I’m a bit late to the game, but ‘better late than never’ – I guess.  

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent – 40 days where Christians are called upon to deepen their individual and collective spiritual lives. 

The notion here being that the sustained practice will help improve our spiritual well-being and help us become more mindful/aware of how the Spirit is present and working in our lives. 

Recent events, whether they be minor accidents, passing comments, or something deeper, have given me pause to reflect on how I am being ‘present’ and if I am truly mindful of my being, my actions and my intentions. 

Instead of ‘giving up’ something for Lent, I am going to embark on a journey of sharing. 

I’ve had a passion for photography and over the last couple of years that passion has waned. Grant it – I still take many photos but with no real intent or purpose. 

So tonight I took a look at my photo library and I was amazed at how many photos I have taken. While there are over 15,000 photos in my library, I have forgotten what some of those photos mean – the memories, the importance, and the instrinsic value has all but been lost. 

Recognizing that, I thumbed through, as one can do, my digital library and picked out 30 photos. With each photo came a memory – an opportunity to reflect on a time, place and / or person. 

Over the next 30 days, I will be sharing those photos via my Instagram feed. I’ll be using this time to silently recognize and appreciate a time, place or being and how my life has been enriched. 

If you are so inclined, you too can share what’s important to you. 

Taking time…

December 6, 2013

It’s been just over a week since I pushed back from my desk and take time to regroup and readjust. First things first, to those who reached out, read my words, and offered an ear, a heart felt thank you.

I am not naive enough to believe that the my world can right itself in 9 days, but I do believe that the time afforded me, has yielded some tangible benefits. I took care of the ‘small things’ that have been neglected and acted as a constant reminder that I wasn’t taking care of my space.

My living room is now a room where I can sit back, turn on the radio, curl up in a chair and read 7 chapters of a book. This was a big win. There is no longer a TV in the living room. There is more open space, space I soon to have filled with friends and colleagues, as we listen to and share an appreciation for music and its vinyl incarnations.

I also spent some time putting together my wall of fame and honour. This wall serves as an homage to the personalities that I admire, that I have learnt from and that I respect. With yesterday’s news, there will soon be another photo to hang on the wall. No doubt my son will ask me questions about why this person and that person, and I can use this as an opportunity to share with him.

Speaking of family, there was the always uncomfortableness of a funeral, the stress, the questions and the tears it brings, last Friday. It serves as a reminder of the fragility of life and the need to nurture those familial relationships. In fact, I remember apologizing to my Mom for a remark I made on Saturday afternoon. She too apologized for her reaction. It was strange feeling, but it opened up a door for a deeper conversation about the importance and the need to deal with issues as they present themselves and not let them fester.

A special thank you to the friend who shared with me an article from George McKeown, ‘Reduce Your Stress in 2 Minutes a Day.’ If you have the time, or the inclination, please take the time to read this. The message and the suggestions provided are simple and reinforced one of the readings (‘‘The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari’) I did while I was in Thailand. It’s amazing how quickly we can get out of rythm, out of practice and as a result out of balance.

One of the easy things that fell-off was my commitment to running. It was easy to make excuses. I was too busy. It was too late. You need to get to work early. However, they were simply roadblocks I had put in place. Thankfully, I have returned to running. I hold no illusions, and know it will take some time to get back into the habit of running, but it is something I know that I need to do. More running to come and I am looking forward to it.

My initial plan was to return to work on Monday, but a conversation with someone I respect, suggested that it takes a full week to decompress and another week to put in place a strategy, for how you will return to work. At first, this caught me off guard and I wasn’t quite sure how to react to the suggestion to take additional time. After a conversation with a good friend, over coffee, the more it made sense. There needs to be a plan in place.

One lesson that I will bring back with me, one that my friend shared with me a few years ago, is to ‘accomplish one thing for yourself each day.’ These need not be monumental accomplishments. The mundane and the pragmatic accomplishments can also work. I believe this can apply equally to both one’s personal and professional lives.

My friend also gave some sage advice as to handle some of the professional challenges. His advice, a different way of looking at my role, as a manager within the public service, provided a fresh outlook and an opportunity for me to not only question my role and my reactions, but also change the way in which I approach and address issues. Like with any skill, this will take continual practice, but I am looking forward to learning.

Looking forward to the week ahead, I will be focusing my thoughts on what I can do as a manager to better support my team. One of them is to be present, which ties in with the messages of Greg McKeown and Robin Sharma. I need to be there and being there is part of being successful.

Regroup and Readjust

November 27, 2013

I made a decision at work.  For some it came as a surprise, for me, it has been brewing for some time now.  Admittedly, I am one that naturally avoids conflict, one that is more likely to listen than to talk, one that generally provides advice, but fails to listen to my own words.  

Today, out of the blue for most, I decided to step back, regroup and readjust.  The decision to step away from the office, for an indefinite period of time, seems rash.  As I sit here and type this, I question my own strength, my own resilience, and my own value.  

With every fibre of my being, I truly believe in the honour and the humility that comes with being a public servant.  This sentiment is echoed even more loudly as a manger within the public service.  As a manager we have a duty to care, to nurture and to deliver.  

For me, and I recognize this reflection comes mere hours after making the decision, I may just have taken on too much.  By taking on too much, I let my team down, I let my department down and I let my family down.

Earlier today, I moderated a discussion between a group of young public servants and a senior leader within the organization.  This senior leader shared some sage advice.  He mentioned that you need to take chances, you need to be true to yourself – in effect, ‘you only live once’, but you have got to live it right.

His words gave me pause for reflection, coupled with the tragic loss of a family member on Sunday night, I realized that i needed to step back.  I needed to regroup and readjust.  

I had a conversation with two of my colleagues – two trusted friends – and let them know that I was going to take some time.  They were supportive. And while they said they understood, I can’t help but feel I am taking the easy road out.  

But at the end of the day, I know the work will go and we will deliver like we always do.  During my conversation with my two friends, one of them remarked, ‘perhaps you care too much.’  Those words too gave me pause to look inside.  

I understand and appreciate the sentiment  As a public servant, and as a manager, I am not sure we can ever care enough.  

There is a bigger lesson in here and it will take some time to uncover and learn from it, but for now, the decision to take some time away has been made. 

Over the coming days, I will focus on these 3 small words: ‘Regroup and Readjust.’ If you have insight, I’d welcome the opportunity to listen…and to talk.