Decisions that change

We all have them in life. The decisions that change the course of your life, whether that be a personal decision or maybe a career change. Twenty-five years ago last week on 26 March 1990 with twenty others I gathered at 120 Mayoral Drive, Auckland as a new employee of the newly-created Serious Fraud Office.

We had an office, desks, phones and some basic computers. Parliament hadn’t passed the SFO Act so we had no statutory powers. But we did have quite a lot of energy and diverse skills and got on with the task of investigating allegations of fraud that had been collecting dust in other government departments. Some we took over from other agencies.

Our minister was the Attorney-General, the late David Lange who attended an opening ceremony and lived up to his lively reputation and healthy appetite. Charles Sturt, a police detective turned lawyer was the Chief Executive and Director. He got into quite a few tangles with other departments and politicians, one of which saw him retire from the role, much later. He had the vision to see that the SFO should not just be statutorily independent, but that it should operate independently of the police and others.

The cases were challenging, and the powers the SFO was given with the passing of the Act in July 1990 made the obtaining of evidence relatively straightforward. The powers were controversial, some not requiring judicial oversight, and it took until quite recently for the police and others to get similar investigation tools.

I knew that the decision to join was large but like all decisions, you can never know where it will lead you. The large part comes later, as life’s direction is altered irreversibly. There’s no going back to the former state. That is gone.

We might think carefully about these sorts of decisions, but do we know where they really lead? Of course not, even with a goal in sight.

Sometimes a decision to change is needed to break the old open and allow change.

Some of us twenty on that day would have fitted into that category, some, like me, slightly starry-eyed looking forward to a new thing without too much thought about where it might lead.

Turned out to be not a bad call.

Stephen

p.s. Test of a big decision: remembering the date I reckon!

In the mood for a cyclone

Apparently there’s a cyclone here, or is that an ex-cyclone?  So far not much bar some gusts and welcome rain.  Running from Titirangi up to Arataki this morning, it only took 500 metres, then I didn’t get any wetter.  One good thing about running in the rain is that once you’re wet, that’s it, you don’t get any wetter.

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If it’s cold that can matter, but this morning it was not too bad at all.  

For some reason it reminded me of being in Paris a year ago next month. Suddenly, the trip was fresh in my mind again and Hotel Coste was playing in the (now infrequently used) car. I feel a re-play of Midnight in Paris coming on.

It’s been exceptionally busy lately at work, with hardly a moment to reflect or for that matter, write a blog. And I’ve missed it. There’s something about writing down thoughts that is both therapeutic and insightful to me. A change in weather is like a change a pace, a chance to do something new, or in this case old, again.

So the outdoor umbrellas are down, the windows all closed but frankly, the cyclone hasn’t really (so far!) come to much that matches all the preparation and anticipation. But what it did do is makefor a change of pace, a chance to change direction, even for a day.

Thanks to a cyclone that put me in the mood. To write a blog.

Stephen

 

A big call

We elected a new government last weekend. That was a big call. By collectively voting to return a National-led government we had to give some things away – the prospect of keeping our government-owned power companies in full public ownership, a tax system that taxed earnings on all capital profits, and raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, for example.

So selecting something always requires giving up something.

First time for me into the Victoria Park Tunnel

Jasbindar Singh who  I often work with, reminds me from time-to-time: “Stephen, if you going to do that, then what will you give up?” A good but sometimes difficult question.

On Friday I made a big call personally. It will involve change including giving some things up. It wasn’t easy and there is a certain amount of grief that goes with the giving up part. For me, I felt that quite a lot, but in life we need to make big calls sometimes – no change happens without change! And when we get the opportunity, it won’t always been when you’re ready for it – in fact there’s a good chance that no change for growth will occur when you’re ready.  If you were ready it probably wouldn’t be much of a change.

Tomorrow we start the final module of the Innovative Leader’s GM Programme.  It’s a really busy time of the year and those on the programme have to give up something to be there. That’s the nature of preparing for growth.

As for me even though I like change I still find it hard to let go. Logic vs the heart. That’s a big call!

Stephen

Expecting the same

The definition of insanity is expecting a different result by doing the same each time. Or so said a business associate of mine when discussing some contracts she is involved with. It was the movies again last night for me:  Larry Crowne was a lifer at Umart who was sacked because his lack of college education meant that there was no prospect of promotion. Larry went off to university in an effort to make a step change in his life. He found a girl and you can guess what happened.

Not everyone likes a step change.  Some people want gradual change  and believe that step changes, especially if the team make-up changes dramatically, do more harm than good in the end.

Larry had originally trained as a navy chef and started courses in economics and in public speaking to make his step change. As the public speaking course progressed it looked more and more like story-telling (sorry but can’t resist putting a plug in for our brand new website at CIL!). Larry wanted to make a change by gaining a university education. In the end the biggest change he made was the people he met. And in the process he discovered that he didn’t need any theory about public speaking – all he needed was to unlock the authentic story of his life. All of that was a big step change.

The thing about change is that we never really know what the end result will be – what we do know is that when it’s started it won’t be the same again – which for Larry Crowne was the main thing.

Do you want a different result? Then you need to do something different, sometimes we won’t even know where it will end and the most important thing is that change has begun. I quite like the concept of a change from a burning platform. There’s a saying that you have one month to make a change for a significant life event. Unless you want the same, go for it!

Although it’s a predicable feel good movie, it’s funny and off the wall in places. I enjoyed it.

Stephen