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The Great Escape

Keanu Reeves was my fantasy go-to back in the day…I oscillated between living on a houseboat or in a beach house, but one fact remained true.

I was a surf god, taking out Bell’s and Keanu and all in some naff black wetsuit – cos 90s fashion was seriously behind the eight ball.

The point is…I was the hero because I have post-traumatic stress disorder. The only person who can and will ever save me, is me.

Poor old Dad so destroyed after Vietnam War, advised – ‘kids, when gunmen break into house, crawl under your bed and pull the doona with you.’ Nevermind the rest of shit I saw and heard.

No biggie. One toughens up: becomes skilled in hand-to-hand combat and weapons, scan faces for threats, avoids dark alleys and looks for exit points in new environments.

Because men are always foe before friend. Until I determine your calibre, you won’t it…but you’re on notice.

So, when I meet an actual male hero, akin to my old man; my faith is restored. Because trust is my number one hurdle – good ole neural wiring. Something about working for and against…

Talking with new mate Sharpie this week was another mental teardown and refit – because it’s not my inherent distrust of men that proves the overriding issue. My life’s work is self-trust.

Why? I have a family of scientists – all three of them, through and through – so I’m an evidenced-based operator.

Give me qualitative and quantitative research, but only if undertaken with a sufficient sample size and a suitable line of questioning in neutral environment – baseless assertions confound my type.

And yet, ask me if I make decisions with my head or my gut…and it’s instinct; every, single, time.

In fact, it’s saved my life: once hitching a ride in Mexico when my motorbike broke down, and another time, as a povo student desperate for rent.

So the story goes…I was showing computer guy through place, and weirdly, simply could not turn my back on him the whole tour.

But it wasn’t until I’d slept with Kung Fu short staff next to bed for the next three nights, that I asked him to move out. Dude’s like, why – me: I don’t know; bye!

Because I do frontal cortex mechanics bloody well – but my instinct is superior. Right here, right now – how many times will you go-with-gut, over your head; or vice versa to avoid cognitive bias, your head over gut?

And here’s the kicker – no one’s talking about it. However, the evidence is in. How many times where you told growing up during exams – your first multiple choice response is usually correct?

If students are being taught to follow instinct, when did intuition stop applying as an employee?

The answer is; it didn’t. And people who use their gut instinct get better at identifying instant discord.

The problem is – if you don’t react ‘and respond’, then prepare for anxiety and mental stress.

I know when I don’t listen to me – I’ve conducted a personal bowline. A knot is the weakest part of any rope structure; you gotta untie that shit to move forward.

But self-trust isn’t just my issue – I know it yours too; because, the unassailable truth is…females are taught to worry that they are ‘too much’. And conversely, males are only ever concerned that they ‘aren’t enough’.

Women: don’t show too much emotion – it’s wrong. Men: how can I ever be enough to support my family?

The thing is: hopefully you’ve surrounded yourself with people who love you, no matter how you go about learning life lessons.

We should all be in space that is safe enough to self-level before refabrication: mentally, physically, emotionally, you name it…

And if you’re not; until you get there, you take the hits until you become your own hero. Because, the only person who can look after you, is you.

Leadership is not the sole domain of managers and CEOs – everyone must be their own leader.

If you cannot be the leader of your clan, or for example, self-empower in a job designed to disempower: then your back is always to the wall.

And one can research leadership till blue-in-face – but a single fact remains true ‘o’ subject. Leaders know when to break the rules.

Like the recent state versus federal government ringside event regards the polled two-third populist Australian move to renewable energy.

In one corner weighing in at 350 pounds: South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill eyeballed featherweight SmarmyMacSmarmson Josh Frydenberg at crashed press conference, interjecting at will.

It was like being a prisoner of war: and in rides Steve McQueen on his TT Special 650 Triumph, pulling an epic motorcycle jump to escape Nazi capture. And the crowd roars.

So, while it’s true, I’m always on the lookout for people who have the courage of conviction to bring about social justice, which is my ‘hero’ definition…I’m still the leader of my pack. Are you feeling me?

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My oldest friend and foe

It’s my humble opinion that regularly embracing one’s idiot-self is damn good for the soul. Cause no one is getting it perfectly right – that would be crazy talk.

Truly, everyone is perfectly-imperfect. This is the basis for acceptance of our social diversity. We are entitled to have different core values, principles and behaviours – if we seek to do no harm.

And since I started this exceptional growth phase, a few things regards this are patently clear. For one thing, sure it sux to get it wrong – but that’s exactly where the good stuff is at.

I have learnt more about myself and who I want to be, and therefore, who I want to know, than possibly imaginable in the past three months.

Although loathe to naval-gaze publicly, given propensity for self-reflective mouthvom – it’s okay on this occasion because my overriding hope is this…

If you’re feeling a dickhead too, I’ll just strap a trusty phallus briefly to forehead, before removing to move on – thus demonstrating the value in failure. Albeit indelicately and via self-amusement; obvs nothing new to see here, folks.

I firmly believe that we learn the most from the people we surround ourselves with. Modelling is my preferred education style.

Unfortunately for me, I don’t have any copy precedence regards this week’s der brain moment – but as mate Kristina kindly suggested to me recently, ‘embracing fear’ seems to be where I’m at.

My reasons for coming clean are important for those of us, ‘working’ to own our faults. Basically, I’m no fraud. Accountability and responsibility are always important to me.

Because, if I can’t own me and my actions – then I should just hang up my boots now; you can hardly expect the same from anyone else.

The things is…when you screw up and admit it – what you’re looking for, is how people respond, and your mental reckoning regards the reveal.

Because the skinny is this. As-long-as you’re a good person – it’s only ever what you think about yourself that matters. The rest pales.

My other point: I’m only interested in authentic these days, both in me and the next. I aspire to being as consistent a character as possible.

Nothing annoys me more, and loses my trust and respect quicker: these being the established relationship principles.

And funnily enough, I’ve noticed in becoming truest self – your tribe, even just peripheral, reveal their themselves too – directly and/or by omission. Who knew? But then I’m easily shocked: I’m a known ‘gasper’.

For me, it comes back to this. I’m nothing but a monkey who seeks reciprocity. You scratch my back – and scratch yours. Then I’ll raise you one, by helping you to pick your nits.

Because real kindness is gold – not from those appearing one way publicly, only to show self privately, and vice versa. But it’s what you do with the disclosure – that shows you, you. I do what I’ve always done: cull.

Picture yourself driving, and half the backseat is telling where to go – this happens a shitload more to women than men…right now, straight up.

Advising me of my duty and who I am, to what I should aspire – and what my values and behaviours must be – always gets someone mentally booted from my canary yellow with black racing stripe 428 Cobra Jet.

I have always, and will always, excise deadwood like it’s no one’s business – because it isn’t. That’s the job. Most do not get you to where you’re going.

People come in and out of our lives with regularity – relationships are: for a reason, a season and if lucky, a la my folks married 47 years…a lifetime. But it’s unusual to grow with people that way.

And here’s why: just when I think I know me, I’ve changed – not atrophied but expanded my knowledge of self, in direct relation to the experiences that I’m seeking.

So, that’s why, I’m humbly willing to announce nomination today for the 2017 Darwin Award – in a new category, whereby one only inflicts a small body wound…shooting self-in-foot.

Jumping gun, I have prematurely announced my employment with esteemed Predicate Partners; only being halfway through their quality recruitment process.

However, there was a silver-lining. With all the painful tribe refinement; my true peeps emerged – and I so was happy to see them. So, wish me luck with my peer review, and leadership meet-and-greet this week.

Even if it she’s a no-go and I have too dust self-off, again – thanks for revealing you, one way or another. I’ll keep doing the same; with heart-on-sleeve and my old mate Fear tucked in back pocket.

The enemy within

 

So…just got smacked in the third eye. It turns out, I’m a terrible hostage candidate; personal and professional – depending on your perspective, of course.

Right up front – many thanks to all my would-be oppressors who unwittingly provided an opportunity to practise, in my opinion; the single most practical communication skillset on the face of the Earth. That of the negotiator.

Had a totally Eureka moment, when I stumbled into sentient being Haydn Thomas’ Courageous Leadership Conversations workshop at the three-day Convergence Change Conference last week.

All I can think is, how did negotiation not make it as a communication degree unit…ethics is, and apparently, that’s gone out the window?

As a broadly practiced 21-year communication professional – just a thought: if you ever choose just one industry course, Haydn recommends the ENS International negotiator training. Given we only touched subject matter, I’m waiting for course details as we speak.

Unfortunately, the situation is this. Business actively works to cultivate hostages, all the while communicating opposing messaging of innovation, collaboration…pick a hot creative term and look up its antonym. That’s exactly where it’s at.

And I’m sorry to be the bearer of this pile of shit news. But the fact is: it will never behove the majority of established business to empower free-thinking that goes directly against hierarchy.

We are the medicated, homogenised mass who unbeknownst, play our parts to a T. And sometimes that’s OK, because let’s face it – everyone has responsibilities and when children are involved, then my hat goes off to the self-hostage. They are taking a massive hit for the team. I have felt and seen your trauma…you are my hero’s.

The problem is, you cannot be a hostage and not suffer the effects of ill health. And I have first-hand experience.

Until four months ago, it’s fair to say I was a dissident hostage with a diagnosed, medicated major depressive disorder.

So, what changed? I negated the situation to take a leadership role including that of negotiator…and as a result, I no longer take anti-depressants or suffer depression. Imagine my pure joy.

Another health strategy I employ, is effectively running away from a succubus. You know – the taker. They, in fact, are also holding you hostage.

Don’t get me wrong – we all take. That’s the game. But if you don’t give and take – in the words of Melbourne Cup winning jockey and all-round legend Michelle Payne…get stuffed.

They can also use tactics like eyeballing – I know this intimately and damn it’s fun for my type. The trick per Haydn, is no quarter – whoever break gaze first, loses. Game on, people.

But it was the status role play that had me stumped – I’m sure Haydn was watching me not getting it, simply because I’m a fighter; for me there are only two positions. Victim and non-victim. Wrong! There are four status positions: but it’s the Alpha at number one that left me feeling like a shower.

Imagine massive ego, overbearing, uses their body to intimidate – can be recognised by all-important ‘glide’.

So, second position will see someone clomping heavily and moving quickly, but if you want to pull rank in motion, slow that shit right down and draw yourself upwards to create personal power.

And I’m thinking, nuh, when is that working for someone who needs to connect – then it hit me.

I gave Dad a triple banger at Chrissie after a blue with folks. I got up and walked across living room towards Dad, headed for door; to which he said, don’t walk out.

It was a final call to arms so I deliberately slowed self, and eyeballed him with, ‘this isn’t walking – this is running’.

And that’s why Haydn’s course was so illuminating and achieved my conference objective: to access more compassion and help me negate my linguistic blunt force trauma.

I will always choose the carrot over the stick messaging or as Haydn says, pull or push influencing style – but I need the insight to access the love.

The fight with Mum appeared as fear about my start-up: but it’s an illusion. Mum’s actual fear is abandonment by me.

There’s a story about her packing a little bag aged 6 or 7 and running away from home. She was attempting to take her mother hostage to get love – and what did Mardi do…sent her 4-year-old brother to track Mum. Not come after her, like any well mother would do. And my heart broke for that little girl.

So now Dad and I have taken the role of negotiators; I’ve begun to feed him strategy and build Mum up – because the abandonment fear goes to inferiority. Even recently her older brother told her that she was stupid to her face, twice! Honestly, who are these people?

What it comes back to is this…are you listening to yourself? Is your gut screaming at you to create change and you’re actively ignoring your intuition?

I had depression because I wasn’t reacting and responding to my trauma. Sometimes you’re on a ledge, with a burning change platform and you’re frozen with fear. I was. Now I’m not.

If you’ve got a burning platform and it directly affects someone that you’re responsible for, like children, and you’ve got your fingers stuck-in-ears, going ‘la la la’ – then I’d suggest to do something, even small, to see what could be.

Because funnily enough, once you have change impetus it creates a chain reaction…and that’s when you know that you’re on the right path. Even if it’s just a courageous conversation with yourself. You’ll feel heaps better.

Addendum: my old man Sandy gives great eye…needless to say, he’s no hostage either. I guess you do learn from the best.

 

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

Despite the fact that Ros looked and felt like a woman in extreme pain, her hair was perfectly parted and brushed – the attention to detail provided me with some necessary insight.

Earlier this week, I engaged the certified West Australian gem valuer to help me hock the family jewels for start-up funds – but on meeting her, my professional interest turned personal.

One of life’s shadow boxers, Ros keeps her family-of-four together – surviving day-to-day; caring for her son, who can experience up to 1000 daily seizures through traumatic brain injury. Hence the exhaustion: she sleeps with Shaye to keep him alive…a mother’s love.

Before I arrived, Ros sent specific instructions as to location and parking – giving me pause. Usually people who seek such order, invariably have a significant part of their lives completely spiralling out of control.

The trick for Earthlings, is to gather the facts so we don’t rush judgement – and we will always judge…it’s human nature. Anyone who tells you not too, is misguided.

So how does one generate compassion in the workplace – when your back’s to wall and it’s all you can do, not to tell people to fuck off and leave you alone when you’re under the pump too?

People teach you about people, including yourself – so for me, the only real question in life is ‘why’? Because to know where someone comes from is the key to understanding and acceptance – which leads directly to compassion.

I use a neuro-linguistic programming technique called perceptual positioning. NLP has become so popular that NASA use the science to design instrument panels.

And businesses like Oracle, IBM, American Express, Apple, Xerox, Mercedes, BMW, etcetera use the technique to improve communication, build teams and increase productivity.

In 2001, FBI’s Law Enforcement Bulletin August issue commented, ‘enhancing communication and, hence, building rapport represents the most applicable aspect of NLP to investigators.

‘The ability to communicate effectively stands as one of the major contributors to a police officer’s success in dealing with the public.’

The beauty of perceptual positioning is that it imbibes the adage – walk a mile in someone’s shoes, by tapping into your imagination.

The three positions are first, second and third – the first, being the easiest as ‘self’, whereby one sees, hears and feels from their perspective.

It’s a powerful position to know oneself, to have emotional granularity and act in accordance with personal beliefs – but there is danger in the untenable position of attempting to remain an island.

The second position relates to values and beliefs of another that cause them to act in cultural accordance. Again, a powerful position to visit – because the danger in remaining here, is to ignore the systems that drive you.

The final position is markedly different, in that, it’s completely rational: to be experienced with no emotion. The observer detaches, like a fly on the wall, to perceive the communication and behaviourism of both parties thus conducting a logical situational analysis.

And it works. Many years ago, I had a manager suffering obesity who sought control by micromanaging employees – an incredibly frustrating situation for all parties. I recognised him for exactly who he was and understood his pain – because I too, was once an overeater.

Everyone was oblivious to his trauma, so I actively worked against the negative press – because that’s the job. As human beings, we must generate our care-lens and the care-lens of counterparts, so that we grow the compassion required to accept and help each other. We are all that we have, in the end.

My grandad had it in spades, when the Commanding Officer of 2/6 Cavalry Commando charged a minefield during the Battle of Bardia, Egypt between 3-5 January 1941 – flanking the enemy in the newly mechanised reconnaissance regiment, with a machine gun to protect his men.

And how they loved him for it – this solider’s solider. The original light horseman was awarded the Military Cross for his actions, and backed up his professional love again, to protect his Farida Force troops in Papua New Guinea – again awarded for courage under fire, the Distinguished Service Order.

But Lieutenant Colonel Eric Claude Hennessy was ahead of game. Although described by To the Green Fields Beyond author Shawn O’Leary as a ‘man who was made for war’ – Hennessy proved something all warriors know.

That it’s not about you or me – it’s about us. Love actually does makes the world go round. So who can you reach out to, and help today? I’ll give you a hot tip: it’ll make the both of you feel good…like the humans that you are.

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