Would you do that?

We visited the Erebus memorial at Waikumete Cemetery yesterday on the Authentic Leadership Programme. Then we travelled back to Waitakere Estate through the beautiful Scenic Drive and watched a powerful movie of corporate greed and fraud.

Our natural instincts are that we wouldn’t get involved in that sort of activity – we wouldn’t cover up the mishandling of the flight path that might have caused a plane crash – we wouldn’t sacrifice our values and integrity for money, would we?

We’d hope not. But circumstances can make people do things that they wouldn’t think they are capable of. I know, I’ve seen it in multiple fraud cases over the years. When I was at the Serious Fraud Office, most of the people we prosecuted didn’t start out as crooks. But a combinations of circumstances (pressure or greed), opportunity (no one can see) and justification (I deserve it or it’s mine) can turn ordinary, honest men and women into criminals.

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So what to do about it? I think of my values as my valuables – I try not to leave them lying around, I protect them and I know where they are at all times. Of course there’s a lot more to it but that’s a good start.

We should also pay attention to our lies. Sound confronting? Wise leaders are intentionally clear about their communication and don’t use weasel words that allow for mis-interpretation.

As I write this the leaders on the Programme are recording those five ethical considerations that they won’t allow to be compromised. Then they’re drafting a legacy.

One goes with the other.

Stephen

Sacrificing your reputation for short term gain

When I visited and stayed at the FBI Academy at Quantico, Virginia in 2000 before 9/11 I was issued with an access card to get around the facility. Part way through the stay I mislaid the card. I went to the public reception and a harried receptionist thrust a box of cards at me. “Take what you need“she said, so I reissued myself with a card and carried on. She had no idea who I was, whether I was entitled to be there, whether I should have access or if I did what my purpose was. You wouldn’t have needed a leaker inside to find the secrets of the FBI then!

I assume things are a bit tighter now. It certainly seems that way traveling through LA.

Since the FBI Director James Comey released information that a batch of emails on an unrelated investigation may be relevant to Hillary Clinton (but that he had no actual idea whether or not they were), it’s come out that FBI Agents have been leaking information to the media because they dislike Clinton.

The FBI has always held a special place in the world of law enforcement. It has led and continues to lead, many facets of forensics – in fraud, technology, weaponry – and the physical environment. It has shown itself to be impartial, thoroughindependent and thorough.

That deserved reputation has been built up over decades by thousands of Agents on thousands of case.

That reputation is at serious risk right now, and may be damaged for some time if the allegations of leaking and partiality prove to be true (or even not disproven).

Whatever you might have in your trust bank can unwind a great reputation quickly by hasty actions in the heat of the moment. For law enforcement independence is often the first thing that fails.

Whatever your big thing is, treasure it and don’t give it up for short term gain.

Stephen

 

 

The value in a road trip

Driving from Avignon to Florence is one amazing drive. Viaduct follows tunnel follows viaduct. The count on the trip in 2013 was over 150 tunnels. The road is narrow compared to most New Zealand motorways and expressways – there isn’t a wide verge that is the norm here. The driving is fast, accurate and everyone keeps right except when overtaking. I loved the cars too: Fiats, Lancias (we don’t get them here now), Porsches, Ferraris, Range Rovers, oh and of course a few BMWs.

Acting out our freedom value
Acting out our values

Despite the fact I commute mainly on two wheels now (see next blog), I love a road trip. The other day I was in Taupo and with the traffic light on the Waikato Expressway, drivers mainly keeping left, on cruise control I had a mini relapse back to Italy,

There were four of us for about 40 kilometres –  me, a Chrysler V8, a BMW motorcycle and a fourth car I didn’t identify – all travelling in convoy, in respect, at steady speed. A great part of a great road trip.

In the past I’ve reflected on the joy of the road trip. Whenever I’ve thought about the ideal holiday, car travel comes to mind.

I’ve enjoyed driving since the day I first drove on my 15th birthday. That feeling of freedom behind the wheel on the open road is still with me.

What’s your most important value? What do you do to exercise that value to bring meaning and joy?

Tauranga on Friday! Can’t wait.

Stephen

Competition for Carlton

Saving up my paper round money I bought the beautiful Raleigh Royale 5-speed from Linwood Cycles, I think for about $145. It was a lovely machine, I wanted a ten speed but this was the machine on offer at the right time. It got stolen once by local ratbags (who turned into more serious criminals I learned), but I recovered it. So when I traded it up for a Carlton Competition from the bike shop in Papanui Road, I memorised the serial number and for some strange reason that number has stayed with me.

Rides up Dyers Pass Road, all around the Port Hills and Banks Peninsula, no helmet but toe clips to add power. I was so taken with it I kept it in my bedroom. Gleaming white and fast.

A few decades have gone by and I’m back on a road bike. The principle is the same, but a few things have improved. Weight, combined brake and gear shift levers, smoother gear shifts and a computer that tells me things I don’t yet know what they are (but apparently if I keep it at 80 then I’m having a good workout I think). The tyres seem pretty skinny and although there’s a puncture repair kit under the seat the Uber App might be the solution if I’m on my own when the inevitable happens! Chris at Cyco told me that you don’t glue patches onto the inner tube any more! Crushed. Toe clips have been replaced by clip in shoes and so far so good, I haven’t forgotten to come out at the lights.

Cycling is really so so much fun and being back on a commuter bike for the last 18 months I’ve learned quite a bit, with mostly good experiences. The road bike though, takes me back to being a teenager and the freedom I felt on the bike then is back.

I never articulated to myself at the time that it was freedom-giving, but for sure that’s what it was then, and what it is now.

The Carlton was a beauty at the time, just as the new one is special now.

So although Trek won’t be coming into the bedroom anytime soon, it’s a link back to an early experience of a most important value that so many don’t have.

Stephen

p.s.  Linwood Cycles is still there, by the look of Google Maps in the same place.

These are the good old days part II!

I bounded up the stairs just now at home having returned from the movies alone. At my farewell lunch with colleagues from AUT just before Christmas I was taken to blog about the good old days. Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris explores both the glorious beauty of Paris and the good old days. On his midnight strolls through Paris whilst visiting with his fiance and future in-laws, Gil Pender, a screenwriter and budding author,  travels back to the good old days. He finds himself mixing with Hemmingway, Picasso and others. Okay, so it’s not real, but hell, you don’t go to the movies for reality!

It’s a delightful romantic comedy and I can’t believe it took me so long to see it. This week I started my new role at PwC. There’s been grief from parting and finishing and wondering whether I was living in the good old days these last few years. Now I know I was for certain.

In the last year or so I’ve come to know a very special man, the poet Sam Hunt, and now be privileged to help him to find more places to perform to those that would appreciate him. He offers much to those seeking to find their grounding and understand their moral compass. Beyond Martin Seligman’s pleasant life of material pleasures, beyond the good life of maximising capability and achievement to the meaningful life characterised by connectedness to a greater whole.

I am not sure yet why I am connecting these diverse events – the good old days, Midnight in Paris, Sam Hunt and the meaningful life, but it’ll come as we continue.

I don’t always have it, but I have enough of a sense of the meaningful life to value it, want it and know that it is my key to happiness.  I’m honoured to have such a reputable firm as PwC take a chance on me to make a difference for them and add value both to them and their clients. I’ll try my best to do so.

Midnight in Paris reminded me to treasure the meaning I already have, and the meaning I am once again starting to build in a new place.  But starting new isn’t really starting new. It’s building on what exists and all the meaning I have built in leadership development, before that in investigation, and more recently connecting with Sam, is part of that base.

It was scary, but now it’s exciting and much more connected. Whatever you do, connect it with what brings meaning. Otherwise, why do it?

There’s a line: meaning for happiness. Maybe that should have been the title of the blog.

Stephen

Fessing up is so good

Peter Marshall who has been the police commissioner for two days said on the radio today that the organisation needed to address the issues raised in the PWC report. This compares with the previous leadership who’s reaction I blogged about in January.

When something is wrong with an organisation’s culture it’s easy and defensive to blame those that found out about it for not doing a proper job, or for someone reporting it. When that happens you’re on a slippery slope to defensive nowhereland. Time to retire probably.

On the other hand for Marshall to publicly state there are pockets of officers who don’t get it, who need to or go, is gutsy to start with and in the end absolutely the best thing he could do for the police.

He won’t root out all the officers himself, but clear unambiguous statements from the leader of such an important organisation in our society are critical to success. Other police leaders should be in no doubt as to what is expected.

As I said in my previous blog, there shouldn’t be any tolerance for the sort of behaviours identified in the report. I hope we’re getting back on track with all our police.

I say well done. A great start. Great leadership.

Stephen

Time to cull the rotten part of the culture

True Colours

My friends from Melbourne have gone, leaving as they always do, a selection of olives, cheeses, sun dried tomatoes, cold meats and other delectable items which I’ve turned into a colourful, tasty and nutritious meal to suit me right now.  It’s a rainy evening, this Equinox, and I’m cosy after a 26km run and shower. Comfortable.

This boy unknown to me at the Grey Lynn Festival in November seemed very proud of his new colours!

Speaking of running, we had two marathon Seinfeld sessions and I’m continuing tonight solo. Jerry and Kramer have just run into someone who called Jerry a phoney five years ago. “Is Jerry still mad at me for the phoney comment?”. “Oh no” said Kramer “it’s water near a bridge!”.  “Maybe I’ll see you in another five years”, said Jerry.

At the risk of showing your true colours sometimes you feel the need to say something that has the potential to cause injury. In your own language, the truth might hurt. In the recipient’s eyes, you’re showing unpleasant, but true colours.

Last week I ran a great workshop on story telling (well I thought is was great anyway!). As you might expect I started with a story. The story started with the events of 22 February 2011 with my son Thomas and Dad in Christchurch. And somehow I went to a classic photograph of my parents in 1952 in Queen Street, taken by a roving street photographer and restored by me for their 55th wedding anniversary (actually the credit for the restoration goes to my talented former assistant Ivana Dimovski). The photograph stirs deep thoughts in me, of a young couple in love and makes me reflect back over the 48 years or so that my DNA has been part of that union. And because it means that much I like to be clear.  So in the weekend I had a ‘showing my true colours’  moment, because something challenged my values that I didn’t think had been properly dealt with.

So this blog is written I admit with a slightly bruised feeling – I’m the one that’s done the bruising – and I don’t feel flash for doing it. Funny how you can bruise yourself when showing your true colours. And I forgot the power of the story for a moment – I did the telling bit, but not the story with all it’s grit, love, rights, wrongs and meaning. And without doubt I made somethings that were actually good, not good, to justify my sense of wrong.

The story of life is gritty and true colour moments come and go.  With those that really matter they are building blocks to greater meaning. Nice words, probably true, but I need to tell myself, easy fella, make sure I don’t do more harm than good in my truth moments. And remind myself that the buttons that get pushed – mine is usually around transparency when the water is still near the bridge – are my buttons, not everyone elses.

And the couple in the photograph in 1952 are just the best parents you could ever ask for and if you don’t know that about someone special in your life, maybe you’re afraid of the true colour moment, maybe you never recovered from a true colour moment, maybe the water is near the bridge and you haven’t had the courage to let it flow. Whatever the reason don’t wait for the next Equinox to realise that it’s time to sort it. And don’t save up some crap until the next Equinox either.

I recently wrote about a cousins barbecue at the memory-filled Stanmore Bay where most of us there shared some DNA.  But remember, your DNA only lasts for so long.

Stephen