An uncomfortable truth

Occasionally we are forced to confront uncomfortable truths

Some unfortunately we are inured to, others are such a jolt to ‘our worldview’ that we can’t readily escape the emotional prison they lead us to.

What’s powerful about the second type of event is that these can also lead to personal and societal change and growth, like physical pain, emotional pain also has a purpose.

1 (2018_03_12 06_14_57 UTC)

It’s how we identify with and respond to this pain which is important.

My current pain is Donald Trump.

Only twice before have I felt this hurt and this mystified by an event where I have lost hours and hours searching for the why? (The other events were as primary witness to a serious crime, and a teen suicide).

Surprisingly there is a common thread between these three events.

It’s not the person!

Not: Trump/Criminal/Suicide.

It’s the communities around them.

Trump, amongst other things, is an outcome of the support of two of the many types of communities that have always existed in the United States (and elsewhere);

  • One driven by fear, not wishing to change, ignorant and unwilling to think independently or beyond the borders of their town, state or country.
  • The other driven by a lust for power, control, personal wealth and – in common with the other group – retention of the status quo (their power).

Communities that are so invested in their prior narrative that they cannot correctly discern when things have gone too far

Trump is just the Messenger.

It’s an uncomfortable truth.

As the various merits of John McCain demonstrate, it’s not truly a political divide but one conveniently dressed that way to Trump’s advantage. Playing voters who vote for one side of the canyon or the other – with no consideration of a bridge between.

Trump has played this in plain sight. And those absorbed in their own self-interest and without question as to the purpose of their loyalties, have followed.

Consider this:

You go to a party that is populated heavily with:

  • White collar criminals
  • Dishonest lawyers, financiers, publicists
  • Dubious celebrities
  • People you know who regularly lie, cheat, embellish
  • People known for always promoting themselves above others

What do you conclude about the host?

What do you do?

…and you elect him as President!!

You can’t change him, but we can all face the uncomfortable truth that as a society, as connected communities, we need to find better answers so we don’t end up here again.

At present far too much energy is going into looking at the person and not the issues that brought this person to the top of the pile in the first place. There lies the true source of my/our pain.

 

Note: I’m no expert on American Politics, but having lived 5 of the last 6 years in America, I feel I can at least share my observations.

Make my day!!

Having a bit more time on my hands these days I have the pleasure of helping one day a week with my daughter’s school crossing.

This week I asked my youngest daughter Edie and her friend to say good morning to everyone who crossed.

Though both were anxious at first, eventually they got into the swing of it.

Why?

Simply because being outwardly friendly to someone, even those they completely did not know, got an outwardly friendly response and more – smiles, changes in demeanor, changes in body language; ‘the works’ really. No negativity whatsoever.

kia oraReally it’s not hard.

 

Say hello the first time.

Try and get their name in as well the next time.

And then move on up to asking how they are doing or wishing them a pleasant day.

At no cost, you feel better too.

Observe carefully and you’ll notice most awkward moments are created by what we don’t say rather than what we do – it’s just that we take more note of the few awkward moments we create when we say the wrong thing.

Little things that can have a big impact.

What’s your ‘school crossing’?

Who can you share this simple gift with?

If not this, then how will you Make ‘my’ day?

 

 

 

 

Te Reo and my search for identity

I guess if you don’t know what you’re missing it’s hard to look for it. I never realized I’d been searching for my identity. I suspect it’s what many of us spend much of our lives doing without being fully aware. Deep down a few things always felt somewhat short-changed in my life and having a clear sense of identity is now obvious to me as being one of those things.

img_5074
Waka prow – Waitangi Treaty Grounds

I probably should have cottoned on to this when at the age of 14 having had my first trip away (to Auckland) I proudly returned home with a T-shirt which loudly declared “Pommy Bastards”. My English mother (coming to New Zealand when she was 17) was duly unimpressed.

Suffice to say I didn’t know who I was, though I clearly didn’t want to be English!

More correctly I have always wanted to be simply a “New Zealander”.

Defining what qualified me as a New Zealander has always been difficult for me, despite my great Grandfather arriving in 1870. I could see a clear ‘right’ for those of Māori descent, but for everyone else, I have always felt the waters to be somewhat murky, and at times definitely muddied.

Fast forward some 40 odd years from the T-shirt and returning to New Zealand I find that in public engagements and education forums Te Reo has been fully embraced and incorporated as a way of life; it’s the way we do thing around here. Though embracing this is not universal, for me it was like a light being switched on.

What began perhaps 11 years ago when working at Te Papa and then a year later in running a Directors (Governance) course for the Te Arawa Lakes trust, and loving every minute of both those experiences, I was now able to see a path to my New Zealand identity – Te Reo.

Not simply Te Reo as a language, but to understand the culture and to embrace the more spiritual connections Māori have with the land, water, flora and fauna. I now had a vehicle to strengthen my connections with the past and to reach out in a way I had never previously explored.

I’ll update the journey as I progress but meantime ponder these questions:

Is it critical to a mixed society’s social and emotional success and security that the majority of the population understand the history and customs of that lands ‘first peoples’?

How critical is it for our own identity for us to connect with or retain the language and customs of our resident country as it was initially settled, while not foregoing that we are likely to also wish to connect with and explore that of our forebears?

My short answers are: Yes. Absolutely.

Personal Growth

Here’s a challenge, shall I write a page or a whole website?

Personal growth is a lifelong quest. At times it’s hard, truly, truly hard, and at other times it’s a euphoric experience beyond measure.

Lessons in life


When coaching I always find it fascinating to observe the challenges that personal growth throws up for the individual.

Sometimes I even feel a little sorry for my clients as I know they are both going to experience some form of enlightenment at one level and a wholly new world of frustration at the other.

When you are ‘growing ‘ you suddenly wonder why others are not!

I put it to a client the other day that if he could now look back at himself 2, 3 or 10 years ago he would probably wonder “ Why isn’t he using his potential, why isn’t he open to change and growth?”

Once we are on the journey of true personal growth it seems such an obvious place to be and as if we always have been there.

As an adult once we begin the journey of personal growth we seldom stop.

In turn this raises in me the question of how it is, or when is it, that as children and young adults we decide to stop?

Does adolescence and university fool us into believing we have reached our pinnacle of personal learning and all that remains is the corporate ladder?

If so they both have a lot to answer for.

Or is it more simply that we hit life’s first real obstacles as a young adult, fail to deal with them, and get off the bus?

And finally is one of the clues to great leadership those who ‘help’ others back on the bus?

I will add to this on future posts, in the meantime I’d love to share with your thoughts.

What success looks like

Hilarious!

Just now for the briefest of moments I felt like Malcolm Gladwell or Stephen Levitt. I unwittingly conducted a social experiment which told me way more than I expected.

The experience was such a success I’ve parked the blog I had lined up and gone for a playful theme.

I’ve actually found what success looks like and at the same time discovered that it looks nothing like happiness.

How did I do this?

Well, learning from the better blogs around, including the crafty blogs my wonderful wife follows (like Sew Liberated, Tiny Happy) I realised I needed to put a bit more life into my blog with images and colour, try to show that I have both imagination and style, and perhaps even a little bit of soul.

I went looking for free images on the web and found this site which appealed due to its curious name MorgueFILE.

So what did I search for?

I started with “growth”, “flying”, “learning”.

Mostly these were hohum results but I started to get an idea so I did two consecutive searches:

* Happy

* Success

And the result:

Happiness
Happy
Happy

showed page after page of children, flowers, trees, fountains, more flowers, love hearts.

Success
Success
Success

had page after page of bank notes, American dimes and silver dollars.

I’m still laughing out loud.

Is society really that strongly conditioned?

Surely happiness is success?

And maybe that is the clue right there.

Happiness is success, but success, as society traditionally measures it, is not happiness.

Indeed it is the tension between happiness and the traditional notion of success which tears at us much of the time.

For they are intertwined. Probably the original and enduring chicken and egg dilemma.

How do you work with this tension?

What does each mean to you?

I’d like to know…

Richard