Eight Christchurch Parks

I headed off from Mum and Dad’s place for my last run of the year. You’d hardly notice it in the car but it’s downhill towards the city from near Burnside High School. Like a gentle back wind you don’t really notice it running either, until you turn around. It was a quite a gloomy day, drizzling and quite cool, especially for late December.

First park was Mona Vale, just past 67 Fendalton Road where I remember helping Dad as a pre-school boy when he was a landscape contractor. Well I’ve always assumed I was helping! Mona Vale is beautiful, with well groomed houses on the other side of the Avon – I’m told the Hadlee residence is there somewhere. The Mona Vale buildings are fenced off, wrecked from earthquakes. The gardens are strangely immaculate and the highlight has to be the Gazebo with its beautiful stained glass windows. Out the back of Mona Vale into Christchurch Girls’ High School, where two of my sisters went, though at the previous Cramner Square site which is now just the site, empty, thanks to earthquake damage. Across into North Hagley Park I was greeted with the sign “Watch for Golf Balls”. Okay, I’ll keep my eyes peeled but I reckon by the time I see one worthy of being cautious about it’ll be over rover. So a large park essentially kept as a golf course near the city. My third park was the adjoining Botanic Gardens, scene of many a Sunday visit after Church where the perils of walking too close to the grass edge were instructed, to preserve the lawn, which Dad with his senior position in the Park’s Dept felt personal responsibility for at all times! Exiting the Gardens by the Peacock Fountain, left past the Canterbury Museum – one of the few old stone buildings functioning – and back up and over to Little Hagley Park.

Into Helmores Lane and it suddenly had a Wuthering Heights feel about it. A gloomy day with more than a few now derelict, boarded up houses wrecked by the quakes. Seems to me living by the river isn’t the best thing to do. I got the feeling that the occupiers behind “Resident’s Cars Only” signs might have wished for “Any Car Welcome, just bring some life to this place!”.  Over to Fendalton Road and a lap of St Barnabas Church where the famous and latterly infamous for his bouts of shoplifting Canon Bob Lowe presided. He’s apparently a relative although having updated the family tree while I’m here in Christchurch, he doesn’t appear in the 35 Lowes in the Tree.  Park number five was Fendalton Park with University of Canterbury qualifying as number six. I had to dice with danger by running a taped off area but I survived. Ray Blank Park in Ilam was next. Who Ray Blank was and why he had a park named after him, I didn’t know but you can find out here! The final park was Westburn Park, its claim to fame being a miniature street system complete with signage and road marking for kids on bikes, scooters etc to practice. Feeling the need to signal my last turn at the tiny Give Way it was right then left and back to Mum and Dad’s. See the map here of my 14.5km, and that’s my running done for 2011.

It hasn’t been the best running year, though a couple of marathons with a minimum of training, but I finish feeling more confident of cranking it up over the holidays again.

It’s the holidays. Do what you feel like. I am!


Tolerating Christmas

It’s a special time of the year especially if you’re a child or a grown-up with lovely memories of Christmas. Might be a really big stack of presents around the tree if you had a big family. Might be stories from older siblings about “hearing” noises in the night. New things. Special meal. Visiting Dad’s boss as a ritual. Everyone in a good mood it seemed!

For some, the Christmas lunch with disconnected relatives is a chore to survive. The only time the trust bank gets a chance to be exercised. That’s not everyone’s experience. Some families are filled with trust, companionship and mutual respect built on doing things – making an effort. And tolerating.

Shortly I’m off to sing carols at St Matthew-in-the-City. St Matthew’s who asked us to reflect on Mary’s discovery that she was pregnant. I only go there once a year. I love the carols and I like the tolerance. Seems to me if there is one thing that I can take from a church it’s tolerance. I’ve previously blogged about having no tolerance for intolerance.

When we sit down for Christmas Lunch that might be something worth reflecting on. Practicing tolerance to those less equipped for the rigours of an annual catch-up. While you’re at it try a little presence and make this one of the good old days!

Share your Christmas’ of the past and have a very happy Christmas day!


These are the good old days!

The Polish clockmaker finally declared Grandma’s Clock restored after two months and $400. The Chimes are fully wound so there shouldn’t be too much sleep for the next week or so for anyone in my house! I headed to my farewell lunch at Vivace after collecting the clock. As well as being called a traitor and a prick some lovely messages were given directly to me by people who’s opinions I greatly value and respect. I’ve made one last visit to my office at Manukau but got distracted by  what turned out to be the Manukau City Brass Band playing Carols in the Chancery.

Stephen Drain, John Raine, Kevin Pryor, Philip Sallis & Derek McCormack

Pacific men, women and boys in black trousers, white shirts, ties pumping out one soothing carol after another. I sat and listened for a while. Reminded me of the Sallies in Christchurch when I was a boy. On the way out to my office, Grandma’s Clock declared it 12 noon and chimed as I drove. More memories.

At lunch we talked about the Wisdom Retreat I recently ran. Mindfulness was mentioned and Derek reminded us that these are indeed the good old days. Can you enjoy this moment whether it be the brass band you come across, the coffee with a friend, or at a stretch, even Christmas Lunch, for what it is? That special moment.

Working at AUT has been a special moment in my life. I’ve built something quite special, been free to be creative, had a lot of fun and made many life-long friends. I’m very grateful. I’ve tried to feel it on the way, to embrace the special moments on the way – the first Authentic Leadership Course, the Queenstown marketing module on the Innovative Leaders GM Programme and my personal favourite, the Wisdom Retreat. These were definitely good old days for me.

I’m also grateful to the many clients who put their trust in me to help them on their journey. I hope I helped. I hope there are more good old days starting in 2012. New job, still doing what I love, and more!

Thank you.


ps and here’s the two people who came in behind me and made most of the stuff actually happen!

Lyn and Tamara - Thanks!

Six archive boxes and some certificates

I loaded them into the car tonight. Almost the end of an era for me. Three years at AUT setting up the Centre for Innovative Leadership, creating programmes with a focus on authenticity and innovation. So many workshops, coaching sessions, client meetings I couldn’t begin to count. Quiet satisfaction of building something. Grief on making the decision to leave what I’d started. That passed.

Now it’s excitement. They’ll be more leadership and other stuff too. Building a business in another context. More growth. More blogs. Can’t wait!

I put up my Christmas Tree tonight, complete with evil guy in the box reading “Christmas for Athiests”. Where he got that from I can’t imagine.

One more workshop in the morning. A great team wanting to finish the year getting their stuff on the table. We’ll do that, kick it around a bit, understand each other better and commit to watering our relationships in 2012. Connect and Commit is what we’ve talked about. Along with Clarity and Direction.

I’m connecting with all sorts of people at the moment. I ran into Barbara Horne yesterday who seemed very concerned that I would continue to blog! Nice to know someone is reading! Thanks. Too many “catch up for a coffees” to do them all but I’ll try. I’m commiting to more blogs – truth is they do lots for me – so why wouldn’t I? Great processing. I’ve got pretty good clarity and direction about what I’m doing in 2012, but it will be ambiguous – new stuff always is and it makes it all the better. Does for me anyhow.

Those certificates will find a new home but the six archive boxes will probably go untouched for a while. You never need most of the stuff. Why is that? No idea. Maybe a security blanket I might need to blog about one day.

Almost time to archive 2011 but before you do, connect and commit to take the great people with you from 2011 forward.


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!


Resilient Leadership

Keeping my mind healthy and resilient is partly why I run. Today it was the Kerikeri Half Marathon with my friend Mike and I pushed myself a bit, probably to make up for a slow Auckland Marathon three weeks ago. It’s a largely downhill run so a chance to put the foot down. Enjoyed.

I’ve been pretty busy lately – Workshops, Samoa, Wisdom Retreat, catching up on all the emails, appointments long-planned. A few things have fallen away – couple of missed appointments that got mixed up but people seem to understand. I hope so!

Kerikeri today: nothing like some good exercise to make you smile!

We learned quite a bit from our session on the Wisdom Retreat. We exercised for movement and strength. These were exercises that all abilities could cope with and develop as strength and fitness grew. We stretched. We breathed properly. We learned about the right food. We meditated. We were refreshed.

All these things we know and all these things we often ignore or don’t have time for.

Ask the question: if I don’t have time for keeping my body resilient, what do I have time for? Yes, I’ve taken the laptop to Kerikeri so I could load this up and load some photos. Really! No work. Well not much. And I ran, rested, took photographs and refreshed today.

What seemed almost overwhelming yesterday is in perspective.

I’m going to meditate tonight. No I haven’t turned into a mystical yogi, but I will close my eyes, breathe with my abdomen rising and be present for myself.

I know those that came on the Retreat got all this and more and I consider myself very fortunate to have been present during the sessions too.

Resilience. A powerful component of wise leadership.


Leadership Legacy

We visited Waikumete Cemetery today on the Wisdom Retreat. I wasn’t sure exactly what we would uncover but putting ourselves in the environment was going to be important in drawing out the nuggets.

Projecting ourselves forward to help us look back at what we want to be was powerful.  We visited the Erebus Memorial and the grave of a VC recipient who fought in both World Wars. Wise leadership starts with ourselves and those on the Programme brought a richness of experience and insight that I could not have anticipated.

It was windy by the soldiers grave but the rain stayed away which got us talking about our own experiences with those that have gone; and what the limited time on the planet means for all of us.

We need to ensure that what we want to do and be known for, we get on with.  Leadership can be developed and grown, from tactical, to strategic, to authentic and wise. Others watching rightly judge our leadership on what we do under pressure and in times of crisis. We saw that reflected with Air New Zealand 30 years ago. What we have seen recently is the company making amends.

Seeking understanding to build a platform for forgiveness cannot properly begin until an offending party acknowledges a wrong – as Air New Zealand has done.

This recipient of the VC from action in France in 1918 had certainly shown leadership.  We could see that in his story. Was it just because of where he was? Probably in part, but would everybody be ready to lead in the circumstances he found himself in? I’d say no.

So what will our legacy be? It will be partially built already but that most important moment might be from what comes up tomorrow, or next week or next year. Who knows. So we need to be ready with our Ethical Compass strong, our mind and body resilient and an ability to be Present at just the moment we need it.