Monthly Archives: October 2011

Keys for the Journey: Thoughts for the leader

The role of a leader is to take people to a new destination whether that is literal or figurative. Planning is critical as to the success of the journey and can solve many problems before setting out.

Here are ten things that you need to know.

1. Know where you are now.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

This is a commonly used saying but it can be translated “The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one’s feet.”

I prefer the alternative version as it emphasizes that we need to have an understanding about our current situation and circumstances. Taking stock of where you are and being self-aware and community-aware is a vital component to understand before launching on a new project or adventure.

2. Know where you are going.

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”
Lewis Carroll

You need a map, or at least some navigation tools (and know how to use them). To have a goal to achieve or to have a destination to get to is important as you ca use it to measure progress.

3. Know why you are going.

The “why” is the thing that will keep people motivated when they lose sight of the goal. It creates purpose and buy-in. Sometimes the reason for a mountain to be climbed is just because it is there, but to achieve victory on a great journey you need to know why you are traveling. Columbus did not travel into a big blue ocean for no reason, his purpose was to find new trade routes to Asia, discovering the Americas along the way was a by-product.

4. Know how you will travel.

The method is important and how you start a journey may not be how you finish it. There will be times when you will have to adapt to new environments to get there.

5. Know who you will travel with.

The team is important, they are not just the workers or minions, they are vital in achieving great things. They may be (and should be) better than you, highly skilled, technically minded people, people who get things done. They may be stronger leaders than you. They may annoy you, question you, disagree with you; you need them to. “Yes-men” will allow you to fall into a chasm because they won’t challenge you.

Some people may not stay for the whole journey but they will be always part of the story.

6. Know when to rest.

The journey may be hard, long, wearying, and dangerous, so know when to stop and rest.

Enjoy the scenery as this has two effects… 1 you and your team can refresh and re-energize themselves. 2 It gives you an opportunity to assess the situation, take stock, and plan the next phase.

Rest is vital to avoid burnout. If you do not rest you will make mistakes that may mean you will not succeed to your destination.

7. Know when to change direction.

very rarely in life is the path from “A” to “B” a straight line. you will need to change direction and even travel in the apparently wrong direction to reach your destination. There are obstacles to avoid unnecessary dangers to steer around, the terrain may be too hard to travel in that direction.

You may have gone down a dead-end. The only choice as a leader is to swallow your pride, turn around and backtrack until you can move in a better direction.

It is essential at these time to hold on to the map and to reiterate the “why”.

Humility will need to triumph over ego in these circumstances.

8. Know what the dangers could be.

Constantly be aware of the changing world around you (environmental, political,social etc). Listen to your team, what are they saying, they may have seen something you haven’t. Investigate and take seriously any reports of danger and after investigation act accordingly. Know what is real and what is fear.

9. Know what you need to take.

Provisions, skills, equipment, expertise, the old scout motto is all important here “Be prepared”.

10. Know what to do when you get there.

Plan the celebration, learn to recognize and celebrate achievements on the way. Remember the team got you there they should all be recognized. Don’t rest at the summit that is not the end of the road. this chapter may be finished but there are more to be written.

At this point go back to my first point know where you stand  then decide where you are going.

The only thing to know left after you have thought about all of this and have taken time to prepare is…

Know when to start.

Paul S Allen 

Hope, Attitude and Reality: Finding Strength in Difficult Circumstances

Positive thinking or a positive attitude may not bring about a cure, recovery or solution, but neither will negative thinking or a negative attitude. It will however improve your current state of being.

Three thoughts

1: Always hope, never lose hope, while there is breath in you there is hope.

2: Choose your own attitude.

“The last of human freedoms – the ability to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances.” Viktor E. Frankl

3: Accept the reality of your situation, act appropriately and always hold on to faith, even in difficult circumstances. Remember the Stockdale Paradox

“This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale

Positive thinking based in reality is positive action.

Paul S Allen

Please also read “Which is best? Positive Thinking or Positive Action?” by Claire Boyles on her site Life Matters 

Autumn Leaves by Paul S Allen

Think! … Your Country Needs It.

It is becoming more and more evident that people are losing the ability to think for themselves and are swayed by pleasant words, platitudes, sharp-looking suits and stuck-in-a-rut thought patterns.

People who blindly follow a leader, political ideology, belief or value system without questioning, are fooling themselves with a false sense of security.

Sadly politics at all levels is about popularity not ability. People vote because they know of a person and not necessarily what they stand for or what skills and experience they bring. Traditional party voting patterns are not agents of growth or change, they are merely a resignation to the same old thinking that holds our country from moving on.

Research is required into each candidate in each electorate and to all parties in the national race for power.  Whether the party is blue, green, purple, red, turquoise, yellow, polka-dotted or striped, it is the responsibility of all those eligible to vote to research each ideology the best they can and vote based on their own conclusions and personal values systems. Sadly I don’t think many people do.

There are ample occasions to meet and question candidates at this time of the election cycle and throughout each term of government. If the government is going to represent the people the people must present themselves for representation.

If you hadn’t noticed there is an election in a few weeks time in New Zealand; how about exercising your brain and take every opportunity to question all candidates before making your mind up.

Think for yourself, question, debate, research well and exercise your right to vote for the sake of our great country.

Paul S Allen

Forgiveness vs permission: A cautionary tale of retroactive legislation

by Paul S Allen

Blog originally posted on 9 October 2011

I have often heard from leaders the saying “It’s better (easier) to  ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission”. This may be so, but it  does not ever justify the actions of those asking – it merely “fixes” a  problem.

To me this is laziness, ignorance or incompetence on  behalf of the leader, whether that leader is in government, private  sector or community organisation.

There has been debate recently about a certain piece of legislation, the Video Camera Surveillance (Temporary Measures) Bill, that the government has tried to pass under urgency.

The discussion has mainly centred around one aspect of the act – the application of the bill – and not necessarily about its content. The area of concern was the proposed retrospective application of the bill to justify the illegal actions already taken by the Crown and its officials, to reach an outcome in favour of the government.

I have no issue with using initiative and decision-making on the front line, but it needs to be done within the bounds of delegated authority, or by mandate due to exceptional circumstances, but even this mandate can be worked out ahead of time.

To do the best you can with the information and resources that you have in hand at the moment of decision is excellent, but to decide on a course of action that you have no authority to take, then ask for that action to be justified later by retrospective minutes or law changes is asking for trouble. Allegations of fraud, corruption and a lack of transparency will cause organisations or government to become tarnished.

So what can be done to prevent this from happening?

Setting and enforcing clear lines of delegated authority, spending levels, policies and procedures, including situations of exceptional circumstances, can avoid many allegations against organisations and governments.

A person (leader) or government that finds themselves in a situation where they have breached these guidelines or policies needs to be held to account, and to rectify the circumstance.

Once a course of retrospective legislation or policy decision has been requested (note, I have said requested, not taken) the credibility of that organisation has been lost, and its leadership needs to seriously look at the tenure of their positions for the sake of their organisation, no matter how popular or charismatic those people are.

The Video Camera Surveillance (Temporary Measures) Bill, although not perfect, has passed after the removal of the retrospective clause.

But the fact that the government has proposed to use retrospective legislation in the first place should stand as a warning to all. The question is will they try to do it again: and if so, for what?


Paul S Allen

Legislation in Retrospect – Update

“Changes enable police surveillance bill to proceed” (RadioNZ)

I'm Watching You
I’m Watching You

(A follow-up to “Legislation in Retrospect“)

I am pleased that the select committee has changed the Video Camera Surveillance (Temporary Measures) Bill so that it does not apply in retrospect. This is a move in the right direction.


This Government has now clearly stated that they are prepared to change the law to suit their own interests and not in the interests or basic rights of the people whom they represent.

Once a Government brushes against the allegation of corruption (or corruptive practices and intentions) it is stained permanently.

The fact that they even looked at pushing through retrospective legislation in the first place shows the true nature of the current Government. Who is to say that if they had a full governing majority they would not have just forced that legislation through in spite of public objections?

A warning for the future, perhaps?

Paul S Allen
Barb Wire

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