Empowerment

I was in my mid thirty’s and I was acting CEO for 18 months in a difficult time for the company.

The business had lost a major supplier which was going to lower our turnover significantly. As a consequence of this I was heading into a meeting with one of our suppliers with one of our product management team to let them know we were still in a strong trading position. I recall walking into the meeting with Rebecca as she turned to me and asked me a question….

“What do you think we should say to them Andrew”?
I turned to her and said, “I don’t know, what do you think we should say”? (because I really didn’t have any idea what we should say being new to this business)
She said, “I think we should say this”….and so that became our plan and it was a really successful meeting.

Years later Rebecca came to me and said "you remember that meeting we went into Andrew where you asked me what we should say"? I responded with a really clear yes. She said to me that was the most empowering thing anyone has ever done for me in my working life because I was able to decide for myself and you gave me confidence.

It reminded me that as leaders we don’t always need to ‘lead’ or ‘be in control’ of situations. Allowing everyone to succeed and fail on their own at times is one of life’s greatest lessons.

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A life lesson at the traffic lights

I was driving along a busy road in Auckland and pulled up to an intersection where a traffic light that had just turned red. I had a good friend of mine in the car and I let out an audible growl when I saw the light turn red. He looked at me and said “a bit stressed there are you Hogman” and I replied yeah, I am. He said “did you want to get through that light and now you feel stuck” and My answer was again a resounding YES.

Then he looked at me and asked the weirdest question. He said “what if the traffic light was actually speaking to you”? 

At this point I looked at him with the you’re crazy look. “What if the traffic light was giving you an opportunity to reconsider your journey”? “You may want to turn left, you may want to go right or you may want to turn around and go back the way you came”?

This lesson from a traffic light talking to me has provided me with a backbone to pausing and reflecting on my life, my decisions and my relationships over time and helps me particularly when I am looking ahead into an uncertain future to grasp the greatest clarity that I can before I make my next move….

Since that life changing discussion I now try to use every traffic light as my ‘pause’ and consider moments. Sometimes I look around at other people and wonder what’s going on in their minds however mostly I pause and think about where I am going and where I ‘should’ be going.

It was a little later that I hit a red light that gave me the opportunity to reconsider my life. In fact the red light was actually a brick wall. More on that later…

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Doing meaningful work

Years ago, I read the tremendous book Gung Ho which focuses on the meaning of work and understanding and embracing the contribution we all make. Watching a squirrel work demonstrates an important principle along these lines. The squirrels work hard to gather because they know that the winter is coming and if they if they don’t have enough food gathered they will die in the cold. Therefore, their work is important. The work however moves beyond important….it is worthwhile and they all understand it as being worthwhile. In the same way the work we do as humans has to be understood as important and then it has to lead to well understood and shared goals that are shared with our colleagues. The learnings we draw from this work will lead to the creation of values we agree on, creation of all plans, decisions and actions.

I have found that people have to understand what they do and how it contributes to the well-being of humankind. We do this by measuring the activity’s that we engage in people terms rather than by units. E.g. by doing what I am doing right now, what sort of impact do I have on the lives of others? The other important factor is to understand how the specific role we fulfil fits into the big picture and end result.

May we all live and work with a sense of contribution and live a Gung-Ho life!


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Whatever happened to Ebenezer Scrooge?

As Charles Dickens famous story concludes, Scrooge discovers life is not about money but PEOPLE. He finds in his heart that he actually cares for others. He cares for their financial circumstances and how they are physically. He finds a way to help the community and devote himself to good around him. He finds out that money is good for the good it can do.

His priority shifts! Where he once saved money and used people, he now uses money to save people. His priority with money now becomes to make as much as he can to help as many people as possible.

Scrooge discovers that a life lived on purpose is the most powerful of all and one that brings the greatest joy.

I have discovered that it’s never too late to become the person you always wanted to be….


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Half time in the game

I spent an evening humorously pondering the approaching big five 0 (actually I'm 52 but what the heck!!) with a few post teenagers and asking the big questions about life and the universe and what’s truly important. These were a few of the conclusions I came to that are on my priority list….Whilst 50 is probably past half time for most of us, I come to the following truths in living this life from the heart….

Cinderella’s mother was correct. Have courage and always be kind was her motto. It doesn’t matter where you are, whom you find yourself with at the time or whatever you may face if we can adhere to these two beautiful commitments all will be well.

No time for regrets. In doing good and living a life that contributes to others, I believe it is important not to carry regret about who you might have been or what you might have done. Instead I choose to focus on the possibilities and dreams of tomorrow and focus my energy into seeing as much of those dreams bear fruit and grow.

Give what you have….give your smile, your song, your kind word and share your apple pie even when it tastes really good and you don’t feel like it…it will always come back to you 

Try not to focus on what you don’t know. Set the eyes of your heart upon your mountains that you know you can climb and build up to the peaks that you never thought you could….eat your elephant slowly….it’s an elephant remember

These things may seem small however it seems that the big things that were once looming and important have shrunk back into a better sense of perspective. It’s funny how your world becomes smaller from when you were young and the things you thought you needed aren’t needs at all….

In place of them have become these beautiful simplicities of friends, family and the ones you love. The people and things that bring warmth and joy to your places in the heart….for the next half of the game I want to be surrounded in these things…..

In my sense of half time I regard these things deeply. Have courage and be kind.

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If only life could be a little more tender

There is a sad and striking truth that we of a certain age are entering into a season of goodbyes. It may come upon us as a gentle wave or a tsunami of tragedy. The recent passing of some of the more influential artist of our time is affecting many hearts and minds as we ponder our own frailty and humanity.

Heroes we have worshipped, artists who have shaped our lives and thinking and of course those villains and rogues that we also hold a degree of private admiration for will quietly leave us when we least expect.

What is the heart response from this? For all of us it will be different I am sure....

 I can only offer my morsel of thought. That it is our collective memories and warmth that we feel in our hearts as community journeying on without them provides us some sense of normality. It is the valuable life lesson of taking time to reflect that creates meaning and substance in all of this. Time to reflect on our own wins, our successes and our losses. The things we have handed down that will contribute to the betterment of others in the same way that these greats of yesterday have done. Perhaps these mysteries and questions unanswered are best summed up in the words of the poet….

The question O me!, so sad, recurring -What good amid these, O me, o life?

Answer - That you are here, that life exists and identity. That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse

There will be songs we will not hear played live again. Canvas that will never feel the gentle caress of paint as the clock ticks slowly. Celluloid will keep what we hold and love as the last picture screens.

 Everything we get to keep will be in our hearts and memories. My encouragement to us all in writing at this moment is that we all take time to gather and reflect on our lives and recognise the contribution that we all make that is of value. After all that's life.....that's all it is....and it's a great gift...

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Planning an Escape Route

I have always loved movies since I was little.

One of my first films I ever saw was HR PufNStuf with my grandparents and I was hooked from there….

Over time all these celluloid memories blend into one….Rocky bounding up the Philadelphia steps, Luke blowing up the death star, Ryan Gosling kissing Rachel McAdams, Forrest and the feather, Tim Robbins and his amazing escape from Shawshank and my list could go on for pages….

Movie moments are great for me because I escape. I escape from everything else and I go into another place of dreams, hope and somewhere where my imagination can expand into things I hadn’t considered before.

In living Life From The heart I think we all need a little escape every now and then. An escape to see friends, to share a kiss, to enjoy a meal, to reflect, to hold somebody and so many more beautiful places in the heart.

What’s your escape? I hope you go somewhere truly rewarding and full of joy…..

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