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.

Stephen

Unofficial start

One of the blogs that came up this week on the WordPress site where this blog is posted was headed “Unofficial start to Summer”.  Driving home this evening late the outside temperature reading was 9.  Not what I’d call the unofficial or any other type of start to Summer.

Winter can be a beautiful time – this is near Whakatane

Of course it’s all about perspectives and living south of the equator – a fair way south – our perspective is very much Winter calling.

Recently I had a bout of chest infection with coughing that seemed to go on an on.  Perhaps all that flying and mixing with strangers in the compressed environment wasn’t so good for me afterall!  Winter is definitely on the way and I notice myself feeling ever so slightly morose when it’s dark early and cold.  Why is that? I have heating, and it always gets dark at some point anyway.  So why should the blackening sky blacken the mood.

I’ve noticed it in the past, but for some reason been more conscious of it this year.  Perceptions can greatly impact how we feel about each other and often those perceptions are right.  If I’m told I appear stressed (like I was today!) then there’s a good chance I was. Or the perception might be wrong, but it’ll be a good excuse for a conversation between colleagues.

So how about an unofficial start to feedback with a comment about perceptions?  You don’t need to accuse or state anything.  Just “My perceptions is that you appear……..” – you fill in the blank which might be happy/anxious/overworked/mindful/unfocussed – and see where it takes you.  If it doesn’t fire, it’s unofficial, so no harm done.

But I’d say probably a lot of good will be done.

Stephen

Present future

Are you here? Or will you be gone by the first paragraph? It’s a long weekend coming up and by the look of the offices around here, I’m the only one not in it yet. One of our participants told me in no uncertain terms today that I was to sort out my work-life balance and not work in this long weekend, so I’m going to blog now. At this moment.

I had a nice dinner with Dad last night in Mt Eden. As we talked I realised we were very much in the moment. Respectful, interesting (well he was anyway), listening, allowing time for our thoughts to properly process, and gaining great insights. The biggest insight for me was to realise how seldom we are truly in the moment.

With the long weekend upon us now’s a great time to practice being present with loved ones. You might be rushing down the motorway, off to a favourite destination, a big hurry to pack, all sorted and off. When you get there, don’t rush the three days.  And if you’re coming back early to “beat the traffic” I’d be asking who you’re trying to “beat” on a holiday. Or even worse, “beat” someone to finish the holiday! Congratulations (excuse my sarcasm) you “won”  the race to finish the holiday!

The present is, well, curiously, right now, not in the future.

Dad and I had that much waited for future moment in the present last night.

Enjoy!

Stephen

Facilitation for leaders

At the end of a breakfast session recently where I facilitated a session on personal values I was presented with a lovely gift book on facilitation. I joked that I took the hint! I enjoy facilitation, in fact it gives me the kind of happiness that we should all try and get to at work.

Facilitating a team or workgroup is an important part of leadership. Drawing out the blocks that stop us being mindful and in the present, ensuring we’re all heard, using appreciative inquiry to help others deeply understand their issues to grow all  those present, are some of the hallmarks of great facilitation leadership.

Get ready set go!

As you do more you start to notice who’s talking about the topic and who’s talking in the topic. I’ve noticed this a lot in storytelling. Some people tell stories from the heart, others share what the story is about. There’s quite a difference and it can be that those talking about the story aren’t ready for that deep sharing that comes with authentic leadership.

But there can be another reason. So many people are in a rush – give me the bottom line, what’s the key point, we’re all busy so need to move on – you know the signals that espouse efficiency and signal impatience with real meaning.

So if someone in your team is not opening up, try time. Set aside some facilitated time, time to properly hear, be patient, ensure everyone knows not to speak until it’s their turn and you’ll be amazed what comes up. The leadership gems are available for the sake of an hour or so of time.  You’ll need to role-model the listening discipline, watch you don’t watch the watch and actively listen.

Not really that complicated, but a rare gift in our busy lives.

Stephen