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. 

iStock-966370562.jpg

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

Being late

Being late

If you’re like me you get your energy as the deadline approaches. Creativity kicks in and you do your best work under pressure. Every leadership programme or workshop I facilitate has people just like me in this respect. They are quite proud of what they can do in a short time frame and how much spare time they have for other things.

iStock-484068566.jpg

Dig a little deeper and most late starters have a level of stress that they know they could do without. Meeting work and other’s deadlines, finding no contingency time.

I (and others) try and trick me into leaving with enough time for appointments by putting in fake early starting times. It seldom works as I know. The other day I had a medical appointment. I arrived 15 minutes early thinking good, the fake entry worked. Turned out I was 45 minutes early as I’d faked my own fake time! So I settled into do some work and ten minutes later was called and was all done and out in another 10 minutes.

It was a surprisingly refreshing experience for me. There’s a good chance you’ll be thinking that this is normal. True for many people, but not for everyone.

You see them running into meetings late, functions at the last moment, joking at personal appointments about the traffic and so on.

If you get your energy and creativity from the deadline, I reckon hold on to that but look over the fence and for everything else find some calm and order in early arriving and getting started when you, deep down, know you should!

For an entertaining but ultimately very serious version of my epiphany try this Ted Talk. Even if you don’t think this is you, watch right to the end – it might be!

Stephen

Car history

Car history

Sometime in the next five or six years there’ll be a tipping point. Electric cars will be like CDs after records or Netflix after DVDs. Suddenly you’ll realise the old is out and the new doesn’t feel new, it’s just normal. I expect I’ll own an electric car one day soon. I quite look forward to it, however, I think I’ve left it too late to be an early adopter as I was with my E-bike (which I’ve reintroduced myself to lately – so good!).

In an episode of Comedians in Cars getting Coffee Jerry Seinfeld declares “How you can not notice and appreciate cars is beyond my comprehension“. He’s driving a 1965 Porsche 356 in green. One from his own collection by the sound of it.  Next episode he’s driving an Alfa Romeo Giulia Super, circa 1970.  He said it was a “barn find” in Italy.  Both vehicles beautifully restored.  A Fiat 600 Multipla followed. So cute!

Anyway, so when we’re all driving electric cars,  will we be allowed to have an old sort of car? Probably yes, and hopefully on the road too – especially for weekend trips.

iStock-1024263392.jpg

So I wonder if it’s time to get a future classic or two for those road trips in the weekend when petrol stations are as rare as car charging stations – plenty around but they’re not obvious unless you are looking – and most cars are much the same (or even more so).

It’ll be a different world, and many significant global challenges face the planet in the  immediate future.  Who hasn’t got a bit of anxiety about what’s in front of us?  But you have to believe that there will be time and space for things that provide contentment.

I’m counting on a weekend road trip in a classic.

Stephen

p.s. they’re Alfa Romeo Giulia Super cars in the header photograph

 

Leaving home is hard

After a year on the market my house finally sold before Christmas. After so many open homes – always keeping the house pristine – deals that didn’t go through and new advertising promotions, the prospect of a sale became all consuming.

There was contentment on reaching a deal, even some happiness, but when the time came to prepare to move this month, dread set in. How could I leave my home of 12 years? After all, I have lived there longer than any other house in my life. I had made it perfect for me.

A colleague of many years left last week, the day before my move, to pursue his own journey last week. He made a big decision to disrupt for the future.

When he left it was an opportunity to reflect on the value of relationships and the often unspoken meaning that comes with valuable relationships at work.

Leaving my home has been a necessary disruption to make way for my future housing plans.

Tonight while I was showing the new owners all the little things they should know, two little girls appeared at the front door.  Neighbours with farewell drawings. So sweet. Their way of letting me know that they valued our friendship.

img_4059.jpg

Nothing new and really meaningful can happen without disruption and for me a bit of pain. But it’s a good thing. A great clean out, a new neighbourhood and proving I really do know how that complicated A/V system goes together!

So for me, a silver lining although I do wonder what it’s like to be completely content in the present state. Does that bring similar joy in the end?

In the end, whatever works. And stay tuned for my new beginnings on the home front.

Happy new year.

Stephen

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

iStock-925702692.jpg

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