A Sh!t Show
When an Aussie politico on live tv said ‘the vaccine roll-out is a fu**ing shit-show!’ it made my week, I have to admit. There are other highlights too, which is a beautiful segue into more good news: grey hair is reversible! Apparently, anyway, according to the ABC. Sure, we’ve known for years that stress or extreme fright can startle grey hair from passivity, but I had no idea that reducing stress may diminish silvering too. So, if you’ve got plumage like a battleship, those dark brown locks may just be around the corner (in a bottle, probably).
This week I picked up Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, focusing on the very smallest components of our daily lives, how we form instantaneous impressions when meeting a new person or confronting a complex situation, how packaging impacts our purchasing choices and how we know someone is a liar. Gladwell consistently sits me on my arse and has me muttering, ‘well bloody hell! That is fascinating!’ every few pages, which would be immensely annoying for anyone within earshot. Thankfully as Melbourne embraces lockdown number five (five, FIVE!) I’m not torturing anyone with my constant exclamations. Apart from you, obviously. Although this is a ‘snap-lockdown’, I had no expectation of this lasting five days, and this morning there are murmurings afoot to lengthen it. As my American friends said, ‘you’re in lockdown for 18 cases?! Americans would fu**ing riot!’ We’re very meek, risk-averse lambs down here in Australia, what can I tell you? We have a grand total of 911 deaths from COVID, contrasting to Americas 630,000 deaths and 34 million cases. (America has roughly 15 times the Aussie population, and 700 times more COVID deaths). Apropos of nothing, the UK had seemed to turn a corner, reaching only 1,300 cases a day on May 1st. Many a pint was quaffed. They’re now sitting at a not so pretty at 54,000 cases a day. Why? Delta strain and humungous football crowd gatherings, probably. Still on track to release all restrictions on July 19th? Abso-sodding-lutely!
So back to my favourite news of the week. Many years after giving up the throne of being an ineffectual opposition leader, the ex-Labour head-honcho sent lips-flapping for calling the Australian vaccine roll-out a fu**ing shit-show on live television. If he’d have grown a spine a bit earlier, he may still have been leader. Still, his comments were very well received by at least me. “Scott Morrison (our Prime Minister, for now) is missing, you want to put up posters like the neighbourhood cat, 'has anyone seen Scott Morrison?' No wonder people hate politics, when the people you pay to do the job don't want to do the job . . . the political class are letting down the punters.’
Yup, that pretty much sums it up. Grey hair is reversible, eh? Huzzahh!!
Don't 'Pick Your Battles'
Having clicked over 100 books on self-improvement and leadership, the latter a role I’ve worked in for over a decade, I figured I'd write a leadership book of my own. This may take a while! What the hell is a leader, anyway? We’re all leaders, whether inside of work or outside, and being a parent is a great example. When your kids are young, you tell them what to do, and as they get older, you yell instead. At some point comes the tough explanation of ‘why?’ and you have to relay it in terms they’ll understand, like the back of the hand! (jokes!) If you’re very lucky, you’ll set an example, hopefully a good one. Maybe they’ll want to be ‘just like mum/dad!’ Now that could come from daily tongue-lashings and career advice – ‘so . . . my moon and stars, my apple of my eye, what do you want to be when you grow up? You can be anything! You can be a doctor or a lawyer . . . anything!’ – or it can be that you’ve inspired them. That’s leadership. Taking people on a journey, inspiring them to be better.
Sometimes I come across a passage in a book, ruminate on it, spill tea all over it, forget about it, come back to it, wonder how that tea-stain got there, and ruminate more. I love those head-nod passages of text where you realise, I’ve done that – shit! Bridgewater, one of the most respected and successful investment management firms of all time was started by Ray Dalio, and his Principles (over 200 of them) are echoed from the top-down throughout his entire company. Here’s one:
“Don’t ‘pick your battles.’ Fight them all. If you see something wrong, even something small, deal with it.” Dalio’s point is that small things that you let someone get away with can lead to bigger problems, more serious divergence from the desired behaviour. Show courage, speak out, don’t let people off the hook. Ask the important questions, don’t take their word for it, independently check for yourself.
I love this a lot; it specifically targets your integrity. This is the extension to the argument that the standard you walk by, is the standard you accept. If you see something, say something. The more we let accountability and responsibility slide, the less complaints we have when that person impacts us instead of our colleague or neighbour. It doesn't mean jumping onto social media platforms to argue why BTS will never usurp Take That's place in my heart, I've found.
Reading for this week: Think Again: How to reason and argue by Walter Smith Armstrong, teaching the fundamentals of reasoning and how to see the fallacies in arguments (definitely a ‘I’ve done that – shit! type of book) ; Robert Sutton’s Weird Ideas That Work, which needs a ‘could’ in there somewhere, as innovation ideas include hiring people you don’t like and defying authority/processes – genuinely some bloody good advice in this book, which may also get you fired; Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, an oldie but a goodie focusing on the smallest components of everyday lives such as the instantaneous impressions you get from the people or when confronted with a complex situation under stress. The trick, as I’m hoping to find in the book, is when to trust that first impression. Put $50 on black, now, now now!!! . . . oh, red . . . farkkk!!!
Writing and writing...