Would you do that?

We visited the Erebus memorial at Waikumete Cemetery yesterday on the Authentic Leadership Programme. Then we travelled back to Waitakere Estate through the beautiful Scenic Drive and watched a powerful movie of corporate greed and fraud.

Our natural instincts are that we wouldn’t get involved in that sort of activity – we wouldn’t cover up the mishandling of the flight path that might have caused a plane crash – we wouldn’t sacrifice our values and integrity for money, would we?

We’d hope not. But circumstances can make people do things that they wouldn’t think they are capable of. I know, I’ve seen it in multiple fraud cases over the years. When I was at the Serious Fraud Office, most of the people we prosecuted didn’t start out as crooks. But a combinations of circumstances (pressure or greed), opportunity (no one can see) and justification (I deserve it or it’s mine) can turn ordinary, honest men and women into criminals.

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So what to do about it? I think of my values as my valuables – I try not to leave them lying around, I protect them and I know where they are at all times. Of course there’s a lot more to it but that’s a good start.

We should also pay attention to our lies. Sound confronting? Wise leaders are intentionally clear about their communication and don’t use weasel words that allow for mis-interpretation.

As I write this the leaders on the Programme are recording those five ethical considerations that they won’t allow to be compromised. Then they’re drafting a legacy.

One goes with the other.

Stephen

Finding peace in tragedy

I was recently honoured to be asked to read at a funeral. The death was an untimely tragedy. The reading selected by the family was an adaptation from Plato and I thought I would share it here.  Thanks for reading.

Stephen.

iStock-914867858.jpgLet us reflect in another way, and we shall see that there is great reason to hope that death is a good, for one of two things: – either death is a state of nothingness and utter unconsciousness, or, as men say, there is a change and migration of the soul from this world to another.

Now if you suppose that there is no consciousness, but a sleep like the sleep of him who is undisturbed even by the sight of dreams, death will be an unspeakable gain.

For if a person were to select the night in which his sleep was undisturbed even by dreams; and were to compare with this the other days and nights of his life; and then were to tell us how many days and nights he had passed in the course of his life better and more pleasantly than this one, I think that any man, I will not say (just) a private man, but even the great king, will not find many such days or nights, when compared with the others.

Now if death is like this, I say that to die is gain; for eternity is then only a single night.

But if death is the journey to another place, and there, as men say, all the dead are, what good, O my friends can be greater than this? If indeed when the pilgrim arrives, he is delivered to this (new) world, and finds this true. Above all, I shall be able to continue my search into true and false knowledge; as in this world, so also in that: I shall find out who is wise, and who pretends to be wise, and is not. What would not a man give to be able to examine the leaders and numberless others, men and women too! What infinite delight would there be in conversing with them and asking them questions! For besides being happier in that world than in this, they will be immortal, if what is said is true.

Wherefore, be of good cheer about death, and know this of a truth – that no evil can happen to a good man (or woman), either in life or after death. He and his are not neglected by the gods.  But I see clearly that to die and be released was better for me.

Relationship advice from Wayne

Wayne reckons there’s a lot of divorce now. I quipped that not getting married is the best defence to that. Chuckling lightly he went on:

People shouldn’t try and control each other. You do what you want and let other people do what they want.  “I told my wife when we got married that I’m not responsible for her happiness. That’s her responsibility” he said adding that he was responsible for his own happiness too.

If you’re all wound up, don’t take up your issues with me then, and when you’re all wound up “I know you’re not thinking straight and what is said at that time won’t be right“, so take a stroll and have a coffee, then you’ll be right.

iStock-885844632.jpgAnd when you do open your mouth never ever put anyone down. Ever. Think about what you need to say, adjust your tone, make it right for the discussion, and be careful about what you say.

It’s quite simple really, he said, “I’ve helped lots of people with relationship problems and some people have said I should do some courses in relationship counselling“. But I won’t he said, I know what it takes.

Cost me $16.84 for those pearls of wisdom. And he got me home in his Uber too!

Stephen

A Wahine memory

The Lyttelton to Wellington ferry was an important step in holidays to Auckland. As a boy,  the start of the annual trek to Auckland and Stanmore Bay involved a trip through the Lyttelton Tunnel to the ferry. The Lyttelton Tunnel was an exciting entrée to the adventure – so modern and glistening – and you had to pay the toll which made it very special.

iStock-177155389.jpgDriving aboard the ferry was just awesome (actually I confess it still feels just as good on the Cook Strait Ferry), and the ferry was an adventure to behold. I remember one particular trip we had a large cabin for all nine of us with various alcoves and maybe even a bedroom or two. And early morning being awoken by the tea ladies – large I recall in white uniforms – with trolleys of tea and plain milk biscuits. A cup of milk with a biscuit on the side for me.

As a youngster I never quite understood how we went to bed and woke up in Wellington. But you knew you were getting close because you could hear the men removing the chains and ropes that held the cars in place. And the high-rises of Wellington! It was great.

I remembered ships called Maori, Rangatira and Wahine. In researching for this blog I discovered that there were two ships each of those names plus one called Hinemoa that serviced the route over the years. The first Wahine was shipwrecked in 1951 carrying troops to the Korean War.

On 10 April 1968 we were huddled around the radio in the lounge in Prebbleton listening to the devastation as tropical cyclone Giselle hit a southerly front, creating the weather conditions that shipwrecked the Wahine. We had planned to travel on the ferry the same day as the ill-fated Wahine (although not on the Wahine) but had changed the booking to travel the next day, 10 April. It was a very serious feeling that day in the lounge listening to the news, which for us concluded in Mum and Dad deciding we weren’t travelling north that day.  We travelled a couple of days later, presumably past the wreck of the Wahine, although I have no recollection of that. The seriousness of the disaster was not clear to me as a young boy.

Tragically, fifty-one people died that day and two more later, from injuries they suffered.  They were folk just like us, on their own adventures. Lessons were learned and changes made to how ships are built and operated. The New Zealand Court of Inquiry found that errors of judgment had been made, but that the weather was difficult and dangerous. No-one was held personally accountable.

The service stopped in 1974. It was a great shame although the Interislander Service was great too, and still is.

The story isn’t complete for me without reference to the reasons for our travels north – visiting Grandma (and before he died in 1967, Grandpa too) – and all the Auckland relatives on Mum’s side.

I’ve no idea how Grandma coped with all of us in her flat in Sandringham although the bach at Stanmore Bay was probably easier for her. She gets the last word as the great Wahine of those adventures, standing by her front door as we backed out “Lovely to see you come, and lovely to see you go“.

Only years later did I understand.

Stephen

 

In the blink of an eye

I can run, not fast, and I really don’t know if Julian Savea could have made the try on his own down the right hand side running hard up against two Rebels’ players.

But I couldn’t help but notice the difference between him and Ben Lam on the other wing that night.

Savea for all money looked like he could…should!…make it. He glanced and in that millisecond he knew he wouldn’t make it. So did we. Went infield, into contact, and the try was not to be. The Hurricanes still won, so it didn’t really matter.

But I suspect it matters to Savea. Score those sorts of tries and it’s game on for the All Blacks Jersey.

iStock-485876118.jpgGreatness is tested for all of us at moments that we can’t predict. We can plan, practice and strategise but when the moment arrives, the test is upon us. For ordinary people it might be the response to a racist or inappropriate remark – stepping up immediately – to rebut and assert our ethical compass. Or it might be in a meeting where a client has unexpectedly declared the whole exercise futile, and someone needs to lead the response.

These are the moments that test us in the blink of an eye.

I bet we’ve all waivered and we carry that. But when we don’t we know. And so do others.

Stephen

Molesworth

It’s a stunning landscape, a farm, wilderness, mountains, gorges, pylons and plains. No one lives there aside from the DOC Officers and others managing the 180,000 hectare farm, New Zealand’s largest. The Pylons carry the inter-island high voltage power cables.

DSC_5632.JPGThere’s no cellphone coverage and you’re on your own. Driving through this summer was exhilarating and a far cry from the sealed expressways and highways.

Getting away and refreshing during a break takes many forms and each of us has a special place, time or experience that on occasion give us the means to see life with a different perspective. Sometimes it’s a slow burn – a fortnight at the beach – or an overseas holiday in a different culture. Other times it can be a short sharp contrast in an environment that is truly awesome.

Like Molesworth. A new perspective for a new year.

But be careful you don’t get a puncture, although that’s another story for another day!

Happy new year.

Stephen

ps we’re running a session at PwC “Managing Stress and In the Grip Behaviours with MBTI” on 11 April in Wellington and 18 April in Auckland.

 

Grandma’s insight

Lovely to see you come, and lovely to see you go“. So said Grandma in about 1974 after nine of us were about to depart after three weeks or so in her flat and bach. Such harsh words I thought. Surely she was sad to see us go? After all she was quite old I thought and you never know, this could be the last time (turned out she had another 16 years!).

Of course as a boy I didn’t appreciate the stress that a large group of visitors in Grandma’s flat in Sandringham and at her bach in Stanmore Bay might have caused. They were just great holidays. A long road trip from the South Island, beaches, swimming, hot days, sun burn, Waiwera hot pools and barbeques.

I had dear friends stay in the weekend (so in case they’re reading I’m not about to do a Grandma). W12657243_10206633536649957_1152946458479811167_oe cycled, dined, did some gardening and watched movies.

A colleague commented to me the other day that when you’re an extrovert it’s not always straightforward to explain to those close to you that you need downtime. Which I have found to be true.

I’m an extrovert and part of me needs recharging with time alone. More so as I’ve got older (which might be another post).

Thanks to Grandma for the wise leadership insight all those years ago.

Stephen

p.s. this is her in 1979 with my mother. I can imagine she’s smiling from being reminded about this story.