Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Could Of, Would Have, Should Have and a Harley

Is there anything you “Could Of” done but for whatever reason, did not?

What are the things you “Would Have” done then, but for whatever reason did not?

Are there events or actions you “Should Have” engaged in but didn’t?

If your answer to all the above is “No”, congratulations.

Ours is an era where age should be less of a restriction than ever before. We are living longer and can remain highly active far later in life than generations past.

Fifty year old’s are taking up marathon running and 60 year old’s are returning to University to study the subject and profession denied them in their youth.

Fifteen years ago I listened as a friend expressed regret at never learning to ride a motorbike. A month or two ago she took delivery of a Harley Davidson.

She could have learned to ride in her twenties and should have. She also would have if not for the negative encouragement of her then Partner.

Now in her late 40’s, instead of living with the regret of not learning to ride a motorbike, she took control and has achieved her ambition.

It can be something far simpler than a Harley Davidson.

Another friend had a passion from the age of 15 to work in professional cycling. Many years later he is working in a totally unrelated field however, instead of living with regret, he has taken a small step and commenced a World Cycling Tour related Blog.

While this is not exactly “working” in professional cycling, it is a form of participating in the sport and who knows where it may lead. What is certain, if he had done nothing, nothing would ever happen. It is early days however he is already attracting about 200 readers a day.
It could be that you always wanted to grow vegetables, cook Chinese food or fly model aircraft.

I seem to have been inundated with expressions of work dis-satisfaction this last week. I have heard multiple tales of longings for the Easter break and 4 days away from the drudgery of work after which another way to cope will have to be found.

I have heard several tales of dissatisfaction around the direction a career has taken accompanied in two cases by statements of regret for not applying for another role when the chance was there. A classic “Should Have” scenario.

It is never to late to re-visit the Coulds, Woulds and Shoulds of our life and to take steps to eliminate them from our life.

We are forever been told about the limitless opportunities available. Chances are we tell others and in particular those younger than us, just that.

The opportunities are there for us too and we can set an example to all.

You only need to look at my Harley Davidson owning friend. She enrolled in motorbike riding lessons, obtained her licence, developed her skills, enjoyed it immensely, upgraded her licence and bought a Harley.

When she talks to her daughters about following their dreams, she can do so having done just that herself. She has the credibility of having walked the walk.

She has removed a key regret of her life.

Imagine if we all set about doing the same.


Monday, 19 March 2018

Change The Workplace Behaviour Narative

We have National, or International Day’s to promote a cause, remember a significant historical event or draw attention to something and seemingly anything.
Some days are trivial while others are ground breaking and important. Some days are well publicised while others pass largely unnoticed.
Last Friday appears to be one that passed largely unnoticed despite it being a day we were being called upon to act on a matter of significant importance.
Friday 16 March was “National Day Against Bullying and Violence”.
I am sure we all agree this to be a day worthy of attention.
However, I am quickly forming the opinion that such a day would be better expressed in a positive narrative aimed on achieving positive sustainable actions and activities.  
It is better to act “for something” rather than “against something”.
How different would it be to call the day:-

"National Day of Compassion, Understanding, Respect, Courtesy and Decency?"

By way of example, let's look at the workplace.
If you have changed employers in recent years, chances are you had some form of new starter training. Further, you may even have had to complete some accreditations.
There is a high probability the first things you were taught about your new employer was their anti-bullying, anti-discrimination, workplace harassment and equal opportunity policies.
Examples would have been provided of bullying behaviours and other unacceptable practices.
Instead of educating against poor behaviour, would it not be far more effective, positive and sustainable to educated for good behaviour?
How powerful would it be if a workplace made it clear that the minimum requirement is use of the words “Please and Thank you”? Very old fashioned, but very classy too.
What if smiling and saying good morning to colleagues and using their name was adopted as the proper and courteous thing to do?
From the Board Table down, speaking in a refrained and cordial tone is expected and swearing is frowned upon.

Addressing bullying and appropriate workplace behaviour by re-setting the narrative to the positive must surely represent a better way. If nothing else, it is worth a try because it can be argued the current approach is not working. It does however tick a box.
The problem is, what I propose is far more difficult and needs to be practiced by all, at all levels, all of the time.
Then again, nothing worthwhile is easy.
All it needs is an employer genuinely committed to a safe, positive and equal workplace.
An employer who means what they say rather than just wanting to “tick the proverbial box.”


Friday, 16 March 2018

The Cost of Kindness

Yesterday, one of my connections posted an article on LinkedIn..

It wasn’t an article aimed at educating us about the next new thing to help of our businesses achieve something wonderful. lep top the next level of growth, sales of revenue.

It was not an article inspiring Leadership, motivation, meditation or mindfulness.

It was not about team building, presentation skills or the latest IT development.

It was far more insightful and important.

The article was a challenge to all readers to perform a random act of kindness and to record it in the comments section. Further, the author offered an incentive to do so in the form of a donation to a charity.

The last time I looked, there was but a single comment.

I have enough faith in humanity to believe and act of kindness was performed by more than one reader, leaving me pondering if we are embarrassed by sharing what it is we do to help others.

I wondered if we consider sharing such acts as being a weakness?

Alternatively, do we perform acts of kindness with no desire for any recognition?

Chances are it is a combination of both with an emphasis on the later.

Moving on.

I attended a meeting at a café earlier today with someone who I have met with regularly over nearly 30 years now.

He went to the counter and ordered, long black for two one (his) with hot milk on the side.

About 10 minutes later, one of the staff came to our table and handed him his credit card. I asked if they had a problem with their EFTPOS machine because I have cash and can pay.

In an evasive manner, he said they didn’t.

Further questioning revealed he had paid for the order of an Ambulance officer who joined the queue a few places behind him and leaving his card for payment, it was now being returned to him

He subsequently told me that for 15 years or more, whenever he notices a police officer, ambulance officer, fireperson or nurse, he quietly and confidentially arranges to pay for their coffee order asking the café to say their order has been paid for by another patron who wants to thank them for all they do for the community.

He added, while all these people choose their work and are paid for it, no amount of money is adequate compensation for some of the situations they find themselves in and if my little gesture of thanks makes a tiny difference, then we are all better off.

The events of today have left me wondering if we should be more open about our acts of kindness.

Australian culture is one where we frown upon those who talk themselves up or self-promote however, perhaps we over do this.

We are forever being lectured about the example we set to the next generation and being good role models but we tend to only address this is the wake of a negative occurrence.

There are so many ways to help someone or to perform an act of kindness. It may be helping a parent put a pram in a car, holding the door open for an elderly couple or assisting someone in the Medicare office struggling with the paper work.

It may be buying a coffee for a Cop or Ambo.

Being a little more open about such acts is a most tangible and meaningful example to everyone.

May your weekend be satisfying, energising, educational and enchanting, plus all else you want it to be.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Rugby - A Brand in Decline

This may evolve in to one of those retrospective articles about the good old days.

Then again, there is no such thing because today is no more than the "good old day" of the future so every day in every era is technical good.

But I digress.

There was a time when I would attend all representative locally staged games.
The weekend Queensland played New South Wales in Brisbane was a major event on the annual sporting calendar and we were all encouraged to come along and “boo a blue”.

The Queensland players were as well known as any of the other local sporting identities and Andrew Slack was captain of Queensland and Australia.

I followed Rugby closely and enjoyed a great day out on game day at Ballymore, ending in post-game analysis under the grand stand consuming some of the major sponsor’s product.

Rugby had not yet entered the professional era and drew most of its players from Queensland’s private schools.

I can hardly name a current Queensland player and hardly noticed when the season started a few weeks ago.

The new Women’s Rugby competition started last week and again, if I did not know one of the players from the first women’s team of 1996, I would not have been aware of this event.

Over time, the maroons became the reds and now if I boo a blue, I am booing a team from South Africa, or is it New Zealand.

Other than New South Wales, Auckland was always the arch rival of Queensland however I have no idea which team represents Auckland now.

Rugby has lost out in the battle for sporting exposure and as such, has lost many followers and with it, perhaps its long term future.

A  days past, a player with the fundamental skills to play a Rugby code, League or Union, would make a decision as to the direction they would go. And, there were very different reasons for choosing one over the other.

Now, the only reason is money.

Rugby is not only losing the battle for an audience but is losing the battle in Australia for the elite athlete. The elite male at least

I have grave doubts of the Rugby brand ever recovering and of Australia’s ability to remain an elite Rugby nation.

I usually like to conclude an article such as this with some kind of suggested solution, however, in this case, I wonder if there is one.
Perhaps the Women's game will spike interest and bring greater awareness to the sport. This has certainly been the case with Soccer, AFL and Cricket. The difference is, these sports were not faltering in the first place.  
In Women's Super Rugby there is a new competition to promote and a need to grasp the opportunity while it is still new.
It was great to see 8 or 10 of the first ever Queensland Women's Rugby Team from 20 years ago attending the first game of the new Women's Super Rugby competition last week. I hope they were properly looked after however I suspect they may well have paid for their own tickets on a day when they could have been publically celebrated for being the original pioneers of representative Women's Rugby.

Then again, today is the good old day of a decades’ time, so all is ok, apparently.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

When Winning Meant Everything To Me

My upbringing was heavily surrounded by competitive team sport.

It was very much an environment where the measure of success was being ahead on the scoreboard when the game ends.

It was not quite a win at all costs or a whatever it takes mentality but close to it.

Aggression was expected whereas violence was not tolerated, nor was any act deemed cowardly.

The umpire’s decision was final, however if you could break a rule and get away with it, that was ok. It was also ok to apply pressure to an umpire in the hope of receiving a more favourable outcome next time, if that helped me win.

There was a requirement for the team came first over and above any individual glory or achievement. Awards celebrating personal success were frowned upon and highest goal scoring awards or batting average trophies were despised. The team scored the goal not the individual.

As a golfer, I had no performance expectations and as such, this was the only sport I could ever play socially, or just for fun. For everything else, fun was only in the winning.

I took much of this approach in to my working life.

I would look at most things in terms of a competition to be won, or to be lost. Most interactions were viewed as contest and my team in this environment became my work colleagues in the department or division I was a part of at that time.

On the sporting field, I was not seeking to be popular or liked but I hoped to be respected. It was the same in business.

The main thing was to at worst ensure I was not letting the team down and at best, making the major contribution to team success. Looking back, it is with no pride that I admit my competitiveness could at times be quite brutal and un-compromising, in sport and in business.

I prided myself on being direct in communication and opinion without regard of how I left another person feeling, or the negative impact this had on them.

About 15 years ago I tempered my ways. I was aware my approach was destructive to me and to others.

I consciously and deliberately changed from treating every situation as one to emerge from in victory.

For a few years I perhaps over compensated and became too passive or mellow but eventually found what I hope was an appropriate balance and more so, I hope those I worked with benefited from this. I know I did.

Why am I reflecting on this now?

There is someone who dominates our news cycle each and every day and who directly and indirectly impacts the lives of much of the world’s population. I suspect he too has a tendency to view everything in terms of winning or losing however in his case, this is magnified many times greater than I could ever have imagined.

Also, there is no team glory only his own.

Where will it all end?

At best, it will end when he is surrounded by people who only ever endorse whatever it is he wants to Tweet about in that moment.

At worst, it will end with something unfathomable.

Unfortunately, achieving the “best” outcome may only accelerate the “worst”.

A “no win” situation if ever there was one.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Exercising Creative Solutions

I was getting nowhere.

I am sure you have experienced the feeling of having a piece of work to do and spending hours, getting nowhere.

I was drafting content for a new website. I understood the brief and the feeling required. I understood the subject matter and the objective of this section of the new website.

If it were 20 years ago, the paper bin would have been full of discarded drafts.

This was not even a long piece; 200 words at most and not at all technical.

I usually write in silence however if the task is proving to be a challenge, there is an instrumental music set by Tony O’Connor that I fall back on to release my creative flow.

The set lasts 50 minutes and when it concluded, I was no more advanced than when it started.

I know, I need coffee. Back to back coffees later and I still had nothing worthy of publishing.

Sadly, If I was writing this for myself, I would simply have changed topics and started something new, or even worse, lowered my standards and gone with it anyway.

My task has to be completed today so it was getting to the stages of last resort.

There was a time when “last resort” would have had me reaching for a glass of wine, a whiskey or at one stage, a glass of port but those days are far, far behind me.

Instead, I found myself saying, literally saying out loud, “going for a run will fix it”.

I was somewhat surprised at this solution presenting itself and rejected it on the basis that disappearing for an hour or more was not going to get the content written.

Twenty minutes and no progress later, I changed, stretched, warmed up and started a run.

The path and grass were damp from recent rainfall and while the sun was shining, menacing rain clouds were in the distance. Not to worry, I had work to do.

Relaxing in to an easy pace (in reality I only have one pace) I found myself drafting in my mind the content I was after and doing so clearly, easily and concisely.

It all came together in my mind, fluently and precisely as I wanted it to read and to feel.

I went over it several times to make sure I would remember it when sitting at the keyboard and having satisfied myself I would, I relaxed further in to the run.

I found myself wondering what would have happened if I had an injury and was not able to run today?

I realised the run itself was not the key factor in the solution.

The solution to my dilemma was to change the environment and the energy I was in. It just so happened the run I went for facilitated this.

How many day in day out challenges or problems are out there waiting for a quick, correct and different solution?

I recall many hours spent in meetings discussing issues and as impatience set in, a less than optimal solution being agreed.

I wonder how powerful it would be if team members and leaders were empowered to meet a challenge or find the optimal solution by changing their physical environment. Imagine if meeting in a park or by a river was deemed acceptable? What could happen if 3 team members headed for the gym and had a treadmill or step class instead of clambering around the table with the obligatory whiteboard wall hanging.

Surely this is a far more positive action to unleash some creative thinking and problem solving than the traditional trek to the coffee shop or the bar.
Sadly, it may not be as acceptable.

Monday, 12 March 2018

You Are Not Helping My Goals - So..........

Who decides what the theme of the week is?

I am starting to suspect someone, somewhere sits down each week and by themselves, or with others, make a decision as to what will be the social media theme of the week.

Last week it seemed many posts, and shared/re-tweeted posts addressed the idea of removing from our friend and acquaintance list anyone not making a positive contribution to our goals. This covered multiple platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

Just wipe them, unfriend, unfollow or formally communicate the relationship or collaboration is over, done, dusted, finite.

Or don’t.

Before using the words, I wrote above, I went back and cross checked a number of posts. I needed to be sure of the context and to make sure the theme I detected was true.

Sadly, it was.

It is one thing to remove from our life those who cause us pain and hurt. It is even ok to remove those who we know are negative. (I guess).

However, the theme that seemed to come through last week was a great deal more brutal.

I confirmed the encouragement or suggestion was to remove all and anyone not making a positive contribution to our goals.
Putting it more succinctly, if you are not helping me get what I want, I don’t want to know you.

If it was remove those who harm you, ok, but it wasn’t.

How did we get to this?

I know someone with a goal to live and work in New York City. I do nothing to progress him achieving his goal so should he all of a sudden be unavailable for our coffee catch-ups?

I know someone else who has a driving goal to restore Tony Abbot as Prime Minister. I am certainly doing nothing to assist this, quite the opposite probably. We meet most weeks to discuss business matters and cricket and usually end up arguing politics. He should wipe me too.

Perhaps this is fall out from Trumpism and the idea that if you are not 100% for me, you are against me.

Whatever the reason, I find it to be a quite disturbing and even destructive trend and one I hope is an aberration.

Thankfully there was some balance today when a friend posted this.
As for a trend this week, it is only day one however there seems to be quite a deal of activity about concentrating on what we do best.

Lets see how that evolves over the coming days.