Monthly Archives: April 2010

Not All Leaders Are Good Leaders

Be a great follower and think for yourself!

Common misconception from leaders and followers “We thought, because we had power, we had wisdom.” Stephen Vincent Benét.

Don’t just follow a leader blindly, remember they are human too and are prone to making mistakes. Not all leaders are good leaders, so choose carefully whom you follow, ask questions and always think for yourself.

Leaders remember this; you are not the most important person in your organisation. A great leader does want people to think like them, rather to be able to freely think for themselves. Being in a position of leadership or management does not give anyone the right to bully or belittle those under them.

The following quote also applies to leadership “There can be no friendship without confidence, and no confidence without integrity.” Samuel Johnson.

There are very good leaders out there and very bad ones. As a follower you should always have the freedom to think for yourself, ask questions of the organisation and expect an answer, and you always have the freedom to leave. You should never be intimidated by those in leadership.

Always look to what the values of the organisation are, do they match your own? Are they modelled by the leaders? If they are not be very careful.

Paul S Allen

TEDxDunedin (A Reflection) 2

A reflection on the second TEDxDunedin event held 16 April 2010.

TED has the tag line “Ideas Worth Spreading”, this was again true tonight.

If I were to sum up the night succinctly it could be said like this… Don’t get stressed about what you do not have, live a simple but enjoyable life and when you come to leave this life make sure you have made your peace over what really matters.

The Speakers

Professor Andrew Bradstock “Mind the gap: why inequality effects us all”

It was a interesting to hear that New Zealand has the sixth largest equality gap between rich and poor in the world. It is not however a surprise to hear that this large gap has a negative effect on the whole of society. “We are all poorer because of inequality” The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer in New Zealand and across the western world. What we fail to grasp is that more wealth does not equal more happiness. It is not for us to judge that one materialistic rich life is better than a simple but content life. I have said in a previous article “Mediocrity to one person is excellence to another. It is not for us to judge the other, especially if we do not know all of the circumstances of the other.”

Andrew finished with an open call for dialogue around the question “What makes for a better society?”. Let me echo that call.


Kate Wilson “The Measure of Happiness – and Other Unmeasurables”.

The main message from Kate was that a happy life is not dependant on having things or more money or looking like this model or being rich. It is by working out your own values, that is what is really important to you. Contentment is not measured by commodities or consumer products or even the size of your bank balance.

Money is not part of this question. Money is just a tool.

The question to ask of yourself is “What is your measure of contentment?”.


Richard Egan “How To Die Well”.

The trend has been over the last few centuries that we are “living decades longer” but “dying badly” (especially long drawn out cancer and heart decease) and there has been a “growth on meaninglessness”.

Spirituality and death can not be separated, one could say that death is in every way a spiritual act, whether there is a particular faith or belief the act of dying is deeply spiritual. To die well implies that one has to prepare spiritually while still alive.

The spiritual is important and needs to be looked after regardless of personal belief systems.

A question was asked “how do we prepare for death?” This is not easy to answer but each of us needs to search for the answer, as Socrates said “an unexamined life is not worth living”.


I have personally had my brush with death as when I was five I nearly drowned and had to be rescued after I became unconscious , death now has no sting for me, I remember that it was very peaceful and knew I was in the safest place. I have a deep faith in God that sustains me. My father, who also has a strong faith, says “death is an exciting adventure waiting to happen” (he has a heart condition).

The whole evening topics could be summed up Live well, find out what makes you content, help others on the way and know how to die well.

Also part of this event was a video from Hans Rosling from TED India(Click the link below)

“Hans Rosling was a young guest student in India when he first realized that Asia had all the capacities to reclaim its place as the world’s dominant economic force. At TEDIndia, he graphs global economic growth since 1858 and predicts the exact date that India and China will outstrip the US.” (TED)

This was another excellent night and thanks to all those who organised and hosted this night.

Paul S Allen

Find out more about a TEDx event near you.

Why A Half Empty Glass Is A Good Thing

Is the glass half full or half empty?

There is no need to stress about the answer or what it means, but it is an opportunity to think differently.

Here are ten reasons why a half empty glass is a good thing.

  1. You have already enjoyed the first half
  2. You only want or need a small drink
  3. The glass could be very large so half a glass could be a big drink
  4. You have had enough to drink
  5. Half a glass is not equal to an empty glass
  6. You are saving the rest for later
  7. There is room for a “top up”
  8. You have not finished yet
  9. You have enough to share
  10. You know when to stop

We often see this cliché being used as a description of our perception, whether we have a positive or negative outlook on life. What we need to realise the answer has more than two options and these options can be positive, negative or neutral in nature.  (The cliché also assumes that it is a drink, it could be the perfect measure for an ingredient in a recipe or anything we want it to be)

When a problem is presented do not just look at the linear solutions, look at the possibilities that could exist. Allow your brain to be creative and think out of the box. For all the problem scenarios that exist there are many solutions waiting to be discovered, innovation exists in how we provide the solution.

Paul S Allen

Get Involved In Your Local Community

With a move to larger and larger cities there is a disconnection with the people who live the closest to us.  This dislocation of the individual from the local area is to the detriment of society as a whole. The place that I live becomes just a place to eat and sleep, do I care what is happening next door or across the road? Do I even know their names? Yet if we, as a community, reached beyond the boundaries of our own private properties we could find a richness of friends and support networks lost in our busy world.

I am not suggesting that we live in the pockets of our neighbours, but rather make a genuine effort to get to know who they are, caring enough to say hello, smile, notice them. There have been numerous stories about people who have died and not been discovered for weeks or even months. This should never happen in any society, and wouldn’t if we were involved in our local community.

Support your local business

What are the benefits of this?

  • Local businesses employing local people
  • Environmental issues i.e. less of a need to drive
  • Familiarity of the client to the business
  • focused on community needs

(Check out the New Rules Project for more reasons to support local business.)

Support your local community groups and churches. These locally focused groups have a wealth of knowledge and understanding  of what is happening in the area you live, but are often under-resourced due to an all to common focus on the city by organisations, funding agencies and local/national government.

If you support your local community, and other people support there local communities then we will see a more caring city.

Things to be aware of or do…

  • Do not become so focused that new people can not come in or feel like they are intruding
  • Welcome strangers
  • Be open to new cultures
  • Avoid gossip at all cost
  • Don’t become a member of a group just to be nosey
  • Get involved
  • Take personal responsibility for getting to know your neighbours
  • Everyone has something to contribute (old and young)

What do you want your community to be like? What are you going to do to see that it can happen?

Get involved in your local community, if you need to start an interest group, go to a local church,  simply say hello to a neighbour.

Paul S Allen

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