Day 3

Day 3

The weekend! I heard the weather forecast and wondered whether we could do without it. Does it even matter now?

A walk (yep the weather matters!) – got the sweats up today –  chats to family and friends, although not face-to-face. The roads were quiet, but not completely clear, although I got this shot of one of the busiest roads in New Zealand on my walk. The prison in the background. Every hardship in perspective.

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I started a new audiobook – Getting Things Done – by David Allen on my son Thomas‘ recommendation. As the world changes we all need to find new ways of working and finding fulfilment.

I broke my Facebook Amnesty – a tool from my last book – Deep Work by Cal Newport which has unexpectedly prepared me for my Home-D. Unsurprisingly, Facebook hasn’t changed, but the mood seemed to be of compliance with the new emergency lockdown and almost unfettered power to the police. Questions about approach appeared to burst bubbles (not the home bubble I hope!) of reverence to those in power. It worries me that there is so little critical thinking on where we’re going. I’m not saying we’re not doing the right thing, but in Leadership, embracing all alternative viewpoints provides a richness in decision making. Think Appreciative Inquiry, Strategic Thinking, Ladder of Inference and BXT. When we embrace views contrary to ours we do our best.

I obsessed slightly about the rates of COVID-19 infection and impacts. Cases went up in New Zealand as expected, by about the same as the day before, although the numbers in ICU doubled – from 1 to 2. Global cases passed 600,000 with deaths at 27,500 and those in serious or critical condition at 23,500. Ninety-five percent of cases still active are in mild condition.  Italy and Spain have extraordinary large numbers of deaths per million of population (151 and 110), then there’s a group in the 20s and 30s (France, Iran, Netherlands, Belgium, and Switzerland), a few countries with rates of 5 – 10 per million and the bulk well below.

Practiced some Windfulness today on my walk – focussing on the surroundings and stillness, although there were plenty of people out exercising. I used the time to bring my thoughts in closer, to focus on what I can control and lead. It helped.

Anxietyometer: Started higher today, but down after the walk and focussed mindfulness.

Season 3 of Ozark is out! 

Stephen

 

 

Day 2

Day 2

The trains are still running. Including the midnight freight train, which despite hearing it, I slept much better. But I was really tired at the end of the day.  Maybe it’s the anxiety, the constant screen, camped inside, or a combination of it all, but it made me very tired.

Some rules were clarified – you can’t drive 20km to the supermarket – well not in the city anyway, you can walk from home and back again, there seems to be a consensus that you can cycle on your own, and that you can drive to a local park and walk there.

I drove to a local park and had a great walk this evening. I imagined who the French Resistance circa 1942 might be and who the occupying sympathisers would likely be. Those that passed cautiously without exaggerated movements and smiled knowingly, verus those who crossed the road with stern looks.

We are told it’s a dire threat so there’s only one rule – Stay Home! – and  all the other variations of that rule are made up as it goes along. Anything that is a breach is obstruction!

Some might question why my apparent obsession with outdoor activities, when there’s an imminent peril to counter. Might be the 80sqm apartment, the need for freedom and the general disruption. It’s both shallow and deep. Shallow as the media only have one story which you can’t consume all the time so I need to focus on something – anything! – and deeper, it’s about our way of life.

It’s also that the disruption for most people is not about COVID-19 on a day-to-day basis – that occupies the Media and social media platforms – it’s about economic and social survival. The economy sacrificed, social order turned upside down, families split and so on.

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So, I survived the first week of Home-D, yeah it’s only two days but let’s give ourselves some slack and make it feel like an achievement. The work team have been awesome and everyone: clients, colleagues and support crew are adjusting very well. We’ve seen the insides of colleagues homes, their family and pets. That’s going to be a thing from now on. Nothing that I would need to unsee yet.

Humour remains important. A colleague asked me what I had in store for the weekend.

Stephen

Day 1

Day 1

It started quieter than usual. But the trains are still running – no one to be seen in them – but it was comforting. A full day’s work, very full, lots of Google Hangouts, dozens of phone calls (61 to be precise), client discussions, emails, timesheets, a normal, manic day.

I could hear the neighbour’s washing machine – I’ve hardly ever heard anything – but of course we’re all home, all the time! More or less.

The public messaging a week ago was about don’t worry, you’ll still be going shopping to the supermarket, the doctor and the pharmacy, and you can have walks for exercise. Today not so much. It was Stay Home! The Police will be watching and asking questions. The media have fallen into line, amplifying the warnings with dire predictions of death rates, if we all don’t do what we’re told. A brief stroll in the neighbourhood is going to be acceptable, except in the Tron where an older couple were told by the police to “go home, you can only walk under Alert 3”. Wrong. But any walk that looks like you might be enjoying yourself is out. Go Home! 

So after work a walk for exercise. I swear I didn’t enjoy myself, it was a grim event, done purely for medicinal purposes, followed by a supermarket shop. I followed the rules. Acted like I had COVID-19, although I’ll need to get walking a bit harder and faster tomorrow to get the sweats up.

The supermarket was quiet, well stocked and welcoming. A walk home, dinner and Netflix. It was okay!

iStock-1150076487.jpgWhen power is given in a democracy it mustn’t be abused, or even used unless absolutely necessary. To do otherwise risks the very democracy that we live under.

The authorities have a massive test in front of them. Enforcing the “stay home” in a reasonable way that calibrates with Kiwi democracy. If not, a loss of trust for the future.

We earn tomorrow’s trust by today’s actions.

Anxietyometer? Definitely down. It’s the PM-sanctioned Teddy Bear walks that did it. Turns out it’s fine to go for a walk! Of course it is!

Stephen

 

D-Day

D-Day

As I write it’s 59 minutes until we have the full force of the Lockdown. The Newmarket Viaduct is strangely noisier than usual – steady slow streams of traffic don’t filter through the double-glazing, but trucks and other vehicles at pace do – just. Westfield is well-lit as usual and only the two supermarkets at the centre will be open for business tomorrow.

I’m at the point of – just make it be here! – the anticipation feels the worst part – and once it’s here we’ll adjust and carry on. Life will never be the same – but this thing will pass – before we know it. That is not a scientific prediction, but a reasonable assumption based on past events.

I’m feeling a bit anxious. I have always felt that freedom is my most important value – I’ve been attracted to it as a restorative and sustaining value for many years – and having a state sanctioned emergency rule of law in place is an anathema to that.

Rationally I get this Lockdown as I expect most of us do, so what to do about the anxiety? I can’t rely on my rational self to resolve it completely. I know the police are generally reasonable (I was in the police once) so we needn’t be afraid. I hear that the science supports the action – I trust our senior health professionals – we’re very fortunate to have independent government agencies, charged with providing expert and impartial advice. I don’t think most of our politicians want to rule over a police state – although I’d like to see more challenge to keep them accountable – so rationally I can reduce my anxiety somewhat.

iStock-985011924.jpgExperts tell us that the anticipation of a stressful experience or event, often creates more anxiety than the thing itself.  So I’m hoping that by the time the morning comes all will be well!

My planning is for Work, Walking, Windfulness and Whatever else. My four Ws for now:

  • Work – I’m fortunate
  • Walking – I completed my 101st walk in 2020 today so this Lockdown is going to see me steaming ahead on my goal of 366 for the year (who remembered it was a leap year?). And yes, they’ll be solo.
  • Windfulness – that’s just Mindfulness spelt with a W for no reason other than I could. More on that another day. But the point is that actually embracing this moment in all its scariness, unusualness and new opportunities might be the best gift to ourselves.
  • Whatever else – That can be any of the things you’ve been meaning to do at home. Watch all 25 Bond films (I might actually do that one) or Woody Allen’s film Whatever Works, read all Tintin Books (again!), go on-line and create your Family Tree, and blog every day (I’ll try).

Looking forward to it being here. At least then I can stop worrying about it coming!

Stephen

 

Day 0

Day 0

It’s not a great start, naming the blogs a day early, but it turned out that many people thought that the lockdown started midnight Tuesday, not Wednesday. It brought a whole new dimension. When is midnight on a day? Midnight is the end of a day. Glad to have cleared that up. Another day for Panic buying.

Panic buying paint is the big thing today. And guns. Sounds a bit scary. Not having the city spruced up, but what do we need extra guns for in the city? What do we need a gun for in the city?

You know when the shops close on Christmas day or Good Friday it’s manic at the supermarket the day before. Minimum trolley purchase $350. You never know. You need those tongs. Now it’s the same, but the supermarkets aren’t closing. Not even for a day, except I guess, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. They’re coming up during the Lockdown. How will that be?

The Warehouse declared themselves an essential service. The government didn’t agree. There are commercial winners and losers in this lockdown, but for the time being it’s not about that, it’s about stopping a pandemic in New Zealand.

iStock-1210903673.jpgIt will become a different economic discussion much quicker than we think though – not just about cash to prop up businesses and individuals to survive the next few weeks – but impacts, winners and losers, fairness, the make-up of the whole economy, welcoming tourists back. Was the lockdown worthwhile? Some people are not happy at all about it already. They’ve gone straight from shock to anger and Trump is speaking for these people already – the cure can’t be worse than the problem – he says. It’s appealing and so it makes it incredibly important that the professionals and leaders are scrupulously honest with us.

We need to be clear that COVID-19 is not flu. Seasonal Influenza kills 0.1 – 0.2% of those that are infected.  For COVID-19 it’s 3%+, although that’s subject to wide variations in different areas. SARS killed 9.6% and MERS 34%, but they weren’t as widespread. So there’s lots of stats and politicians can spin it anyway they choose.

Authentic leadership requires absolute honesty from all leaders on the facts, the implications and what the restrictions on us will do. With honestly, enforcement will be minimal.

In the meantime, I’ve got another day to find a PC port thingy that has two USB “C” outlets to make the home set-up work. I’ve never needed the home “set-up” like this before, but taking control of something, anything, is therapeutic.

I’m privileged to still keep working. It’ll be different but some of us are fortunate, and if you are able to work, or be otherwise secure, reach out to those that aren’t. We’re in this together.

Stephen

Day -1

Day -1

Well technically I think today was Day -2 as we head into Country-wide Lockdown but by the time you read this it’ll be Day -1. Listening to the government’s announcement with two colleagues, we knew that there would be something – hence the announcement – but hearing it was surreal. We’re saving “tens of thousands” captured us, especially as the global tally of deaths is 14,000, but who’s going to argue the toss. It’s important and a significant step has been made to curtail the virus.  As a business we’ve been planning for this day for some time and we’re more or less ready to go but you’d be fooling yourself if you thought that it would be all smooth sailing.

Humour was important today – was this The Handmaid’s Tale? After all, many governments around the world have authoritarian bents nowadays don’t they! We can still walk can’t we? (yes on our own). Coffee is an essential service right? (wrong, but you can get it from the Supermarket). Can you go to the Supermarket in Warkworth? (well, we don’t know, but there might be a checkpoint at the Johnson’s Tunnels “back to your own New World son“). Is it really a good idea now to live in an 80 sqm apartment? (it could be tough but see the walking question and maybe we can just, you know, go to the supermarket all the time!). Our grandparents fought in wars, we have to wash our hands and watch Netflix!

It’s serious of course – no gaming the system – you’re gaming all of us if you do. No “hanging out” with friends and neighbours at all. But you can and should phone, text, video-conference, even Facebook (I might have to cancel my self-imposed amnesty).

Alley Of A Mall Showing Closed Shops During LockdownThere’s lots of leadership on show right now, but the most important leadership we all need right now is our own – we’re going to be on our own only with those at home – so healthy eating, lots of exercise, catch up virtually with friends and relatives, work (very important!), do your family tree, re-watch the Detectorists (it has all the dry humour needed for this hour). Self care. It will pass.

Stephen

Shades of Fabrication

Shades of Fabrication

The world marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz last week on 27 January 2020  – which is International Holocaust Remembrance Day – with the main memorial at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in Poland. There’s unlikely to be anyone still alive to be brought to justice, but we mustn’t ever forget and stop learning from these tragic events and the evil that caused them.

The Netflix series The Devil Next Door, is the story of  John Demjanjuk, a Ukrainian-born Grandfather and retired automobile employee living in Cleveland, USA, extradited in 1981 to Israel to stand trial on charges relating to his alleged time as a Nazi death camp guard. He is accused of being “Ivan the Terrible”.

Various witnesses identified Demjanjuk as Ivan the Terrible from the death camps. Watching the trial I had a sense that the evidence didn’t really stack up. In fact, it looked like there had been fabrication of some vital evidence –  a photograph on a military record appeared to have been replaced with another – and there was other evidence that appeared, forensically, dubious.

He was convicted but later the conviction was overturned on appeal on the basis that there was reasonable evidence that another person was Ivan the Terrible.  Demjanjuk returned to the USA, but investigations continued and and he was later extradited to Germany to stand trial on being an accessory to the murder of almost 28,000 Jewish people at Sobibor extermination camp. He was convicted and died while waiting the outcome of an appeal in 2012, aged 91.

Recently, photographs have emerged which appear to confirm that Demjanjuk was indeed a guard at Sobibor. Demjanjuk’s son denies the evidence, but the German police have used biometrics to confirm the identity.

I don’t know the intricate details of all the evidence, but on the face of it, it looked like evidence was fabricated, or at best confused, at the original trial. The prosecutor and witnesses were adamant and, unsurprisingly emotional in their certainty that they had the right man. But they were probably wrong. Not wrong that he was a guard at a death camp, just not the one that they said he was.

To those charged with investigations, the idea of fabricating evidence should be an anathema. There’s untold stories of fabricated evidence around the world, to dishonestly secure convictions. We’re not immune to it in New Zealand.  So what drives those charged with getting to the truth of a matter to make it up? Some investigators are over zealous and forget their purpose is to obtain and present fact “I know they did it and this will help to prove it” or “He’s a bad bugger anyway, it’s about time we got him for something“. Utterly unacceptable of course.

But there are shades of grey too, in investigating. In my forensic work we come up against it quite a lot. Statements that are correct, but not complete: “Files were uploaded to the google drive the day before she finished up her employment“. But wait, they were personal files. That’s a different perspective. Or “No authority was obtained for the expenditure“, whilst leaving out that no such authority was required.

We’re frequently challenging, and reminding ourselves that’s it’s not just the truth of the matter, but the full truth that’s really important. A lot can depend on it.

Of course, we’re not investigating crimes against humanity or murder, but the principles are just the same. No shade of fabrication is acceptable, or in the end likely to even be helpful. I suspect a lot of pain could have been avoided if those investigating Demjanjuk in the 1970s and 80s had been a bit less zealous, and a lot more impartial.

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Stephen

Note:

Under German law, having died before his appeal was determined, Demjanjuk is not considered to have been convicted of the crimes he was accused of.

 

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