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"Today and tomorrow, the successful leader is the one who leads the process of learning."
Sir Douglas Hague

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Good morning from a cool and damp Vancouver. I hope that your week is filled with inspiration and possibility.

I spoke in Winnipeg on Saturday about Post Modern Governance, that is what does the work of boards look like in a post modern, and emerging world? And in that speech, referenced a conversation earlier in the week with sometime colleague Kim Andres. Kim taught me of a new way of describing something that makes the emerging, post modern world so difficult for so many leaders over 35 years of age.

If you were born after 1985, you are a 'citizen' in a technological world. If you were born prior to 1985, you are an 'immigrant' to a technological world. For us immigrants, we have had to learn a second language, adopt new patterns of behaviour, and learn new means of communication. The citizens of this new world were born 'plugged in' and so move easily and fluidly in it.

Now, of course the date 1985 is arbitrary, and there are exceptions, young people who don't live in a technological world, and mature people who are fluently bilingual. For the most part however, we immigrants have a number of hills to climb.

Two of the implications for leadership are; that as immigrants, we need to be constantly and consciously learning, and as immigrants, we'll need the support of the citizens to help us learn. One way of doing that is to build a reciprocal mentor relationship. Find a person with whom you can learn in partnership, passing on your wisdom about life, and life changing decisions, and learning from them about the language and customs of this new, technological and post modern world.

By working and learning together, we might just be able to make this world that much healthier and just for everyone.

May we all learn something this week.

 

Good morning everyone, and I hope you're navigating through still waters this week, and thus able to enjoy the scenery as you go!

A friend told me over lunch of being in a line up to receive the H1N1 vaccine. I'm not sure how the vaccine is being allocated south of the border for American readers, but here in Canada, the first to receive are supposed to be those who are most at risk. My friend is among those as he has a chronic illness. He spoke of a couple of fit men in the line up, who apparently were not, pregnant, elderly, babies, chronically ill or a health care worker. In fact he overheard them say that the reason they were in the line up was that their organizations could not function properly of they were to miss work because of the flu.

As tempting as it is to delve into the ethical debate about queue jumping ahead of children, from a leadership perspective I'm fascinated that there are those who think that their organization, any organization would be in trouble without them!

First if that is the case, the risks to the organization are tremendous, and need to mitigated immediately. Second, and more likely the case, if you are sick, you will be missed, in many cases missed a lot, but in the end, if you have been a compelling, inspiring, learning focused leader, your team and organization will continue to thrive in your absence. In fact if you have been a good leader, it has to continue to thrive, because you'll have made sure that people are empowered, challenged and engaged with the work, not because you told them to be, but because an environment was created and cared for where they were more likely to thrive.

I hope you remain well this flu season, and if you do get sick, stay home, for the sake of your team's health and to let them thrive without you. And please, let those most at risk get the vaccine first.

Good afternoon and I hope that all is well in your world. Today is a blustery and rainy fall day, and the leaves are flying by the window as I write.

Over the next couple of days we'll take pause to remember the war dead from last century and this one.

At the cathedral I work out of here in Vancouver is a stain glass window in honour of Herbert Owen who died in 1916. Both he and his father, Cecil, the then Rector of the church had volunteered in 1914 and had gone to France. On learning that his son had been killed in action, Cecil rode three hours through the mud to officiate at his son's burial. Returning to Vancouver Cecil resigned his post as Rector and became chaplain at the veteran's hospital, a post he held to the end of the Second World War. He and is wife adopted a son, a survivor of the Armenian Genocide in Turkey, Luder Keshishan. Luder joined the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War, and was shot down and killed over France.

My friend David Kuhl upon hearing this story remarked, "imagine the courage it took to raise a second son and instill in  him the courage to go to war."

This week, I hope you find the time to remember the courage of the men and women who gave their lives so that we can make the world a safer place for everybody. May each of us find the courage to stand up for what we believe in, and the courage to help build peaceful lives for all people, everywhere.

 

Good morning everyone! I hope this finds you being who you are called to be.

In a recent conversation about working with other people, and inclusive language, I was reminded of the work of the brilliant Jewish thinker and writer from last century, Martin Buber.

When it comes to teamwork for example, we need to find ways to balance the we, the you and the I. As much as we are all one (in the words of Desmond Tutu, "black, white, brown, yellow, red, gay and so-called straight"), we are all individual manifestations of life. We are as much I as we are we. And there are times when to be clear I need to distinguish me from you, perhaps to honour you.

On that train of thought, Martin Buber's amazing book "I and Thou" tries to make this point.  Thou is a word that distinguishes and honours the individual. You, the far more common word now, is informal, and in Buber's concern, may in fact lean closer to "it" quite often. I, too often the supreme word in our time, am the subject, and you are the object; a dangerous and often deadly way of thinking. If we were to recognize each other as "thou" we might alleviate the exclusivity of 'I", and move closer to creating and recreating a world where the we, thou and I are all honoured and respected.

Given that, I hope that thou is being the thou thou is called to be.

 

Good morning and I hope this note finds you healthy in body, mind and spirit. All of us are called as leaders to be our best, and I was honoured to serve at a large function last night where 51 people were honoured for their contributions to our diocese. Their contributions have touched the lives of thousands of people. Simple acts of courage were common.

I also had the pleasure of hearing Nick Nissley from the Banff Centre for Leadership speak late last week at a conference, and Nick introduced me to the term 'homo narrens.' Our species could be more accurately described as homo narrens, the beings that tell stories. The concept has stayed with me all weekend.

And to return to last night's event, the homily was delivered by Ralph Spence, Bishop of Niagara. Ralph told a story of how Boris Yeltsin talked about working through the dismantling of the Soviet Union how he had been inspired by Lech Walensa of Poland. Walensa, asked who inspired him, spoke of Martin Luther King, and in King's biography, he spoke about Rosa Parks, and a simple act of courage, refusing to give up her seat to a white man.

In that way, Ralph pointed out, the fall of the Berlin Wall could be traced to a black cleaning woman living in the deep South of the United States.

As we work in our respective roles this week, I urge you to find place in your day for courage and for story. Both are part of us at our best.

 

Good morning from Vancouver Airport. I trust that this week is filled with self discovery.

I'm excited more than usual for this trip. I am headed to Brandon, Manitoba. Not on the Conde Naste top 10, to be sure, but a fun place for me to return to. I was stationed at the Canadian Forces Base, Shilo, just outside of Brandon in 1977. I was just 17, and looking back on my adventures at the time, brings a grin. I look forward to seeing Brandon, for the first time in 32 years in a few hours.

The 17 year old is now 50. The 17 year old would not in his wildest dreams be able to imagine the last 32 years. The 50 year old would not have missed a moment of the last 32 years, good and bad. And as I reflect on that fact, I realize how fortunate I am to have a life that allows for such reflection and self discovery.

As leaders, self discovery may be our most important work. Psychologist James Hollis calls it "inner work" and time and purpose to do inner work is vital. My hope is that this week you find .5 an hour to recall the 17 year old within and to reflect on the subsequent years; what have you learned, what wisdom have you gained, what difference can you make now in the world?