The forecast on Friday had been torrential rain and there was some questions amongst the ranks if it was a good idea to brave the slippery bushwalking track between MacCleans Lookout and Heatons Lookout. In the end we decided that it would be a great chance to really test out the wet weather gear before most likely having to use in in New Zealand next year.
The track from McCleans Lookout to Heatons Lookout takes you through rainforest and leafy lined creeks with moss covered fallen trees, onto dry ridges, caves and magnificent views over Quorrobolong towards Cessnock. This is a section of the Great North Walk which runs from Newcastle to Sydney (250kms). Overcast and not too hot, the weather was perfect for walking and we were out with our backpacks toning up those walking muscles and getting ready to tackle the tracks in New Zealand.
The thing about creeks, leaf litter and moss is that it is the perfect haven for the delightful little creature called the leech. The leech has a tenacity for never giving up and seem to be able to find their way through the most difficult of barriers that a person might put in the way. Pants tucked in to socks, gaiters, nothing perturbs them and they inevitably find their way into the socks and between the toes, hitching a ride from one end of the track to another. Come to think of it they have all the positive traits that a person doing long distance multi-day hiking might need ..... consistent, persistent and resistant to people trying to tell them that they shouldn't be on this ride!!
The other thing about creeks and this walk is that we crossed several of them which meant we climbed steeply out of them and descended steeply back into them. The perfect training walk for long distance back packing. doing the Kepler and Routeburn tracks in the Fiordland South Isand of New Zealand.
We set off early and after a car shuffle we started out at 8.30am full of energy and glad to be out in the bush for the day. We had a lovely morning tea overlooking the Quorrobolong valley and made great time for lunch at Heatons Lookout with a well earned cuppa. Everyone had a chance to gauge where they were up to in the fitness readiness stakes, make any adjustments to equipment and break in the new hiking boots. There were great conversations as we all got to know each other and lots of support all round.
A great day out was had by all. Oh and thankfully there are no leeches in New Zealand !
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I woke this morning to the gentle patter patter of rain falling on our tile roof. I love that sound. It felt so gentle and nurturing and I lay their imaging how the soil was drinking and soaking it in after such a dry spell, how the plants were enjoying the moisture so that they could grow and other day, and I heard the birds frolicking joyfully in the trees.
It was like Mother Nature was shedding tears of joy for the world and bringing life, thousands of single tears that accumulate in ponds which flow into rivers, then lakes, then oceans.
So life supporting.
Sometimes, like this morning, the rain is gentle and nurturing. Other times it seems thunderous and angry in great swirling storms creating powerful torrents of water that sweep across the countryside. Then the storm recedes as quickly as it came.
Other times the rain just falls, for days, consistently and unrelentingly like the earth herself is heaving a great release and doesn’t stop until she is done. That release fills parched streams, dams and rivers - filling the cup of life.
In all of these moments of teardrops of rain Mother Nature is just doing what she needs to do when she needs to do it. Restoring the equilibrium and balancing the big picture.
It occurred to me that human tears are the same.
We shed tears of joy, love and happiness. We shed tears in short angry storms, in releasing grief and anxiety, in empathy for others. Our tears flow deeply from the rivers of our souls in joy, sadness and anger …. All expressions of what we need and are feeling at the time to bring equilibrium back into our lives.
And just like Mother Nature …. afterwards, when the tears have stopped, everything is greener, fresher, fuller and more vibrant.
The trouble is that Western society has taught us to hold back our tears and emotions. We have been trained to think that to shed a tear is a sign of “weakness”, that to show how we are feeling is in appropriate and unacceptable and something to be ashamed of.
Simon Sinek claims there are four factors contributing to a disturbing trend in statistics where the millennial generation is experiencing plummeting self-esteem, increases in addictive behaviour, depression, suicide and death due to drug overdoses. The first being failed parenting strategies which was discussed in Millennial Paradox - Part I - Helping Hand or Holding Back?
According to Simon Sinek the second reason for why you might be challenged when working with someone from the millennial generation is “technology”.
For starters I am prefacing this blog with the fact that I am Gen X and in terms of being social media savvy I am lagging behind in practice and also desire to fully embrace (and keep up with) social media in all its forms. Therefore I probably have some unconscious negative bias towards the ability to build relationships with people over social media.
Before I lose everyone under 33 right here ….. I challenge you to keep reading.
Have you ever felt like you were sinking? You are so busy with work, running around after the children, worrying about paying the bills, maintaining the family home, volunteering on the P&C that you feel like you are treading water with your head just breaking the surface. Everything seems out of balance and your centre of gravity is off.
Building a ship is like building a great life. If you don’t get the centre of gravity right you will sink like a ship
Getting the centre of gravity right in shipbuilding is paramount to launching a ship that floats. Many a naval architect has got it wrong only to find the ship moving down the slipway into the water and quickly either lists heavily to one side, or worst still sinks to the bottom before it even goes on its maiden voyage.
Shipbuilding provides a great analogy for life.
To build a ship you need a design and design checks, a plan, materials, resources and time to put it all together. Likewise to ensure a life that floats you need the same things. Most people don’t have one or more these elements and much of the time life is pretty hit and miss with people finding themselves in deep water on a leaky boat and in crisis mode where emergency help is required.
There are 5 basic stages to building a ship and your life:
Stage 1 – Design with the Life of Type in mind
In ship design, “Life of Type” means the expected lifespan of the vessel that is being designed and built. The Huon Class Minehunter vessels, for example, built in the late 1990’s in Newcastle were designed with an expected lifespan of 20 years.
Sometimes in life it feels like being in the trenches. You are standing in mud, feel like you are pinned down and stuck, backed into a corner, or have limited tools and resources to be able to get the kind of life you are seeking.
Your aspirations of buying a home, pursuing your hobbies, getting the promotion you want, or going on holidays seem so out of reach that you feel like flying the white flag and surrendering to your current lot in life and accepting mediocrity. Feeling this way can literally bog you down. You lose motivation, you start focusing on everything that is not working, even your posture changes as the weight of the world bears down on your shoulders. You start to think this must be as good as it gets.
Not so! It doesn’t have to be that way.
Firstly, you are never completely alone although it may seem like it at times. You just might not know where to look or what questions to ask. You are not the first person to ever think that you are the only one going through this. Here are four steps to getting out of the trenches and back into the flow of life:
Keep going and recognise that being in the trenches is a passing stage
Winston Churchill once said “If you are going through hell, keep going”, and they did and eventually the time in the trenches passed and the allies won the war.
There is one thing for certain. Time passes, seasons come and go and now might just be the time when you need to hunker down, batten down the hatches and ride it out. It is during these times that getting back to the fundamentals of life are important and getting back to looking after the simple things that make your life function on a day to day basis. Things like managing your time well, building long lasting relationships, watching your finances.
Recently I watched an interview with Simon Sinek explaining the millennial paradox and why you might be challenged when working with someone born after 1984. He claimed that there were four factors contributing to a disturbing trend in statistics where this generation is experiencing plummeting self-esteem, increases in addictive behaviour, depression, suicide and death due to drug overdoses:
Now I know plenty of well balanced, happy and responsible young people under 33 so I recognise that being categorised as a millennial in this context may seem like a gross injustice to you. In the same way that as a Gen X (that’s me) being tarred with the same general brush that my generation is typically being perceived to be disaffected and directionless ….. hmmm
But here’s the thing, you are likely to become parents too in the next few years so will your children befall the same increase in statistics as they say your generation is prone to?
The facts are that the statistics are rising which means there a greater proportion of young people experiencing depression and addictive behaviours than there was before (and probably across a broader generational range than we are talking about here).
Have you ever sat with a friend and they keep going over the same old negative stuff and don’t seem to be able to get past it?
Have you tried talking about a past issue, made some progress and feel like you have hit a wall in working it all out?
Can you openly talk about “it” without getting emotional but you think about “it” every waking moment with no respite when you are asleep?
Is everyone telling you to “get over it” and “it’s time you moved on” but it’s still stuck in your story and you feel like there must be something wrong with you?
Talking about past hurts and trauma is great and can help a lot of people and sometimes though it is not enough. Sometimes talking about it doesn’t bring the relief you thought it would or it only takes you so far.
That’s because your body still remembers what if felt like at the time.
Every experience we have from pure joy to absolute trauma invokes an emotional response which gets stored in your body at the cellular level. For example, when we experience the exhilaration of climbing to the top of a mountain or the warmth of a loved ones hug our body remembers elation, laughter, joy, love. Physically we stand tall, are relaxed, and feel pretty good with a warm glow spreading in our bodies when we recall the moment.
“You have got to be in it to win it” are the words mumbled the morning after the $50 million lottery is drawn and people in the game check their tickets over breakfast.
By the time breakfast is over and the email alert hasn’t pinged or the phone is silent there is resignation in the voice because “some other lucky so and so won it …. oh well maybe next time”.
The thing with playing lottery is that you can choose whether you want to spend your hard earned moolah on being “in it” or to spend it on something else. And yes you DO have to be in it to win it. Never a raffle prize was won without obtaining a ticket first.
What about the game of life?
Each morning you get up you have purchased another ticket in life. Some people hold a shiny golden ticket full of possibilities, opportunity and prizes, like the one the child in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory had. Whilst others hold a dull and lack lustre ticket like the one you take at the delicatessen as you wait in line, waiting as others push in anyway.
The difference between the lottery and having the golden ticket in life is the amount of winning tickets available and the expiry date.
The lottery, footy raffle, and a TAB ticket all have one thing in common. That is the availability of winning tickets. There is only one set of winning numbers, one winning raffle ticket and only one greyhound will make it to the finish line first.
In the game of life anybody can have a winning ticket …. There is no limit and there is no expiry date.
Why is it that some people always seem to be the lucky ones, get all the breaks and seem to be holding the golden ticket?
There is nothing lucky about holding a golden ticket. ....
The days of reading maps and plotting courses with sextants and compasses have largely faded into the past. In the 21st century, technology has made finding our desired destination as easy as the click of a button. If you are in an unfamiliar city you can use a navigational aid to successfully arrive at your meeting or appointment. By searching for “nearest restaurants”, your smart phone will find one for you then proceed to tell you how to get there, and how long it will take depending on your mode of transport. It even does a risk assessment of sorts and produces a number of routes with information about tolls, roadworks or other obstacles along the way. Very little thought from you is required and no resources except you and your device.
A little less automatic and requiring a bunch of collective thought and resources depending on the complexity is a work or business project. Generally a Project Manager is engaged to undertake a project at work or in business using some level of project management plan, or roadmap. There is a project destination in mind (outcome or deliverable), a plan is developed from a whole bunch of inputs, a set of actions are produced , along the way progress is monitored via a set of milestones (smaller goals) and at the end there are a set of measures which determine whether you got to your destination. The course taken on the roadmap has considered resources required (time, people, cash, and infrastructure), the potential risks or roadblocks and strategies to mitigate them, and how the Project Manager will know that the project has met expectations and the project destination has been achieved. When things come up that throw the plan off track, the team can go back to the roadmap and make the appropriate decisions and tweaks required to get back on track.
Earle Nightingale, author of The Strangest Secret audio series said: “All you need is the plan, the roadmap, and the courage to press on to your destination”.
So what about your life?
So far there is no technological device in which we can access a satellite to determine where we are now with respect to our life journey. You can’t just type in the destination (the life you want to live) and then .. cool … up pops a road map.
Transforming Boardrooms – Dare to be different!
Recently I was facilitating a workshop and noticed that by the time everyone had “run” in from whatever they were doing for the day (including me), everyone’s personal energy was way up there in the head space and beyond. I could see that they were jumpy, all over the place and were physically holding their breath as they plonked themselves down in their chair.
The look on their faces indicated that they were still thinking about how they got there, what had just happened at work/school/play, and they were already thinking about what they were going to do after.
No one seemed present, in the room.
How could they be focussed on or open to learning, listening or participating in the workshop if they were not really in the room?
As the one who was delivering the workshop I needed to “get people in the room” not just physically, also mentally and emotionally.
I asked everyone to sit comfortably and have a minute’s silence, to focus on their breathing and let go of what was happening outside and bring their attention to the reason for the workshop. I asked them to open themselves to hearing something new and to open themselves to new possibilities.
This had the effect of centring people, providing focus and attentiveness to what we were there to talk about and we ended up having a brilliant workshop where everyone actively participated. What a pearler!!
Does any of this sound familiar? Have you ever held a meeting and felt like no one was really engaging?
What has this got to do with business or any other group of people convening to make decisions, discuss or learn?
How many times have you organised a meeting at any level of your business (Board, Executive, Senior Management, Project level or even your daily team meetings) and the so called participants were not really there?
I know from experience how frustrating a meeting of the minds can be when everyone has different agendas and they are so "busy" they find it difficult to concentrate on the intent of the meeting.
Consider being a transformative leader, try something different and put at the top and bottom of your Agenda:
Agenda Item 1 - Contemplate, Centre and Focus (1 minute in silence)
Here’s how it would go …
Agenda Item Final - Gratitude and Close (1 minute)
Really! I hear you say.
That’s a bit airy fairy! That won’t work, I am not doing that!
Well consider this:
This morning I read the following from Reverend Deborah Moldow, advisor to the United Nations. She writes:
"In my experience of countless meetings -whether with the NGO community at the United Nations, among visionary evolutionary leaders, or in the tiny meeting room at my local church – I have noticed that a very few simple procedures help to dramatically shift the quality of the experience (meeting), and hence the result.
The real key is in the opening, which sets the tone for all that follows. At the United Nations we always begin with a moment of silence. This invitation alone signals to everyone that the meeting will not be business as usual, a contest of wills and opinions. In the silence the heart prevails. Unless it’s a very large group, it’s good to go around the table letting everyone introduce herself and himself or say a few words of greeting so that each voice is heard, if only briefly. Then we are all truly present. In this style of meeting, no single contribution is dismissed. Each person is honoured and gently brought back around if necessary. Voting is only to find out how people are feeling, not decision making, because if someone is not comfortable with a decision, there is something amiss. I remember one painful meeting where the group simply could not agree. So we stopped and went into silence again. We emerged clear, aligned, and on track, as though a little miracle had taken place.
Closing time is for acknowledgements in gratitude. If the exhilarating sense of group mind has been created, every person present at the meeting has helped in some way. I like to close with “May Peace Prevail on Earth”" (1)
If it’s good enough to take this approach at a meeting of the United Nations then it’s good enough for me.
Besides Einstein said that the definition of Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
TRANSFORM your Board Room or meeting room!! Be a TRANSFORMATIVE leader and take 1 minute at each end of your meeting to Contemplate, Centre and Focus.
Dare to be different! I challenge you!
Learn more about how I could help your business.
(1) Schaaf, K., Lindahl, K. H., & Cheen, G. (Eds.). (2012). Women, Spirituality and Transformative Leadership - Where Grace Meets Power. Woodstock: Skylight Paths.
My passions are nature, people, and building cultures of cooperation, harmony, sharing and reverence for life. I enjoy working with people to help them understand themselves and others so they can reach their full potential in life.