Angry men out of control

You might think that if you’d just won the election for the most powerful position in the world you’d be reasonably content (assuming that’s what you wanted). Recently, Donald Trump appeared to get angry because people at the musical Hamilton booed his deputy (it’s comical – politician gets booed (that’s never happened before), goes running, upset, to Uncle Donald who in turn demands an apology via an early morning tweet – really!).

In South Auckland, a church leader, Brian Tamaki had a rant about earthquakes being caused by gays. If it wasn’t for the tragic consequences of Kaikoura Earthquake for the victims it might be comical too, tectonic plates et al.

Finger pointing.Whatever the leader’s area of influence he or she can’t control everything. Or even want to you’d hope. Control is a necessary resource for a leader to use sparingly as and when required.

These two examples might be ridiculous and even funny. But they’re deadly serious. The leader-elect of the free world endeavouring to bully critics into silence (btw, it’s a democracy). A leader of a church stigmatising and abusing an entire community (and those in support including families) based on sexual orientation.

Angry men out of control have been known to do unconscionable things to get their own way.

Leadership is a privilege. When it’s abused to undermine democracy and freedom in any form we owe it to ourselves to speak up and declare it unacceptable.

Stephen

 

Sacrificing your reputation for short term gain

When I visited and stayed at the FBI Academy at Quantico, Virginia in 2000 before 9/11 I was issued with an access card to get around the facility. Part way through the stay I mislaid the card. I went to the public reception and a harried receptionist thrust a box of cards at me. “Take what you need“she said, so I reissued myself with a card and carried on. She had no idea who I was, whether I was entitled to be there, whether I should have access or if I did what my purpose was. You wouldn’t have needed a leaker inside to find the secrets of the FBI then!

I assume things are a bit tighter now. It certainly seems that way traveling through LA.

Since the FBI Director James Comey released information that a batch of emails on an unrelated investigation may be relevant to Hillary Clinton (but that he had no actual idea whether or not they were), it’s come out that FBI Agents have been leaking information to the media because they dislike Clinton.

The FBI has always held a special place in the world of law enforcement. It has led and continues to lead, many facets of forensics – in fraud, technology, weaponry – and the physical environment. It has shown itself to be impartial, thoroughindependent and thorough.

That deserved reputation has been built up over decades by thousands of Agents on thousands of case.

That reputation is at serious risk right now, and may be damaged for some time if the allegations of leaking and partiality prove to be true (or even not disproven).

Whatever you might have in your trust bank can unwind a great reputation quickly by hasty actions in the heat of the moment. For law enforcement independence is often the first thing that fails.

Whatever your big thing is, treasure it and don’t give it up for short term gain.

Stephen

 

 

Mortal

It was Aunty Joy’s funeral last week. Uncle Ken’s a month or so back. A couple. Parents, grandparents, great grandparents, sister, cousin, Aunty, Uncle. And more, much more.

Their lives were so eloquently and movingly paid tribute to at their respective funerals by family. I struggle to add to it.

Two family members gone so close to each other. I said to Dad as we went in for Aunty Joy’s funeral service that it felt raw. We could still feel it from Uncle Ken’s service. Any sense we felt pales of course – from immediate family – who showed remarkable resilience and grace.

Young girl hiker on mountain trail
What is your next adventure?

If there’s any good to come it’s a strong reminder of living now, in the present and embracing every moment. Friends come and go, work is ever present and will never be complete, the things we have or want don’t really matter, and you need to live now with what you have. Start your next adventure.

And if you have even half the things said about you at your funeral service that were said about my Aunty and Uncle, you will have lived.

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

 

Look after your stuff

Taking responsibility for what comes your way too.

I’m back to Mum’s 85th birthday again. After a lovely lunch at Dux Dine (where Mum and Dad are regulars) we assembled in a corner of the restaurant for photographs and words. Thinking about what I was going to say to Mum I noticed she grabbed all her cards and gifts together in a neat pile and clutched them tightly.

Look after your own stuff. Make things happen for yourself. Take responsibility for your own actions and if you want something then find your own way to get it. That’s Mum.

She’s a great Mum and firm and compassionate all at once. Direct too. “About time you bought a house” she said once. She was right and I did. If only more people knew she predicted the Auckland housing market long before it was even talked about!

DSC_5554

A fine leadership example.

I like taking responsibility for achieving something myself – they’re the best achievements you can ever have.

Stephen

ps I got a lovely thank you card after the birthday too. That was a nice surprise.

Never forgotten

As I recall Victor was a tall and athletic boy. Like me, he lived in Linwood Ave, just up the road and we were friends from school. Unlike me he was fine rugby player. Visiting the Harris’ house after school to play was a treat – there were different toys and things to do and Mrs Harris was always pleased to see me.

In 1976 Victor started at Linwood High School along with my other good friend Nigel while I went to Shirley Boys’. On a Saturday in early March Nigel, Victor, Victor’s father and some others were up near Hanmer along the Hurunui River when a rock or similar came down and struck Victor on the head and he fell into the river.

He died at the scene.

It would have been Victor’s birthday last weekend and despite the 40 years past I still remember him on his birthday.

Life is short, but Victor’s was way too short. I remember the funeral – sitting near the back at the chapel in the Crematorium at Bromley in Linwood Ave. It seemed surreal. I was probably too young to fully understand.

I also remember visiting Mrs Harris with Mum. She seemed amazingly composed and at peace. Nigel is still in touch with the Harris’ and he tells me they are at peace about Victor.

Never underestimate the power of reflection. It’s taken me 40 years, but I’m pleased to have said something about Victor. A great friend and never forgotten.

Stephen

A top up for happiness

If life has any meaning, it’s probably happiness.

Mum turned 85 recently and from a possible 39 direct descendants (which for the record includes one husband, children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and spouses thereof) we had 26 for lunch in Christchurch. She’s a similar age to the Queen with her birthday in the same month, and we couldn’t help but notice she was sporting a real royal haircut too!

13043350_10153578064888683_7547908930913175859_nWe had lunch, some gifts were given and words were said and it was back to Mum and Dad’s for a slide show put together by Dad. There’s a lot to capture in 85 years and Dad did a great job of a selection from Mum’s 80th, their 60th wedding anniversary and a top up from the last few years. We laughed and marvelled at the haircuts and the fashion, and of places been.

A great top up of happiness.

13226773_10153613046988683_2596308080632854044_nMy son Thomas graduated with his Master of Science last week. The hard work for him seems to me to be long ago and it would be easy to be cynical about the graduation event – a lot of pomp and ceremony just to pick up a certificate. Like Mum’s 85th it brought family together. Great happiness and I’m pretty proud of my big boy too. Data Scientist extraordinaire.

You don’t have to accept my proposition about life’s meaning, but you sure can find some happiness in the simplicity of family, in whatever form that takes for you.

Stephen