Walking True

Walking True

Almost the last thing I did in 2021 was walk. It could be the year of the mask but it was the walking recovery year for me. After having a chunk of muscle removed from my right leg (with a tumour) in September 2020, I set out to do what I had endeavoured to do in 2020 and that was to walk at least 365 times.

Under that goal you can have a day off, but be warned you have to make it up with two a day if you slacken off! I did 374 walks covering 1582.82 kilometres (I know, it’s the App – keeps it exactly – there’s no hiding). That would have been a reasonable marathon buildup distance back in the day. The average walk was 4.24km and the average per day was 4.33. It’s lower than I would like but I’ve noticed my resilience for longer walks building and 2022 will be about maintaining and building an average walk of 5km. I loosened my “minimum 2km” rule on account of the surgery but very few walks were below 2km. All walks were deliberate (that’s a rule), but I incorporated other activity like shopping, walking at my little piece of land, and occasionally to and from work.

I listened to lots of music (became addicted to True by Spandau Ballet on the walks) and audio books – including 1984 with a mention almost exactly ten years ago on this blog (by Orwell – one insight: it’s happening in parts of the world), Brave New World (Huxley – it could happen), Animal Farm – I love this book, something about the farm, not just the story (Orwell – it’s happened in many places), A Promised Land (Obama – opportunities missed from fear of one’s own authenticity), The Tragedie of MacBeth (a play! – Shakespeare – violence begets violence), Leading Change (Kotter – it takes longer than you think), Skin in the Game (Taleb – only when you have actual skin in your game (work) do you have the rights to be heard), Apropos of Nothing (Allen – he’s funny, very funny and showing humour and grace when under attack is effective), Wuthering Heights (E Bronte – it was every bit as good as it was in the sixth form, and shaped me more than I realised – even the location of my new build to a degree), The Road to Wigan Pier (Orwell – cheer up for goodness sakes!).

From walk #5 of 2022 this morning – Arthurs Point, Queenstown

I walked in Auckland, Queenstown and Tauranga. Fewer places than I would usually, because of lockdowns and the resulting lesser travel. I have many favourite walks but standing out is Ohinerau – Mt Hobson – a gorgeous Maunga with spectacular views and sunsets and very close to home, the Arrow River by Arrowtown. Cornwall Park and the Domain are unbeatable really too. Maungawhau (Mt Eden) tests the cardiovascular system the best.

Reading back at this blog as I drafted it I cringed a little at the mention again of my cancer, but it’s part of me (well I live in hope it’s not physically!), and shaped me in unexpected ways. It made resilience real in 2021, it forced me to face existential questions early on and removed a fear of disease. Having it in the back of my mind – brought to the front of the mind every x-ray check up – has sharpened me in 2021. Live for now and get on with what I want to get done. Build the house, spend time with those that matter, and none with those that take the energy.

This is of course a leadership blog but after over ten years on it, there’s one constant which keeps me grounded in it and why sharing is necessary for leading. Authenticity. It’s everything in leadership. No degrees, accolades, books published or other high-sounding commendations can make up for a lack of it. Ask those who are led.

And grace – my word to start the year – we’re all human, so I try and will try more show grace in good times and in adversity. An old-fashioned word that captures how I’m feeling. And True? That’s the song I got addicted to on the walks. No idea why, but it’s true.

hari tau hou – happy new year!

Stephen

p.s. the featured image is also Arthurs Point, Queenstown this morning – a stiff walk uphill!





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

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.

A Leadership Word

The final session of the Authentic Leadership Programme was a round of words. What word will finish the Programme for you we asked.

iStock-685797112.jpgI didn’t capture all the words but most of them.  Whether I can make a blog out of them remains to be seen but I thought it would be good to share a very powerful session.

Cheating in Cricket wasn’t known about at the session, but Ethical Compass and Legacy have startling relevance right now. Not just in sport leadership but in our behaviours as leaders in the work place.

When the team is under pressure, our strategies for Resilience pre-prepared will need to come into play, as will our Humanity and, well just being the best Human we can be.  For me, there are times that the key strategy is Grit.  A vital attribute for any leader.

That doesn’t mean losing sight of our Emotional Intelligence recognising that tough times can lead to the best Learning.

Leaders need to be Confident with their Authenticity, show Vision, Empowerment and ask “What’s Next?“.

I got there!

Stephen

ps there’s about 5 more words from the session which I can add in if I get them