A brief history of marriage

I often use this photograph in story-telling workshops. Dad had it as a worn 6″x4″ in his drawer for years. It was taken outside 125 Queen Street which was then, and until very recently a BNZ building, during a “meet the parents” visit by Dad to Auckland.

Mum and Dad 1952.jpgI asked a colleague with a photography degree if she would restore it, which she did, magnificently. It has held pride of place in Mum and Dad’s hallway since their 55th wedding anniversary ten years ago.

When I first went to use it as a backdrop for a story-telling exercise, the workshop was cancelling on account of the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake and now that event is part of Mum and Dad’s long story together in Christchurch.

Dad’s mother was reluctant to agree to the marriage – he had to wait until he was twenty and didn’t require her consent!

Mum and Dad married in 1952 in the Christchurch Registry Office in Manchester Street, Christchurch. Dad’s brother Colin was best man and a friend of Mum, Shirley Easterbrook, was her bridesmaid.

When you’ve been married 65 years there’s a lot to talk about. In Mum and Dad’s case family, faith, study, careers, holidays, gardening, crosswords, cars and caravans come to mind in an instant. Before that there was motorcycles and tennis. Tennis is still a passion of Mums. And Dad has their garden as beautiful as it has ever been.

It’s difficult to comprehend 65 years together – few do it – the Queen and Prince Philip have done so, and another five years on top. In fact it was in 1952 that then Princess Elizabeth, became Queen.

I’m blessed to have parents, to have parents who have stayed the course, and to have parents who have always been accessible and supportive whilst letting me (and my siblings) get on with our lives.

That’s being a parent.

It’s leadership too and a perfect topic to end 2017 on I reckon.

Happy new year!

 

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

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

Mixing up Reflection and Feedback

When a team is struggling to connect, a bit of courage from everyone involved can make all the difference.

On some recent leadership development work, instead of the participants recording their reflections in private notebooks, everyone put their reflections on flipcharts in the open area.

iStock-504271344.jpg

It took courage and having courage can mean taking a risk. This new process was not without risk and even one team member not being ready could have derailed it.

But this team plainly was ready, and so we took it a step further and had the team members record feedback on each others’ flipcharts.

In doing so, a permanent and meaningful record of a crucible event was created.

I heard after the session that the team has already made great strides.

I’m calling this new process ReflectBackᵗᵐ.  I would welcome the opportunity to use it with your team to cut through challenges you’re having.  Yes, you do need to be brave and I suggest not using it without supervision.

Stephen

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Struggles with change

Man character need help. Vector flat cartoon illustration

It’s trite to say that there’s a lot of change right now. I’ve told myself to stop reading Trump news but I can’t. It’s seems every day brings more deconstruction, as Stephen Bannon calls it, of a democratic government. He seems to be quite reclusive, probably an introvert and if you read what he has to say about the state of the Western World he’s very hostile to immigrants, trade agreements, non-Christians, non-whites, the LGBTQ community. Anyone unlike him.

According to Wikipedia “Bannon was a founding member of the board of Breitbart News, an online far-right news, opinion and commentary website which, according to Philip Elliott and Zeke J. Miller of Time, has “pushed racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic material into the vein of the alternative right“.

I’ve been wondering how a person ends up that. You might also wonder how he ended up as the right hand person to the US President. But that’s not what this is about.

Fear. Bannon is scared. Living through all that change and feeling forced to accept progress and equality when you believe they are poisonous. So now it’s revenge and trying to change the world to stop being scared.

And you thought that Trump feeding his insatiable ego was bad enough.

Ironic Satirical Illustration of a Retro Classic Comics Woman Being a Drama Queen

Change can be scary and leaders should be ready to understand, confront and allay fears. Especially now.

Stephen

 

A conversation

We finished another Authentic Leadership Programme this week with presentations to the participants’ Executive Leadership Team. It was a time of some anxiety: Presentations! Public Speaking! Jerry Seinfeld says that public speaking is the number one fear of most people.  Number two? Dying. So if you’re at a funeral most people would rather be….

But what happens when you decide to have a conversation in lieu of a presentation? Participants speaking about deep experiences from a journey of discovery.

It was really quite simple and at the same time very complex. An authentic conversation is easy, and sounds easy. In leadership development it only comes from a shared experience, a deep examination of self and exploring and identifying one’s leadership strengths and challenges.

An authentic conversation
An authentic conversation

Everyone on the programme should feel proud of where they had got to and for taking a risk with their vulnerability. It paid off and will bring dividends in the years to come.

This programme couldn’t have happened without the enduring wisdom of David Carter who recently moved on. He won’t be stoked that we’re talking of yet another journey, but it was, and a powerful one for which he had a significant role.  Thank you.

Stephen

 

Is that really the best you have?

Ryan Lochte has won 12 Olympic medals, making him the second highest US swimming medal-winner behind Michael Phelps. Lance Armstrong ‘won’ 7 consecutive Tour de France races although he was stripped of the awards after he was found to have cheated. Lochte is not a cheat and this blog is not about being a cheat or not.

Cyclist riding a bike to the sunset on the highway
It’s a great sport

As best as I can ascertain Lochte and others caused some damage to a bathroom in Rio. A security guard who was armed (and may have pulled his weapon) demanded that Lochte and his friends pay for the damage. Lochte fled and complained to the police that they had been robbed at gunpoint. When the actual facts surfaced, Lochte had left Rio.

He apologised to his teammates and said he was “hurt” that they were left in Rio to deal with the consequences. He says he “over-exaggerated” the situation and insists he didn’t lie.

I heard an interview of Armstrong on the radio the other day. If you listen to him talking about his doping, you quickly pick up that the man has not really come to terms with what he did. Armstrong struggles with acknowledging what he has done: “I view this situation as one big lie that I repeated a lot of times,” he said. “I’m sitting here today to acknowledge that and to say I’m sorry for that.”. That’s pretty clear but he also says that without his winning all the cycle races he wouldn’t have raised the profile of cycling to where it is now, nor raised all the millions for cancer sufferers.  True.

At our last Authentic Leadership module we talked about the goldfish bowl effect: leaders are magnified the higher up they go.

The weasel words and justification, abstract apologies to select groups or about things you’ve said, do not properly acknowledge the wrong. They are simply part of trying to minimise what you got caught doing.

If you’ve stuffed up, then acknowledge it and apologise. Leave it for others to find the good in what you did.

Stephen