on the Moon. Others are not so direct: The Crab with the Golden Claws and The Blue Lotus, about drug runners.

Tintin is one of the first books I can remember. I borrowed them from the Christchurch Public Library, in the old brick building that once housed the Library on Cambridge Terrace near Hereford Street.

The stories are rich in meaning, thoroughly researched with events of the time depicted – fascist Europe in King Ottokar’s Sceptre – and beautifully drawn. I love the trains, cars, boats and outsize characters and never tire of reading the 62 pages in each story one more time.

My personal favourite is The Crab with the Golden Claws, a classic detective story, and where Tintin first meets Captain Haddock.

I could talk all day about Tintin. It’s been a life-long pleasure.

He’s a great investigator with a cool head and a sense of adventure like no one else.

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Timeless, just like all good stories.

Stephen

 

201

201

I appear to have picked up some more followers, or at least followers who have noticed, because I’ve blogged about walking and related adventures, such as Cornwall Park.

The most common subject I hear in the leadership world right now is about well-being. It’s a broad subject and seems to cover physical and mental health when it is referred.

We all know it’s important to be in good health, so why the increased consciousness about well-being now?

I did my 201st walk last week for 2019. I probably won’t make 400, but they’re longer now, so maybe 365 is a good goal!

iStock-950716438.jpgWell-being is really about satisfaction, happiness or contentment. You chose the word that suits.

I’m not particularly satisfied that I’ve completed 201 walks, but I am increasingly happy and content from the energy, space and health that those 201 walks have provided me with.

And you can do it almost anywhere.

Stephen

 

Sustaining development

Sustaining development

I was privileged recently to interview a number of participants of past programmes for a short video. We didn’t know what they were going to say, although it’s fair to say that if you agree to go on video you probably have positive things to say!

Be that as it may, it was amazing to hear the ongoing benefits from authentic leadership development being embedded long after the work on the programme had concluded. As I’ve said in the past, leadership development can get a bad rap for adopting a “sheep dip” and/or “break ‘em down to build them up” approach, something we do our best to avoid.

The answer is to give the development time. Time on programme, time back at work to practice and reflect, more time on programme, time to embed an ongoing reflection habit, and then allow sufficient space for participants to own the development opportunities presented to them.

iStock-1039315630.jpgOne of those I interviewed referenced the Leadership Walk as being one of the most powerful parts of her development. She didn’t call it by our anointed name, but the meaning she took out of it and then applied back at work was very gratifying to hear. Another said that the most powerful feedback moment he took was, well, about feedback. He has adjusted how and when he gives feedback to his team and said it’s made a material difference to his team leadership.

Whether we’re on a programme or just genuinely focussed on pushing our own development, giving ourselves space between learnings to reflect, try new stuff, embed and try again, is vital.

That creates a sustained leadership development journey, whether that be a formal or informal process.

Stephen

 

Bringing nothing

Bringing nothing

I recently ran the Leadership vs Management public workshop series again in Wellington and then Auckland. Don’t tell anyone, but the title is a bit of a misnomer. The workshop is more about what key leadership attributes are, with story-telling at its heart.

We don’t have a slide deck, and very minimal written resources. The few slides that there are, are laminated and affixed to the wall, mainly as prompts for a story I might tell.

It occurs to me that someone will (and should!) challenge me on the model or models of leadership that are to be learned on the workshop and then followed by the participants. At the conclusion at one of the workshops in this series we did a final round of learning nuggets. One participant, who had been reasonably quiet, said that it was a highlight that we had not come with leadership models for us to learn and apply. She expressed relief. I was somewhat relieved too – as facilitator you try your best to match everyone’s needs in the room – but you don’t always know whether you’re hitting the mark.

The thinking behind my approach is actually built on what I think it a fundamental truth of leadership moments. What you have in the room at any given moment is it. When you embrace that premise, you will gain the best of those present for any decision or leadership challenge that needs to be met. Don’t imagine that there’s a mysterious person who has the special insight, the ultimate responsibility, or the magical solution.

Close-up on discussion.What you have at that moment is it.

So in our workshops we bring very little. You have to believe that the people that attend have all the leadership insights, stories and motivations to make a great success of this particular moment in their leadership journey. And they always do.

You just have to trust.

Stephen