Friday, 15 November 2019

Anatomy of Male Friendships

While enjoying the hospitality of the Melbourne Airport Virgin Lounge, I took time to reflect and contemplate on the 4 days just passed.

My mind meanderings took me to a dinner conversation back in 1985. The Father of a girl I was dating was reflecting on the family Christmas lunch 2 years prior and his Politician Brother who asked everyone to name at least 5 of their closest most trusted and loyal friends. Some found this relatively easy, several found it extremely difficult. It was only the Politician who was able to freely reel off 10 plus names.

At Christmas lunch the following year, the Father of the girl I was dating deciding to test a theory, asked the same question about the closest friends. Everyone was able to more easily answer including the Politician Brother who reeled of 10 or 12 names.

The thing is, those 10 or 12 names with 2 exceptions were different to those cited the previous year.

The theory was proven. Some people have passing friendships, collaborations of convenience or acquaintances where perhaps one seeks to take some advantage from the other.

True friendships survive hardship, conflict and celebration at different times and to differing degrees.

True friendships are supportive, non-judgemental, honest and power agnostic.

True friendship involves communication, apologies, unconditional acceptance, congratulating achievements and accepting failures.

They also involve sharing of success, assets, emotions and wellbeing.

I am indeed blessed that for much of the last 40 years, I could have instantly provided 7 names if asked the “name the friends question”.

I met Ian in February 1971 during our first days at Camberwell High. Through him, I met Peter who he played Hockey with at Kew (I was at Camberwell Hockey Club).  

Ian was also a Yachtsman and would go on to represent Australia including at the Admirals Cup. A fellow dingy sailor was Les.

Ted was also at Camberwell High however it was not for some years that we struck up any sort of friendship but it wasn’t close. Ted left school after year 11 but re-emerged after meeting Jenny (now wife of 30 plus years) by way of dropping in one night and subsequently becoming part of the Friday night Palace social scene.

Michael and Mathew are a few years older and as well as going to Kew High School, also played hockey at Kew. Both represented Australia at Masters level.

Brett came to Camberwell High in year 11, knew many people already and drifted in to our social set.

Hockey was the most common thread and non players Les, Brett and Ted weren’t averse to joining the off field festivities at Echuca and Albury carnivals and various other related functions.

We considered Victorian Bitter to be the drink of choice and with the exception of Michael, demonstrated how bullet proof we were by supporting the products of WD & HO Wills.

Motivated by Matthew, we also began to learn a little about the delights of red wine.

A common excursion was to Lake Eildon for House Boating and Water Skiing. Along with girl friends of the time, we would race to meet at the Golden Trout Hotel on a Friday night before travelling in convoy to the house boat mooring at Jerusalem Creek. Entry to the houseboat was subject to each male presenting a slab (carton) of VB and a flagon of Penfold Royal Reserve Port. And so would begin a weekend of fun, laughter, love, BBQ’s, eggs and bacon, water skiing, exploring estuaries, beer, port and exploding stones in the camp fire.

And much conversation, often trivial but also deep, thoughtful and meaningful conversation.

Queens Birthday long weekend in the middle of the Victorian Winter was an Eildon fixture escape for many years. We would ski in the cold of the Lake with none of the other boat traffic of the summer months. We were in our heaven.

Last Thursday night (7 November), we all convened at one of our old haunts, The Harp of Erin Hotel in Kew, before travelling the next day to Lake Eildon. Two now live in Queensland and another two in Tasmania.

There, we spent 4 days reminiscing, reflecting, supporting, challenging and conversing. We addressed the past, present and the future equally. We debated and discussed all kinds of topics ranging from the changes in our life time in gender matters, men’s health including mental health, travel experiences while always returning to our children and grandchildren.

There were many laughs and just a few tears too.

In reality, not too much had changed.

Those leaning to the right of the political spectrum were still that way inclined as were those on the left and to the middle.

The skills some have to recall every joke ever told were still present as were those with the one line put down.

Along with the odd Victoria Bitter came several superb red wines and just a little of Epernay’s finest Champagne.

48 years on, it is hard to reflect on such a gathering. There were no harsh words, arguments or nastiness.

I was looking for words to describe how I was feeling about the 4 days and of all the emotions being processed, there was one that dominated.

Overwhelmingly, I had a feeling of “gratefulness”.

To be with such a diverse group of people, with friends 48 years on from when we first started to come together represents a part of my life for which I am truly grateful.

And to the question “what does friendship mean”?

It means mutual respect, understanding, forgiveness, support and honesty all of which enables communication by conversation.

I am convinced the most important and most valuable ingredient to our enduring friendship is conversation.
 
Equally, I am convinced this necessary friendship ingredient is gender neutral. It applies to all true friendships.

Ian, Michael, Peter, Matthew, Ted, Les and Brett, thank you, it has been an honour and is one I look forward to enjoying, contributing to and drawing from for many years to come.
 
L to R    Brett, Peter, Ian, Ted, Colin     Front Row Les, Michael, Matthew
 

Peter, Matthew, Michael, Les and Brett take in the serenity

Matthew, Michael, Colin and Brett using French fluids to keep out the cold

By the fire - Ian watched by Les (back of Peter's head)

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

A Bigger Meaning - Also Captivating, Compeling, Informing, Disgusting, Challenging and More

When a book captivates, compels, informs, challenges disgusts, inspires and educates, it is worthy of a few paragraphs.

The fact the reader must always be conscious it is a work of fact and truth and not a novel for entertainment is surely evidence of superb writing making it easy and comfortable to consume, if not impossible to put down.

I am referring to Ronan Farrow’s latest work titled “Catch and Kill where he details the efforts of major news networks to Catch and then Kill the story about the long term behaviours of a one time Hollywood icon and the efforts to protect to protect him from accountability, exposure and prosecution.

Many words come to mind when seeking to describe this book and many, quite correctly are emotive.

It is scary and confronting but not a horror story, or is it?

It is an intriguing tale of spying and espionage but is not a work of fiction.

It contains heroism and cowardice where no character emerges undamaged. There is no real winner.

It includes graphic depiction of sexual encounters but it is not a work of romance or erotica.

It has examples of great courage where those displaying such courage do so after a life where their career was destroyed, character assassinated, self confidence diminished and personality altered.

It includes one story of corporate integrity but many others of perhaps the most concerning corporate governance failures imaginable.

There is intrigue, deception, lies, smear campaigns, corruption, former Massad operatives, bribery, paying off victims and witnesses, missing investigative files, determination, patience and relentless pursuit of the truth in the face of career, family and personal danger.

There is a satisfying conclusion but not an ending to be happy about.

Catch and Kill outlines the depths of behaviour a powerful person can inflict on others and the protection money can provide them to continue doing so.

The book illustrates how being party to the assets of power, wealth and status can cause people of fundamentally high morale fibre to sell out and compromise themselves to protect the provider of such assets often sacrificing their own beliefs and conscience.

The book brings to life the relentless pursuit of the facts, the truth of the perpetrators of poor behaviour and the efforts to protect the offender but as important as this is, there is an even greater lesson in the Catch and Kill story.

Catch and Kill personifies the importance of the profession of investigative Journalism. It illustrates that journalism is a key pillar in upholding the integrity and accountability of our free world systems. It illustrates the importance of an independent media prepared to publish fully researched and fact checked investigative pieces irrespective of who or what they are about. Our democracy depends upon it as does our freedom

Thank you Ronan Farrow and The New Yorker Magazine.
 
 

 

 

Friday, 9 August 2019

Rewards of Professional Sport - Until it Ends

Consider the professional sportsperson. Chances are they are living their dream and achieving the culmination of a passion that first infected them as a teenager.

Let’s not for a moment pretend it is easy. They will have sacrificed many things the rest of us take for granted. How many parties, end of school festivities, family events and coming of age celebrations did they miss due to the demand to be disciplined to a level beyond their age?

Injuries, illness, rehabilitation, training regimes, dietary requirements, recovery are challenges first faced as teenagers.

For many would be professionals, if not the majority, there is little or no return on the investment they made of their youth. The competition for success on the world stage is intense and the competition is brutal. The dream of success and the accompanying riches and fame fall to the few who are both talented and committed. Most are one or the other.

Despite this, the professional sporting life remains the obsession of tens, if not hundreds of thousands of young Men and Women. They work and compete for the chance to train incredibly hard, follow a pre-determined strict diet and a lifestyle of training, competing, recovery and rest to the exclusion of normality. They do this knowing the end is only as far away as the expiry of their current contract or a sponsor’s decision to withdraw support for any number of reasons.

During the journey, they may experience the latest technology and access to the best equipment, clothing, medical science and support structures.
 
At least the aspiring road cycling professional has a work place of exceptional beauty. For example, the French Alpes, Italy’s Dolomites, the Fields of Flanders and the beauty that is Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Poland, Norway. In the northern winter, they “endure” the delights of Adelaide and the ruggedness of the Great Ocean Road.

They get to perspire and suffer surrounded by beauty.

Stand on the side of the road as the peloton goes by and be mesmerised by the colour and beauty of their movement and energy. Be enthralled by the movement within the constantly moving bunch as the peloton as a whole continues its forward momentum, all self-propelled.

And there is danger too. In both women’s and men’s Ride London races last week, we witnessed bone breaking, carbon splintering crashes. Wheels touch, skin is left on the unforgiving road surface, bones break and heads try and penetrate bitumen. Team support staff and race Doctors pick up the pieces, bikes and people and we move on to the next race.

Life quickly returns to normal. The good life in the beautiful regions of the world starts all over again and the next race is not far away and with it, the mesmerising, colourful race peloton reforms and traces the roads for our fascination, enthusiasm and admiration.

But not always

22 year old Belgium professional Bjorg Lambrecht won’t be returning to the peloton. He will no longer experience the beauty and pain of professional cycling. Two years ago he moved to the top tier of professional cycling joining Pro Tour Team Lotto Soudal. He achieved his dream and got to live out his passion to the very end.

With some 50 kilometres to go in Monday’s 3rd stage of the Tour de Pologne, Bjorg Lambrecht crashed losing consciousness.

Reports suggest he was briefly resuscitated and rushed to hospital for emergency surgery. He passed away during surgery.

We admire from the road side, the grand stand or on our televisions the deeds of our professional sporting heroes. We pass comment, praise and critique them. We may even express via various media often uniformed opinions on their performance, tactics and character, some positive, more often not.

It’s generally only at times when a death occurs that we take a deep breath and remember just how dangerous many sports and activities are, no matter how much we cheer, idolise, criticise and critique.

Unfortunately, we are clearly reminded now.

Enjoy your sport, enjoy your cycling, spare a thought for our heroes and take care.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Dream Jobs and Nightmares

To be fair, what I am talking about was neither a “dream” or a “nightmare”, but it was an interesting learning.

When I took a break from the Corporate life, I was interested to see if I could secure some paid freelance writing work.

Such work could be stand alone projects, one off assignments and/or ideally, an agreement regular to provide content.

I have secured work mainly of a technical writing nature such as writing risk management strategies, disaster recovery plans, promotional material and the like but it took over 12 months to secure an agreement for regular writing work for a website/publication.

This opportunity came up in October 2018 when I expressed interest in submitting content for a publication concentrating on stories and matters of interest for a very specific and quite small region.

Or to put it another way, here was a chance to write an article a week and be paid for each article. There was to be no by-line or formal acknowledgement but hey, I write and they pay so it doesn’t get much better than that. Let’s call it a small dream.

Six months later, I have decided to withdraw from this arrangement. While it has definitely been no nightmare, it has been a less than satisfying experience and one that has been most revealing.

I discovered that working within such a limited scope of subject matter was very difficult and not suited to my temperament or skills. I discovered that I do not have the natural descriptive prose necessary for writing articles of this nature.

Concerning descriptive prose, I certainly worked very hard to come up with the words needed however never felt the words I used were authentically mine and often felt fake.

I also had no say in the photographs accompanying an article. I had a very clear idea in my mind of the appropriate image to accompanying an article I had written and it was frustrating to have no say in this.

I enjoy writing and tend not to fuss about whether I am any good or not. I compare it too the 24-handicap golfer who simply loves playing each week. I love to write even if only for my own enjoyment

I enjoyed the technical writing assignments and would happily do more work of this type.
I enjoyed the research this often involved discovered and learning new things. For example, I previously had no idea of the cultural sensitivities to be aware of when travelling through Sweden.

As far as other writing is concerned, if anyone wants to pay someone to write articles about whatever is on their mind that day, takes their fancy or prompts their interest about any subject what-so-ever, I am available.

I suspect I will have to indulge myself in blogging and the satisfaction that brings. Income aside, I guess that is the dream job.

And also, get a real job.

Thanks for reading

Monday, 3 June 2019

What I Discovered During 11 Week Absence From Facebook


On 16 March, I posted a photo on my Facebook timeline taken from the window of a Virgin Boeing as it landed in Brisbane. It was of a wet and dreary tarmac. That was 11 weeks ago and I have not visited Facebook since.

It wasn’t a conscious decision to stay away, it just happened. One day became 2, became 3. The days became weeks and the weeks added up.

I had never seen myself as someone who constantly updates their timeline. If anything, my posts are predictable, repetitious, even boring and inevitably include a photo of a sunrise.

I see my world as unremarkable.

These last weeks, I have been contemplating leaving Facebook for good but before doing so, gave consideration to what I would be missing out on, and if I have missed anything these last 11 weeks.

During this time, I became a Grand Uncle for the second time and chances are, I have not seen any, or many photos of Penelope, or her Sister.

I have friends living overseas and now have an 11 week gap in what is happening in their world, their adventures and removations.

Another friend is exploring Kangaroo Island and I have only seen the occasional photo by way of a message.

Yet another has been heading to Darwin via the West Australian coast. He is “notorious” for taking great photographs and I have missed them all.

Another has just left for the Women’s World Cup (Soccer), others have run marathons in Boston and London, trekked the Camino and cycled the Dolomites, not to forget an epic bike ride from Land's End to John O'Groats.

We all have friends. All are important and in our ever busy and complex lives, we do not find or make time to call, e-mail, write or message as often as we might have done in the past. 
That’s not to say we care less, are less interested or desire to be less connected.

Facebook has facilitated the refreshing of friendships past. Work colleagues from an era that was far more carefree, pre children and where the biggest problem was having enough money left over each week to go out for a beer.

Facebook has allowed the finding of school friends and forming some effectively new, valuable and fulfilling friendships. There is something very special about getting to know again, people I last knew at age 18.

For all I know, during the last 11 weeks friends have become engaged, become grandparents, parents or suffered loss. New jobs have commenced, new adventures embarked upon and I am none the wiser.

I understand that Facebook can be toxic, biased, cruel, horrible and divisive but ultimately, we get to choose what we participate in and how we interact with the platform.

My 11 week Facebook sabbatical has allowed me to understand and newly appreciate the people in my life and in a very real way, these include Facebook Friends.

Besides, if I do return to Facebook, I will miss the inside action of the Women’s World Cup. Let the photos flow Geoff.  

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Give our Women a Chance - Open Letter to Cycling Australia

Dear Cycling Australia,

It is great that the Women’s Tour Down under is again providing prize money equal to the Men’s race. Congratulations Cycling Australia and Tour Down Under.

I think I am correct in saying the TDU pioneered equal prize money along with the Tour of Britain.

We do however, fall well behind the Women’s Tour of Britain when it comes to mainstream media coverage and in particular, TV exposure during the first 3 stages.

Australia should be proud of our Women road cyclist. In addition to World number 3, we boost the likes of Chloe Hosking, Sarah Roy, Tiffany Cromwell, Shannon Malseed, Rachel Neylen and Brodie Chapman to name a few.

They all represent inspirational examples of social responsibility, courtesy, appreciation. Health, fitness, resilience and dedication.

They are an excellent basis upon which to promote this great event and promote Womens sport.

Cycling is a highly, even brutally competitive sport and the level of competition grows each year.

Continued growth depends on attracting and retaining both participants and competitors.

Never has the competition to attract Women sportspeople been more fierce. Genuine, high profile opportunities now present in Cricket, Soccer, AFLW and other football codes, all of which have mass media coverage.

It is no coincidence women participation numbers in these sports have sky rocketed.

I imagine many young women and girls were captivated last weekend by the achievement of Sarah Gigante. Equally representative of cycling was how she conducted herself after being awarded National Champion honours.

It is such a pity these same young women and girls will be denied easy access to stages 1 to 3 of our greatest race and the chance to further embrace our great sport.

It is time to invest the funds needed to provide TV coverage of the Women’s Tour equivalent to the Men’s event.

I would even venture to say the return on such an investment would far exceed that of equal prize money.

See you in Adelaide.

Yours sincerely

 

Colin Morley

CA Member 145095

Cyclist and Cycling follower

 

Monday, 18 June 2018

Repeating Leadership Mistakes of 1802

I am returning from a 6 week “blogging” break and what is by far my longest period without posting in well over 12 months.

It’s not that I have been inactive, just that I have been somewhat occupied with other projects.

One such project has had me deep in research about matters concerning the settlement and opening up of what I will call European Australia.

Like many, during my school years I studied the exploits of many notable explorers including Matthew Flinders.

The exploits of Flinders are well known and undeniably significant. What was news to me was the achievements of other explorers in mapping the Australian Coastline.

Nicolas Baudin was a French explorer plying the coastal waters of Australia at the same time as Flinders. He departed France a few months before Flinders left England in 1801 but following some doubtful decisions, both explorers arrived in Australia waters at about the same time where they adopted quite separate exploration strategies.

Many reports suggest that Baudin may not have been the best of leaders and there are many accounts of decisions he made that made little or no sense. He quite regularly became separated from the second ship in his convoy and ventured in to areas and regions at times of the year well known to be inhospitable.

The was no actually uprising under his command however strong actions were taken at times to quell a potential mutiny.

He did however perform significant work and in many ways, work as significant as that credited to Flinders. His legacy suffered to a large degree by him making the mistake of succumbing to disease and passing away when only a few months from home allowing his second in command to write a record of history that gave himself most of the credit and blamed Baudin for any errors. Baudin and Flinders paths crossed on two occasions and as a result of them sharing information, Flinders was able to correct much of the misinformed deeds of his rival

As my research progressed, it occurred to me that Nicholas Baudin reflected the qualities and behaviours of far too many of today’s leaders in business, the public sector and politics.

Baudin lacked the ability to encourage the opinions and advice of others and when it was forthcoming, he was unable to accept or process it.

Just like many of today’s business, public sector and political leaders

Further Baudin was had an ego of a size that far exceeded any substance for such an ego. He also presided over an environment of mistrust between himself, his support team and crew, his communication was evasively and he was indecisive, inconsistent and divisive.

Just like many of today’s business, public sector and political leaders.

However, despite leadership shortcoming, Baudin and todays business, public sector and political leaders shared another common trait. Nicholas Baudin was was a great observer and possessed great wisdom and would have been a far more valuable contributor if not elevated to an outright Leadership position.

The expedition commanded by Nicholas Baudin achieved many things but did so at great cost. The time allowed for the venture was exceeded by 30% and the cost of the venture exceeded budget several fold. Many lives were also lost.

Of greater cost was the many broken spirits of his Officers and Crew.  

The true cost of poor leadership be it on a voyage of discovery in the early 1800’s or in our business, public sector or political realms today is the breaking of human spirits. It is the feelings of worthlessness, lack of appreciation and lack of meaning that comes from feeling excluded or that the only purpose is to do a job of work for the personal benefit and glory of others.

Will we ever learn this fundamental principal?

As for the wisdom of Nicholas Baudin, if more attention had been given to the observations outlined in a letter he wrote in November 1802 to the then Governor of New South Wales, Australia would be a world leader by way of a more cohesive and positive culture and a more diverse and inclusive community than we enjoy today.

But. for that to have happened, Governor King would have had to be better equipped to processes and consider the advice and opinions offered by others. Sadly, he was not. (more on this another time)