Letting go to make it stronger

My son Tim has just turned 18, like one minute ago. So I went downstairs and wished him “Happy Birthday” and a big man kiss on the cheek. He’s still young in many respects and lovely with it. When he went to bed he said “I’m just going to play on the computer for a bit ok?”.  I said that was okay, but only until midnight, at which time it will be your choice. We laughed.

It’s been a really big year – he’s grown from boy to man, nearly done with school, worked at a cattery and now accepted into Unitec. It was a proud Dad that wrote on his card this evening.

And you know what, with all that he’s happier than ever. You can feel the hope, anticipation and satisfaction of achieving what seemed like the impossible even only a year ago. And there will be many more challenges, and I hope there will be. That’s how we grow and remain happy.

I let go a little bit in the early hours of this morning. And he grew a little more for it. He’s stronger and we’re stronger.



When you feel who matters

It was 5.02am this morning and my new Blackberry (which I didn’t even know was on or off such is my knowledge of it so far) buzzed and woke me.   It took three goes for me to plug in my PIN number but when it did the text from Mum in Christchurch sent a shiver up my spine “Terrible Earth Quake”. It was one of those moments that I shall never forget. Or the next 15 minute frantically trying to contact them and finding a headline on stuff.co.nz that read in huge lettering that a 7.4 quake had hit Christchurch.

Were they trapped under a pile of rubble and one got text out? Were they struggling to find their way around? Clearly they were scared.

I felt devastated with concern and became upset. It made me realise how much my folks mean to me and them being vulnerable with the force of the earth against them was very difficult.

Thankfully we made contact and it was obvious that they were scared. Dad said it was like a bad dream that he hoped to wake from. Like most folk they had no power, books were thrown from shelves and crockery and ornaments smashed.

We’re little beings in a universe that is never static. Planet earth is relatively calm, although today’s events make you wonder, but that’s because we are so small and temporaty. The universe might be mighty and completely beyond our command, but we have emotional connections with loved ones that gives us meaning.

When the core of that meaning was put at risk for me, I felt an immediate and deep sense of empathy. It was me. In this moment did I felt the depth of meaning in this relationship.

They are safe, but they’ve had a frightening experience.

I’ve always known what matters. Today I felt it.

What is your leadership theme?

Just over a year ago on 10 August 2009 I wrote my first blog Who is doing your dirty work. I had started contracting to AUT University a few months earlier to establish the Centre for Innovative Leadership and started the blog partly, at least, to gain a web presence for the Centre.

I came to enjoy blogging and combined some of my other interests – movies, photography and general commentary – into other related blogs.

But the leadership blog remains my core. I’ve learnt a lot about the technical aspects of putting stuff on the web including photographs, linking, doing automatic feeds into twitter and facebook and recently, video – which I believe will be the key to communication on the web going forward.  These words will become more limited.

Speaking of words, I’ve created an electronic book with my 56 (including this one) blogs and done some reflection about the themes within my work (sorry about all the headshots of me – it’s to do with the linking I did on LinkedIn and I can’t remove them … yet!). Writing about leadership has both consciously and unconsciously been a reflection of my own journey in the last year and the other nearly 47 years before that.

Which brings me to themes.

My conscious themes are about authenticity, vulnerability, having fun, photography, narcissism, anti-dogma, transparency. But what else comes through? What are my unconscious themes?

Looking through the blog book and doing some searches I also found a story embedded about my sons, my father and mother, holidays, Space, Evolution, Officials hiding, values, fake personal branding, religion, tolerance, running, forests, driving and disclosure.

No surprise then that that’s been my life this past year: my authentic leadership themes.

What are yours?


Thanks Uncle George, I remember Daisy

I last stayed with Uncle George and Aunty Joan about 40 years ago. They were dairy farmers. I think that they had about 150 cows and the images of the milking shed at 5.00 am have stayed with me since then. I see Uncle George and his cows when I pass a dairy farm even now. The warm unprocessed milk with porridge at 7 or 8. The implement shed.  The raging bull that we chased on the other side of the fence. Driving for the first time as he put the hay out, across the paddock with the accelerator on the Bedford truck stuck on what felt like breakneck speed. Rapidly (to my eyes!) approaching a narrow bridge between paddocks. The big arm leaning in to check the steering  You’re fine, just keep it dead ahead. Dead I thought, yes, if the bridge doesn’t widen up real soon!

Running into Mum and Dad in Farmers on a trip to the city. I need to go to the loo. Uncle George corrected you mean lavatory. Such responsibility to my care, even in the face of my parents! Funny how at the tender age of 5 I could sense my parents discomfort.

He died this week, aged 96. He had strong beliefs that he will join Aunty Joan. And probably Daisy. One of those 150 cows he knew by name. The only name I remember, but he had them all off-pat as they walked to the dairy. Remarkable.

He let me learn by trusting me and letting me have a go. Thanks Uncle George.