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"It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent; it is the species that is most responsive to change."
Sir Charles Darwin

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Good morning from Vancouver!
We’ve been exploring the following leadership attributes from my reflections in Australia this summer;
Presence
Present Moment = Wonderful Moment
Slowing Down
Attention and Listening
Honouring Self, Others and the Place
Gratitude
Compassion
Solitude
Over the next weeks, I’ll expand a little more on each of them.
For this week, we’ll look at “slowing down.” My experience in the world of work is that being busy is a badge of honour. Imagine your own thoughts if, after you asked a colleague how s/he was, they replied, “I’ve had the most fascinating morning, watching this spider build her web.”
Slowing down is about being focused. It is about being clear and here. Some of the most fun moments for me in Australia were in Melbourne. It is a city filled with cafes, in fact it makes Vancouver look like a caffine desert. Early on my first afternoon, feeling hungry I walked into a Starbucks and stopped. “What am I doing here”, I asked myself, “I can do this at home!” I turned around and there was a café called ‘Mister Close.’ http://misterclose.com.au/
Here, for me was an example of the power of ‘slowing down,’ (as ironic as it may be to talk about caffine and slowing down in the same paragraph!)  Slowing down is about being aware enough to change the default settings in our lives. If I am ‘busy’ all the time, I’m going to fall into patterns that are simple, efficient and pleasant, like going into a Starbucks day after day. By slowing down, I might just find another place, a new opportunity that is exciting, different and fun.
Now that I’m home, I sometimes catch myself walking too quickly, and gently slow my pace down to look at what’s around me. I’m finding new perspectives, new vistas in a city I thought I knew like the back of my hand. And that of course has got me wondering about the ‘slowing down’ that leaders need to do. What are we missing in our teams and organizations as we walk quickly between meetings, not wanting to be late. What about setting your schedule so that you build in 5 minutes more between meetings, and use the time to do some leadership by strolling around (LBSA)? (Those of you who have some grey hair will remember Tom Peters’ line from the 1980’s “Management By Wandering Around (MBWA), that actually became “Management By Walking Around”. I thing Peters was right with the word ‘wandering’, and it is that sense that I’m trying to capture in ‘strolling’) Take some time each day to wander, to stroll around your area, and see what new perspectives, new vistas, new webs of interconnectivity  you might find. 
May we each find time to slow down a little this week.
As I mentioned last week, my journal notes from Australia are brimming with the following attributes;
Presence
Present Moment = Wonderful Moment
Slowing Down
Attention and Listening
Honouring Self, Others and the Place
Gratitude
Compassion
Solitude
I believe these to be attributes of leadership. And over the next few weeks, I’ll expand a little more on each of them.
For this week, we’ll look at Present Moment = Wonderful Moment. On the trip, my exploration of Present Moment – Wonderful Moment was almost constant. Now of course it is far easier to be present in a wonderful moment when you’re looking out over the Australian outback from atop a mountain than driving down a freeway late for a meeting, or engaged in confict with a colleague.
What I found then, and am finding still is that one of the keys to engaging with these precious, wonderful moments, is to be gentle with yourself. For example, I found myself getting a little stressed as I drove into Melbourne, and had to cut across the Central Business District (CBD) to return my rental car. I was driving on the right hand side, (as opposed to my usual left hand drive car here in Canada), in very busy downtown traffic, and in the CBD, and nowhere else in the city, right hand turns are actually made from the far left hand lane, when the light turns yellow, so that one does not block tram traffic. I could feel the tension rising in me, and a small voice said to me, “Present Moment, Wonderful Moment.”  Another, louder voice then rang out, “shut up!” (I smile as I recall the internal dialogue!) Obviously I made it safe and sound, and didn’t crash into a tram, and as I walked out of the rental car office, I thought, “now that was a grand adventure!” And then I thought to myself, I needed to be focused in that moment, as wonderfully tense as it was, and that was where I needed to be then. I wasn’t standing on top of a mountain, or snorkling on the Great Barrier Reef, I was in busy downtown traffic, the little bit of stress was in some ways a good thing.
As leaders we find ourselves in stressful situations, and some moments are less fun than others. Be present in all of them, and honour your own emotions and responses to the stimulants around us. In particularly stressful and difficult days, it is imperative that you take some time on your own to quiet your mind, and to simply breathe. It is imperative that you refresh your mind, look at a picture of a loved one, listen to some Baroque music, go for a walk, be present and gentle for yourself. And quite quickly in fact, you’ll find that the stresses and frustrations of the day start to take a more appropriate place in your life; they are important moments, but not the only moments.  A bad day might in fact be merely a bad moment in a series of other moments, some wonderfully good, and some wonderfully frustrating.
May this week be one filled with wonder-filled moments for each and every one of us.
G’Day! I am back from an amazing trip in Australia. Most of my time was spent in my own silence, drilling deep into myself and exploring the joy and sadness I encountered there, all the while surrounded by the Great Barrier Reef, or the Outback, or even a thriving city like Melbourne. My journal notes are filled to the brim with discoveries and re-discoveries, largely focused on the following attributes;
Presence
Present Moment = Wonderful Moment
Slowing Down
Attention and Listening
Honouring Self, Others and the Place
Gratitude
Compassion
Solitude
Upon reflection, I’ve written about all of these in the past, and yet have not been able to articulate them into one cohesive place. I believe these to be attributes of leadership. And over the next few weeks, I’ll expand a little more on each of them.
For this week, my discovery of Presence was very important. My usual way of operating is to be “planny planny” as my best friend puts it. While a healthy thing in many ways, the shadow side is that I am often thinking about what’s next, or what tomorrow will bring, and so am not psychologically and emotionally present in the here and now. I learned on a small island on the Great Barrier Reef about being Present, as I stood still for 90 minutes as the tide rose around me, waiting for the sharks and rays to go by on their way to their dusk feeding areas. If my mind wandered, I’d miss the silent shapes swimming by, so I needed to be so very present, in order to experience the thrill of proximity to these amazing animals.
A challenge for many of us as leaders is to be that Present with the people around us, focusing on what they are saying, doing and being around us, and not getting caught up in the possibilities of the future, or the baggage of the past.
May this week be one filled with Presence for each and every one of us.
My sister and brother, both very wise people, have introduced me to ‘hot yoga’. It’s not a place I would have gone to on my own, but a quiet evening early last week, with nothing to do and an inexpensive introductory price, I thought, ‘go for it!’ Now I am aware that ‘there are none more holy than the newly converted’, so I won’t waste your time with how wonderful I have found it to be, and how everyone in the world should be involved! Rather, one of the yoga teachers spoke briefly a few evenings ago about two kinds of mind.
The first kind is called the ‘monkey mind.’ Monkey mind, like monkeys, jumps around, pokes, prods, screeches, and generally wreaks havoc. It’s the mind in me that can take a simple comment and created a huge story of tragic proportions. It’s the mind in me that worries about what people think about me, and is concerned with how I can fit in, or better yet, impress, the current crowd. It’s the mind in me that keeps me awake 3 am wondering about something over which I have no control. I wonder if that mind sounds familiar to you?
The second kind is called ‘big sky mind.’ For me, this is like a prairie mind, a huge expansive mind with a blue sky. Thoughts are obviously still present, but they are more like clouds in the big sky, set into context. Sure there will be dark clouds, but there is blue sky or light clouds elsewhere in the big sky, or I see them as a passing storm. It is also this big sky mind that allows me to see connections and possibilities, and even solutions to the dark clouds, rather than getting hung up on how horrible the storm seems to be.
Upon further reflection, it seemed to me that leaders need big sky minds. Now, to be transparent here, I am far from having a big sky mind all the time, but I have been discovering I do have a choice. If I find monkey mind is up to it’s tricks, I can gently say no, and breathe deeply, and work back to big sky mind. It is amazing how simple and effective breathing can be and is in giving the foundation to change one’s mindset!
May this week be filled with big sky minds for each and every one of us.
And, I’m going on a ‘walkabout’ in Australia for three weeks, leaving the first of next week so this will be the last issue of Leadership Notes until the week of August 8. I hope each of you have a wonderful few weeks. 

Greetings from AC 206 enroute to Calgary. It has been a good and busy week, especially good to be home and busy, and not spending evenings sitting in hotel rooms. Alas, all good things come to an end!

I'm enroute to do some of my favorite work, leadership development. I'm always learning myself (and about myself) in these sorts of workshops. At some level, simply the focused gathering of managers and leaders exploring common and particular issues is an amazing opportunity in which to be a participant, let alone the facilitator. The opportunity to take time away from the hour by hour work we all do is invigorating, engaging and a prelude to creativity and possibility.

I'm reminded of a friend of mine from childhood, now an accomplished and famous visual artist. His process as painter is to have a number of works going at once. He starts his day with a cup of tea in hand, moving from painting to painting looking for the one that needs work today.

Now obviously paintings are not people, and it'd look mighty strange for one of us to walk through the office, tea in hand looking for the person that needs work today! But my friend's real contribution to the art of leadership is in showing us the power of discernment and time. He takes time to reflect, to consider each of the works, and even how they might fit into each other, or not. And such is the work that I'm enroute to do. To discern, to reflect, on the priority actions, the important work for this group of managers and leaders.

It will be a powerful two days for all concerned.

May we each find time each day to discern.

I have been devouring Parker Palmer books for the 10 days. The one I’m in the middle of right now is called “A Hidden Wholeness.” It is a wonderful book about the journey of humans, and especially leaders, to live and lead from within. Palmer is a writer and retreat leader who has inspired, challenged and provoked change in leaders across North America.
One of the lines in “A Hidden Wholeness” that stopped me in my tracks this week was;
 
          “I do not know who coined the phrase, “Everyday, in every way I am getting better and better,” but he or she must have had a great fantasy life. …my pattern has never been onward and upward. It has always been up and down and back around.”

This has been my experience of growth and development as well. I think we do ourselves (and therefore our teams) a disservice when we try and force ourselves into pigeon holes like, “I’m getting better and better!” Even as leaders, there are good days and bad days, good months and bad months. We do actually behave and produce in ways for which we are rightfully proud of ourselves. And we do actually behave and produce in ways for whch we are rightfully frustrated with ourselves or guilty. And that is ok.
Now, there is a catch. As leaders, we need to be circumspect about how and with whom we share those ‘down and back around’ times. The people on our teams can be confused, or misunderstand our comments and pain and frustration can result.
For example, my adolescent self was thrilled to see the movie, “Battle Los Angeles” on the airplane last night, and I watched it gleefully!  In one scene, a young Lieutenant has let his men down in a previous encounter with the challenges they face. He is sulking in self loathing away from his team, who are looking at him with fear and confusion on their faces. The older and wiser Staff Sergeant, has a quiet word with him. And after listening for a few moments to the Lieutenant’s guilt and self anger, “we all make mistakes Sir”, the sergeant says. “But these men need your orders. What are we going to do sir? It’s your call.” He gives his orders and a newly invigorated team moves out to face the challenges ahead. The team obviously know that the lieutenant has messed up, but they learn to trust him again because he is learning.
Now, my more adult self was intrigued by this small scene, as a fine example of honouring our ‘down and back around’ moments. The young lieutenant had a confidante, a mentor, and a guide in the sergeant. Someone who would listen to his concerns, respect them, hold them in confidence and then, challenge and inspire him to go out and lead. As leaders, we all need such a confidante. And, as I’m learning, we each have within us, a sergeant, that older, wiser self who can honour our own frustrations and guilt, and then ask, “and what’s the right thing to do next?” We all need quiet moments alone with our confidante, and/or with our wiser self, to help us honour our ‘down and back around’ periods, and then to help us move on.
Perhaps the aphorism then is not that “Every day in every way, I’m getting better and better.” More likely, it’s “Every day, in every way, I’m learning.” And I believe, with that level of honesty with ourselves, we can inspire and create environments where our teams are learning as well, and thus making a real difference in our teams and our organizations.