noun a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.

It’s a word that’s been top of mind lately. As authentic leaders we strive to provide an environment where those we lead can perform, grow and reach their purpose, or meaning.

I have had an internal debate about whether I look for purpose or meaning. Whichever one it is I strive for, lately I’ve noticed that unless something brings joy, I’m hesitating.

A colleague and I engaged in a coaching conversation today. We challenged each other on blocks that people have to finding joy. It is the nature of the work? Is it too much work? Or is it just a mindset.


Work won’t always bring us joy. Sometimes it’s just hard. Our personal objectives won’t always bring us joy. Getting there can be hard.

But on the way through I reckon we should be finding some joy. Not just from reaching a purpose, finding a meaning, or even reaching a goal. But on the way through.

Reminding ourselves “these are the good old days“.  Making it a daily challenge to find the mindset that brings joy to us is not easy, but worth a try for our own sense of purpose or meaning, and our teams.



The night before

It has a night before Christmas feeling tonight with the Authentic Leadership Programme commencing proper in the morning. All the pre-work has been done by us and the new participant leaders and the room is all set up.

We’ve done this a few times of course so we know more or less what to expect. But it won’t be the same as ever before. Refinements have been made and we’re trying out some new things and new locations too.

But more significantly, each of the 20 leaders on the Programme will bring with them their own leadership opportunities, challenges, personalities, hopes and aspirations.

Like you experience when leading people.iStock-644997626.jpgSo in the morning there’s some time spent getting to know each other in a meaningful way, developing ways of working together over the next six months, exploring our personality profiles, reviewing 360 feedback, and sharing stories. It will be a very full first day with some time to reflect too.

One thing we’ll say tomorrow but we’ll say again several times is that everything we do on the Programme is transferable back at work. You won’t notice that unless you’re mindful. Which reminds me, being present will be vital!


Nothing happens to us in the future

We’re readying ourselves for the start of another Authentic Leadership Programme. A new venue, new faces and some new ideas. An invigorated Programme.

We’ve been looking forward to this for some time and a lot of hard works has gone it to get prepared and today it arrives.

Planning is incredibly important to get us to where we want to be, and if we don’t plan and execute we can be reasonably confident we won’t get where we want to.

Slow living concept. Inspiration motivation quote Be here now.

However, in leadership development, it’s important to recognise that new insights can often be immediately put into practice and that’s what we’ll be encouraging our seventeen participants to do from today.

As a friend of mine said recently, “you don’t die in the future, it’s now”. Sobering, but a powerful reminder of taking action now, when we can.


A winter mojo

Maybe it’s a general malaise, winter, too much work or not enough on reflection time. In a moment of escape from the intensity of work it occurred that I’d lost my mojo. A colleague said it wasn’t anything that a holiday wouldn’t fix.  He’s probably right.

It got me thinking about why and how we lose our mojo. Paris on stephendrain.comIs it one thing? Work perhaps?

Experience tells me it’s never one thing, not often just two things but a combination of too much and too little.

For me too much of the same, too many deadlines and too little reflection and things that add meaning to be personally.

The last bit is it. Meaning. Which is why for me the first blog in two months. A place I went to, to start getting my mojo back.

What will you do?


Celebrating success can be hard

I think I was one of only two people in the Koru lounge this morning who clapped when Oracle successfully defended the America’s Cup.  I was one of a handful who clapped when Team New Zealand crossed 44 seconds later.

Oracle had a stunning success. No doubt about it. Caught cheating, they paid the price for their crime which almost wiped them off the course.  Aotearoa was fast, very fast, and importantly faster than Oracle for the first week. But Oracle dug deep and made its boat even faster.

Would this have happened against the other challengers?  Probably not, Oracle would probably have won on their slower boat anyway.  You might think its a rich man’s sport, their toys on the world stage. Might be. The All Blacks aren’t playing a poor man’s sport,  but we don’t accuse them of the same.  Without the power of Team New Zealand and Oracle in competition we wouldn’t be seeing the technology, the innovation and the outright excitement of these boats.  Think of the Pumas in the Rugby Championship – there to get better from playing us.

My son Thomas graduated this week in a ceremony with 500 or so others.  All successful.  In different ways.  But Thomas was the most successful person there for me!  Well done mate!.  He drove himself to success by building higher steps to climb (and he’s got more going on now).

I hated and loved this America’s Cup all at once. I hated the stress of the last few days.  Hell! Their boat really is faster!  Oh no!.  But the beauty of the boats gliding, the work of the crews, Barker’s graciousness and maturity, that New Zealand was behind much of all of this, including Oracle’s boat and crew.  That’s success.  All of which we should celebrate.

I felt the grief of losing.  Felt for Barker actually. The shock, the anger, the resentment but then the acceptance and hope. Hope for more of the same, another America’s Cup please, but I’ll be promising myself to enjoy the moment as much as I enjoy the prospect of NZ winning.  That’s my little promise to myself.

What a journey. Got to enjoy it on the way.  Even if we can’t now, we will when we look back.

Humid as for Christmas

Even with a cool breeze running through the house it’s well over 80% humidity according to the dial in the hallway.  If you’re a parent of a young child you’d be sweating too, if you haven’t done the business by now and got a suitable collection of presents under the tree. It’s a festival for mid-winter for most of the world but we’re here in the most humid time of the year, with the remnants of Tropical Cyclone Evan apparently in our midst.

One of the Franklin Road houses has a big ribbon around it with words that make you look twice.  Today is the presentA colleague at work commented that they “couldn’t wait for Christmas”.  When I enquired what that was about, I was told it was the current pressures.  “Now is as good as it ever gets” was my reaction.  It always is.

Enjoying the present is very much part of Christmas, whether that be the wrapped sort or the real sort. Even for a cynic who looks forward to the end of the actual day so they can start enjoying a holiday, here’s an opportunity to really take stock of the present. Sweating it out with a hot roast here in Auckland can be tough, but don’t worry, those relatives won’t be here for long! Always waiting for the future is a trap. The present is our gift to ourselves.

Merry Christmas.


Being 49

It’s a scam!  The whole year “I’ll be 50 next birthday” or “50 next year”.  Hell, whatever happened to being in my forties! That ended on turning 49 I’ve realised.  Wished I knew that then, but then again I guess I entered my forties a year early too. My Tim turned 20 this month, Dad turned 80 and my parents were married today 60 years ago. A card signed by Elizabeth R, another from the GG, one from the PM, one from the Minister of Internal Affairs (something not right about those words being involved in celebrating an honest and enduring relationship!) and finally Mum and Dad’s local MP. So a collection of cards, good wishes on Facebook and no doubt elsewhere and they will awake tomorrow in their 61st year of marriage, almost as irritatingly healthy as they’ve been for as long as I’ve known them!  Which is 49, well nearly 50, years, give or take a few years of not really knowing what’s going on.

So don’t hang around for too long not knowing what’s going on – that’s for when you’re 2 years old – not today, waiting for whatever is going on to be done to you. A milestone is a cause for others to celebrate a special person or people – to reflect on their achievements – and on all that they have brought into others lives. For my folks that’s quite a lot for quite a lot of people and I couldn’t be blessed with better parents. Not perfect, but then again who of us is, and whatever we’ve done if we’ve learned, grown and done our best to reconcile differences and appreciate blessings, we deserve to be happy.  And my Tim who has had all sorts of challenges, achieving an A- result in a paper made all those around him very proud, especially me. That’s one of the best things to celebrate in this month of milestones.  Well done Tim!

A milestone is also the moment to reflect on your own stuff. If you’re too busy to reflect I know what you mean. That’s pretty well me all the time.  But it’s also pretty well me most of the time to be happy too which is what I intend to take into my next decade – which starts with the next moment.

Which is of course all you really have. But those moments, taken, will guarantee you 20, 50, 60 or even 80 years of self-fulfilment. If you take them one at a time.  So being 49? Great actually. Now that I’m in the moment.

And happy celebration if that’s your thing too this month!  November? Lovin’ it as always.