Asleep while the world wakes up

Asleep while the world wakes up

A few quick looks showed no emails of any note over the holiday although a couple of my team were working on urgent matters  – they’ll get their pay back later when we’re at the grindstone!

As each day passed I felt the mind relax, initially almost imperceptibly, then quite noticeably. I felt stronger thoughts about what’s important to me. Really important. The things that bring true contentment, satisfaction, or happiness, or whatever word works for you. Mine is freedom.

The world hadn’t stopped of course. A political assassination, a royal couple who declared that wealth and privilege don’t necessarily bring meaning, and dreadful fires, the signs of which we saw in the Central Otago sky.

This morning the world seemed to have woken up, although I’m still on holiday – emails, lots of them –  calls, and texts. On my walk this morning, the elders were out and about for some reason- off to the morning movies by the look of it – walking slowly like my mind, but not like my feet, I’m going faster than ever. Couriers were at it and the traffic and trains seemed back to normal service.

If you’re like me and still asleep while the world is waking up around you, hang in there for the most important things: exercise, sort your financial goals out, and do things that give you meaning. Maybe it’s obvious.

Over the holidays I re-read Scott Pape’s The Barefoot Investor. Reader warning! – he doesn’t like the big banks – but regardless of whether that works, the messages on financial freedom and bringing meaning to your life are extraordinary for a finance book. I also read Bill Bryson’s “The Body:  A guide for Occupants” – did you know that there’s no scientific evidence of harmful effects of MSG? And I walked. Quite a bit actually.  Then I saw this video this morning about the impacts of exercise on the brain.

So, a holiday about the body, financials and doing what brings meaning. My path to freedom.

Stephen

The banner photograph is one I took from Chard Farm Winery in Gibbston Valley, Queenstown, showing the Australian Bushfire sky.

Both books were audio books. Can you say you read them? I have but I wonder if that’s right.

 

201

201

I appear to have picked up some more followers, or at least followers who have noticed, because I’ve blogged about walking and related adventures, such as Cornwall Park.

The most common subject I hear in the leadership world right now is about well-being. It’s a broad subject and seems to cover physical and mental health when it is referred.

We all know it’s important to be in good health, so why the increased consciousness about well-being now?

I did my 201st walk last week for 2019. I probably won’t make 400, but they’re longer now, so maybe 365 is a good goal!

iStock-950716438.jpgWell-being is really about satisfaction, happiness or contentment. You chose the word that suits.

I’m not particularly satisfied that I’ve completed 201 walks, but I am increasingly happy and content from the energy, space and health that those 201 walks have provided me with.

And you can do it almost anywhere.

Stephen

 

Cornwall Park

Cornwall Park

Cornwall Park was gifted to the people of New Zealand in 1901 by John Logan Campbell. It’s my favourite city park – and it doesn’t hurt that I’m within striking distance – for a good walk. I was there over the weekend after dark for a 10 kilometre loop out and back home.

Last year I attended a wonderful talk by the lead landscape architect, Thomas Woltz, engaged by the Park’s Trust Board, to oversee a 100 year transformation. Excitingly some of the projects are already underway. At the Manukau Road end of the Park, which I suspect many people don’t think of as an entrance to the Park, the statue and surrounds have been lovingly restored and invigorated.

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From Manukau Road through to the Green Lane entrance past the sport’s grounds it’s a great route that I never tire of. Cornwall Park “proper” (my phrase) is full of mature trees, farmland, rock walls and Twin Oaks Drive. There’s nothing quite like it.

At night it’s completely unlit which is rare in the city and ideal for deep thought.

Watch out for sheep on night patrols though!

What better way to build resilience?

Stephen

 

I just wanted to hug her

I just wanted to hug her

When Mary spoke at our PwC Fraud Academy event this morning she shared her personal experiences of “blowing the whistle” on her boss some years back. What struck me and others in the room was the very real and powerful effects on her.

At one level she simply did the right thing, having found evidence of invoicing fraud. But it was much more than this. The sense of disbelief – could my boss have really done this? The agony of not knowing who to trust. The suspicion that others might be involved. And the fear. Fear of consequences for herself – “maybe people will think I’m involved” – or at least culpable for not having picked it up, and the fear of what her boss might do.

As it turned out, after her boss was confronted by senior management she was confronted by him: “What have you done? They’re accusing me of all manner of things“.

Nasty stuff and not things we hope we’ll ever face in the workplace.

iStock-994164986.jpgLeaders will typically prepare for crisis events: spring into action for natural disasters and man-made events. Preparing ourselves for confronting the worst aspects of the human condition requires drawing on our innermost resources and life experiences.

Mary left and we wrapped up the session with a few words about the importance of transparent and visible whistleblower services.

As our audience left one woman came up to me and asked me to ensure that we properly thanked Mary for her bravery “I just wanted to hug her” she said.

Stephen

Not all black and white

When Mum and Dad were married, the end of WWII was just seven years earlier. That’s like it had ended at the end of 2011, looking back from now. Or, if we look at the Armistice for WWI, the 100th year of which we commemorated yesterday, that was thirty-four years prior, say 1984 from today’s lens.

Photographs from that era were all black and white and the first one included in this blog is the “meet the parents” trip taken outside 125 Queen Street, Auckland.  Until recently this was the Bank of New Zealand building, the bank that Mum and Dad have been with for all that time! (although I’m pretty sure Mum has some funds hidden away elsewhere).  The photograph was taken by a street photographer and collected from the store an hour or so later on payment of a small fee.

Mum and Dad 1952.jpgIt’s tempting to look at a long marriage as a specific time period and consider it a great achievement (which it is), or a good effort (perhaps like a prison sentence – “hey it’s more than David Bain did and he was innocent!”), or assume what is there today is what was there all along.

Here’s the wedding day  – them on the right with one of Dad’s brothers as best man with the bridesmaid.

Mum and Dad Wedding

Unlike the photographs it’s not all black and white. Mum and Dad are quite colourful actually – check out the recent photograph below. They’re parents, grandparents, great grandparents, brother and sister, uncle, aunty, cousin and friends to many.

So on this day it’s a celebration of a couple who have lived together as an example of love, persistence, humour, faith and actually, the most important thing of all: just doing good. Some of that even washed onto me!

Nice. Congratulations. You’re a legendary couple.

Stephen

ps 66 years!

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A different perspective

There’s a lot going on at work right now. Probably too much and I’m sure the team agrees.

So when I booked an afternoon in another city to work and connect with others it seemed a good idea, but not so good this morning.

Nowadays a lot of work can be done anywhere – have laptop and phone – location matters less and less (more on this another day).

After a conference call which sounded like an echo chamber in the airport lounge, I was off. The man next to me was reading the flight manual for the Boeing 777.  Maybe he should have had the aisle seat.

The air was crisp and the sky blue on arrival. Bluer (is that a word?) than home.  It felt quite productive for me although I may have fired off one or two many emails with ideas, thoughts and instructions.

Then some conversations.  Different conversations giving me a different lens on issues and challenges.

IMG_1833.jpgWhen I boarded I realised I had just slightly more perspective than yesterday. A different place, different views on a vexing issue, and some introverted thinking time.  I needed that. You might too.

 

Stephen

 

A Leadership Word

The final session of the Authentic Leadership Programme was a round of words. What word will finish the Programme for you we asked.

iStock-685797112.jpgI didn’t capture all the words but most of them.  Whether I can make a blog out of them remains to be seen but I thought it would be good to share a very powerful session.

Cheating in Cricket wasn’t known about at the session, but Ethical Compass and Legacy have startling relevance right now. Not just in sport leadership but in our behaviours as leaders in the work place.

When the team is under pressure, our strategies for Resilience pre-prepared will need to come into play, as will our Humanity and, well just being the best Human we can be.  For me, there are times that the key strategy is Grit.  A vital attribute for any leader.

That doesn’t mean losing sight of our Emotional Intelligence recognising that tough times can lead to the best Learning.

Leaders need to be Confident with their Authenticity, show Vision, Empowerment and ask “What’s Next?“.

I got there!

Stephen

ps there’s about 5 more words from the session which I can add in if I get them