Dead easy

Dead easy

It’s an easy jog from the Olympic Pools in Newmarket through the Domain and over Grafton Bridge.  Under Grafton Bridge is the remains of a cemetery.  Most of the graves are in disarray, broken from vandalism, tree roots and the shifting ground.

Down into the gully and over a little creek and you’re at the new cycleway under construction. Can’t wait for that to be finished but I’m one of the first to run on it I’m sure. Back up the hill, more of a bush climb than a run and all of a sudden you’re at Governor Hobson’s grave. Signed the Treaty of Waitangi on behalf of Queen Victoria and six months later dead. Aged 49.

Running after the pool was quite hard for some reason so it was the end of K’Road and back.  A cold day, wet and nice to be in a hot shower and in warm clothes. Going out for exercise when it’s cold and wet is hard.  It’s definitely easier not to go out!

As I’ve said before from the movie Vicky Cristina Barcelona, life is short, life is dull, life is full of pain. But it’s not that hard to make something specDSC_0849ial for yourself.

And in the winter where there’s not a honey bee in sight, just rain, cold, and at Grafton Cemetery a stark reminder of how long you’re gone when you’re gone, time to give yourself something simple for an uplift.

Might be a run, a movie, time out with a friend or connecting with family.

An easy uplift for a gloomy winter’s day.

Stephen

Marathon

The commentator for the women’s marathon has just said that if you’re going to be a great marathon runner then you need a great 10k time.  I knew I’d missed something! I remember joking to a friend before my first marathon that it was only four 10k runs – how hard could that be?

Athletes are making history right now and making a legacy to inspire others, including me too, to keep running. Must of us won’t ever make the Olympics, or ever any sort of placing, but if you’re inspired by someone to move, get and stay healthy, then that’s got to be a great thing.

Running a marathon feels like ticking off the kilometre’s one by one,

I’m working on getting back into form again! Are you keeping an eye on the legacy on your marathon?

the five become ten, ten is surprisingly quickly a half, twenty-four, ouch, twenty-eight, and then it hurts. Well it does for me anyway and from thirty-two it’s one or two at a time. But on reflection it’s not the kilometres ticking over I notice, it’s the exhilaration of the entire event and satisfaction that comes from completing a personal challenge.

So collecting things, whether they be miles in a marathon, friends on Facebook or qualifications or whatever, is not what will make the difference. The commentators are now discussing what might be more valuable – an Olympic Gold at London or winning the New York Marathon.  Your resume and history will  be what makes the Olympic marathon the one to go for.

Spending all our days on stuff, collecting things, including wealth is all very nice, but what will your legacy be?  What piece of history will you own that might inspire others and make a difference?

History is in the making at the Olympics and top athletes are making their legacy.  Don’t forget that after the pleasant life, the meaningful life, you’ll want to leave a legacy.  Why?  To fulfil yourself. How? Like a marathon, one piece at at time, but always keeping it part of something bigger.

Stephen

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!

Stephen

Friday night

Someone told me today that I hadn’t done enough blogs lately. It was nice to know that someone was reading. They wanted to know if my boys were comfortable getting mentioned as I do from time to time. I assured her that they were! Or that they got notified and didn’t object. It’s been another busy week ending with the farewell of Wilson Irons, CEO of the Anglican Trust for Women and Children who I have come to know over the last couple of years. As I looked around the room there was quite a bit of sadness apparent at Wilson’s departure.

What really matters then? Tom and Dad were here in Cashel Street six months ago on 22 February

When I get to Friday, if I’ve achieved something of what I had hoped for – which is never enough as it keeps growing – the end of the week is a good feeling. This time for once I’m home during daylight and it’s sunny and bright in my house as I type. I’ve been to Wellington, facilitated a workshop on the 6 month anniversary of the fatal Christchurch earthquake, got ready for another workshop on Tuesday, battled the crazy bureau as you need to do from time to time, spoke to a group of 400 prefects, run a couple of times, made some long overdue appointments for bits and pieces, scheduled a host of programmes and workshops, and promised myself that next week, I really will get through the rest of the stuff.

People spoke of Wilson’s contribution to his work, his passion for the children and the fine leadership he exhibits to his team. None of those things have gone. They all still exist and I reckon we’ll see evidence of them again soon. All of these things are the role of the leader, and if we like the role-modelling from our leader it’s our job to be the model, ready to take the role when needed. There’s some really capable people at the Trust who will do that.

What if I didn’t have to go back on Monday? Apart from the obvious annoyance from my clients to whom I have commited work to, how would I feel? There is no doubt that rewarding work gives us a sense of being and satisfaction despite the occasional or frequent irritations that go with bureaucracies and small organisations alike. I’m more than confident that I would be okay with it. Partly because I like new beginnings and the excitement, cleansing and the refresh that goes with it. Which is why I like Fridays and the promise it holds.

If someone you are close to goes from your everyday world, it’s your job to take what you learned and role-model that to others. Then we all grow. And when it’s your turn to go, you can look forward to a refresh and a new beginning, knowing a lot of you is keeping others going. 

Your whanau are always there anyway, so they’ll be no escape for Tim from these pages whatever I’m doing as family is the most important thing anyway. Nothing else can compare and the six month anniversary of 22 February can remind us all. So Tim, be ready I’m on my way, we’re having dinner tonight together. Can’t wait.

Stephen

Are you expected to be 24/7?

I’ve taken a few days off to, well not to do too much, but sorting out things at home, having lunch, even some cleaning, changed a couple of light bulbs that had been staring at me, dead, for quite a while. Even cleaned the fish tank.

Recently the Auckland District Health Board announced that they were considering not employing people who smoked. If health workers are to engage patients then they need to role-model the behaviours that are expected. I must admit I feel less confident if I’m seen by a Doctor who looks like he or she might be overweight, have high blood pressure or in otherwise risky condition. Of course what do I know, but you do get a sense!

I’m still responsible for the Centre for Innovative Leadership while I’m on leave but I’m sure you’ll agree I can do my own stuff, how I like and when I like. Role-modelling in leaders is arguably the most powerful of all leadership attributes and happens whether you like or not.  I often simplify leadership to the concepts of resilience, relationships, change, teams, adversity and vision. Most things flow from a leader’s ability to exhibit positive engagement and pro-activity in these aspects of leadership.

So if you’re not in good health, a narcissist (but relax you can’t help it, just stay away!), can’t maintain relationships with those you work with, or pretend to like teamwork but really only like that there’s a team doing your work, then leadership might not be for you.

And if you work for the health board looking after the sick and injured then it’s probably a fair bet that your patients are wanting to trust what you say, as well as what you do. Smoking doesn’t really cut it in that sphere.

So you don’t need to be on full alert 24/7. Afterall, authenticity doesn’t need such vigilance, it’s authentic and natural, just like the work means. You do need the characteristics of leadership 24/7 though, otherwise you aren’t role-modelling. Which is why I’m running on my days off to keep my resilience up (and my trousers fitting too!). Not just because it’s a role-model of leadership, but because it’s who I am.

Stephen

ps And I’m determined to get in as sharp a shape as I was here for a PB!

Negative splits

You’ll find an article on stuff.co.nz that talks about the differences between men and women in marathon running. There’s discussion about negative splits which if you’re a runner you’ll know is when you complete the second half of a race quicker than the first. The other day I was updating my LinkedIn and, yes I should have known better, but I stuffed up some minor descriptions and before I knew it several people had asked me about my new job! I don’t have one, but what I noticed was that I have been at AUT Centre for Innovative Leadership for 2 years 3 months. Time flies!

I’ve been working on my running the last few weeks doing interval training early one morning a week. It’s hard, my speed training pace is what good marathoners do the whole thing at, but I feel I’ve turned the corner on consistency. Last week’s effort was more consistent and my last interval was faster than my first. You might say a negative split.

Aside from my running there’s been a couple of things I’ve been struggling at for a while, but today, they both turned the corner for different reasons. One was a step change where I brought in someone special to deliver a workshop to a group I had been working with. She made a great success of it. The other resolved itself thanks to outside forces. So for both of these, I feel I’m on my way onto the next stage in much better shape. It’ll be a negative split for sure!

Make sure your next move gives you a negative split. Whatever the leadership issue you’re dealing with today, a team cohesion issue, a difficult conversation or innovation challenge, make sure it’s a negative split, second time around. Doing the hard graft, like in running, build up the resilience, treat the challenging experiences as part of a build up and step out for the next go. And make it negative, a negative split for a positive outcome!

Stephen

A run for Lloyd

In August 2000 I let my house in Orakei to a lovely, funny and very clever man called Lloyd Lang. Lloyd was a psychiatrist and although I didn’t want any dogs in the house, for some reason it seemed like the right thing to do so he moved in with his dogs. I became friendly with Lloyd and one day when he said how much he liked the house, I said well buy it then. And he did. Having Lloyd in that house, where Tom and Tim had spend 7 years as young boys, kept a connection going. It’s difficult to explain but it’s been a good thing for me.

Exactly two years ago I was at the Polynesian spa in Rotorua on the evening before the Rotorua Marathon when the unmistakable sound of Lloyd and a local doctor friend came to my attention. Lloyd completed the 10k event in the hour he had hoped and on the evening after we went for a Thai dinner. I don’t reckon anyone has entertained my Tim more at dinner than what Lloyd did that night. Tim still remembers it. “Twenty dollars!” he cheerfully offered to any of us and selected waiters for guessing his favourite song, his favourite food and a range of other random thoughts.

Today I left the workshop we were running to attend Lloyd’s funeral. He died on Sunday from cardiac arrest. I knew he had had surgery and he had told me once recently he wasn’t great. When I last saw him a couple of weeks ago he introduced me to his new lady Amber. He was clearly happy.

I’ve never been to a Jewish funeral before and was surprised at the ritual and speed. I’m glad that I shovelled some soil into Lloyd’s grave. I put a shovel of soil in for Tim and others for those I knew who were touched by Lloyd but didn’t make it today.

I’ll run the marathon in the morning thinking of Lloyd. Like I am now.

Small comfort to his family and partner right now, but you made the world a happier place Lloyd. Thank you.

His favourite song? “I did it my way”, by Frank Sinatra.

Stephen