Ego vs Leadership, ergo a New Year a New You

ego

A while back I was thinking about leadership, borne out of watching the biopic, ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’ and also watching the enlightened Unilever-Oxfam ‘Project Sunlight’ advertising campaign on TV. The theme of the latter is leadership. ‘turning feelings into action’, as well as believing in something greater than ourselves, whatever the cost or sacrifice. Regardless of a person’s age or background, each and every one of us can make a difference in this world. Fact.

I have met a lot of leaders over the years, albeit from different industries such as Government leaders, entrepreneurs, Royalty, celebrities and creative artists. The ones who stand out are those who think past their ego. And I don’t say this lightly. Their character is infectious and with passion often flows change and success. We can all be a part of this circle of positive change, if we duly allow ourselves to, by taking our inherent selfishness and ego out of any particular equation.

Of the many people I have worked with, the people who allow their egos to take over the ‘why’ behind their efforts, always trip up. If we hark back to the likes of Mandela, Angelou, Gandhi, Branson, Luther King, Thatcher or Churchill, the public personae we all see, respect and hail, whilst some are hated (the haters will always be haters), they are trusted by many. And trust goes a long way. When the ego gets in the way, people often stop thinking clearly and they make mistakes. I have seen this time and time again.

It is often those in lesser roles, the over-compensators or those trying to be something they are not that let the ego take over. And when I say ego, I mean the importance of self rather than in support of the greater (and often global) good. Today, more than ever, we need leaders to help us move forward against an increasingly dark and frightening global backdrop. We need those who are prepared to take action and not just sit on the fence for safety or talk behind closed doors. To make the world safe, prosperous and secure, I genuinely believe we all have the collective power to achieve this end, together.

Without strong leadership, this is how any ‘terrorist’ or extreme political faction creeps into our lives. In broadest terms, take Nazi Germany in the lead-up to the Second World War and how their force rose to power in such an unprecedented way. Hitler was a leader, albeit a dictator and the German people believed and followed, partly because the social strata was weak. This can (and may) happen again, anywhere in the world, with different details but a similar, equally horrific outcome. Our social parachute is crumbling once again.

Only today, I saw on Facebook the horrific photo shopped image of skeletal Holocaust victims blazening anti-Israel slogans. Firstly, how does such a poster find its way onto Facebook and not be banned (when a small business might be banned for ‘selling’ services). And secondly, regardless of what you think of any political power or country such as Israel as an example only, how can anyone use such a barbaric and tragic image to sell political power. I find it abhorrent that we walk around with our eyes half-closed, fuelled by GM milk and green and white coffee cups (that I don’t drink I might add!).

If we had strong, trustworthy and emotionally intelligent leaders, the UK and its people would be in a better place culturally, socio-economically and politically. Our former National Pride would be restored in relation to modern times as well as remembering what we were as a Nation, as we did on Remembrance Sunday. It wouldn’t just be an Olympics, our Former Great Glory or a sporting win that temporarily united The British Isles. We need more. We hold a candle to Remembrance Sunday but allow extreme political groups to mock the very tragedies we uphold and remember as a Nation.

Great leaders inspire teams and motivate them to achieve great things, in any environment. A job becomes more than a pay cheque or clock watching within companies where leadership is strong. Individuals feel appreciated and usually love what they do. At innocent towers, for example, all staff used to have their own named breakfast bowl (I don’t know if they still do) – a small detail but…

Working in such a dynamic and fun place, who wouldn’t want to go to work in the morning just that little bit earlier to share and engage with colleagues? One of the brains and human wonders behind this amazing business, Richard Reed, is a delight of a man. He is a great role model for other business leaders. And just like every other (business) leader, he started out with a thought, a belief and a feeling…one that he and his colleagues turned into action.

Mandela could have died in prison or indeed turned his terrible ordeal into bitterness. He was prepared to die for his beliefs. I have visited Robben Island and can’t begin to imagine how he kept his mind strong in those conditions, before you even add into the equation that he lost his mother and son whilst incarcerated. Like some other great leaders, Mandela’s voice and light impacted upon the entire world, regardless of what might have gone on behind the scenes personally. And this extraordinary light will keep burning in his name. 

We can ALL make a difference, however big or small, regardless of whether you are saying thank you to the person serving you in Tesco’s to giving up your seat on the Bus to an elderly person. By doing so, that same person may continue the chain and be kind to someone else. You are leading by example. We can all be(come) effective leaders within the confines of our community and social environment.

The young passionate believers that feature in the Unilever-Oxfam advert are our symbol of hope for the future but we also have an individual responsibility, right now. We need to encourage and lead the young, nurturing talent and fresh voices who will not allow a lack of current positive leadership to deter them from achieving great things. On a micro scale we can all make responsible decisions, today. The very Planet that we are destroying is the home of our children and our children’s children. We forget this, amidst the chaos of a social and technological fog.

So what are you feeling or thinking is wrong in the world today? What is great and wonderful and how are you celebrating it? And, more importantly, if something is wrong, what are you doing about it? How can you be a better parent, partner, sibling, child, boss, colleague, altogether human being? Are you just standing on a soap box and doing nothing, complaining that life dealt you a tough hand? Or it is just your ego that wants to be heard and fed so you write provocative thoughts on Social Media to feel powerful? Choose your thoughts and feelings carefully today, park the ego and lead your children, staff or communities, by example, into a more positive and creative 2015. Make Madiba proud.

November 2014 Full Moon – Siri vs Sirius

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Pliny the Elder, the 1st Century Roman naturalist, stated in his Natural History, that the Moon “… replenishes the earth; when she approaches it, she fills all bodies, while, when she recedes, she empties them.”

It is Full Moon tonight (in Taurus) and whilst some of you might not believe in the power of the Moon, generations past (and present) live(d) and die(d) by the cycles of the big silver circle in the sky. If it was good enough for Pliny and all that. He knew what he was talking about, that chap.

Planet Earth, created over a period of millions of years, has depended on The Elements. An ability to survive was made possible by the Sun and the Moon in relation to the growing, harvesting and eating of food and crops. We, as evolved Humans, have quite stunningly chosen to destroy our World’s simplicity in the space of a few millennia. But the Elements remain and will outlive our Race I am sure of it. The Moon will shine bright tonight, bathing our seas and open spaces in a glow of light…wherever we are in the world.

For me personally, I was inspired by the power of the Sun, Moon, Stars and Sea by my late father, Jack. When I was just four or five, Jack taught me about Sirius (‘The Dog Star’) the brightest star in the sky. The ‘Star-like’ Star that inspired and guided much of Ancient Greek ritual and lifestyle.

Many people today won’t have a clue what Sirius is. Their nearest guess would be ‘Siri’ on their i-phone. Perhaps Apple, Inc’s late founder chose the name because he, too, was inspired by the brightest star in the sky. We will never know.

The Leslau’s used to go fishing a lot, so the Stars also became intrinsic to our quest for time with Dad and dinner! Every time I go out at night, even now, I look up at Sirius, just to make sure ‘it’ is still shining as brightly as ever. In a little girl kind of way I hope that my Dad is up there with Sirius, maybe even with Steve Jobs, if we take my fantasy one step further. Now that would be one fascinating meeting of minds.

The Full Moon affects us all, whether we notice it or not. We may jest about baying at the Moon or feel irritated without cause, but the Moon and the Stars do play a part in the Earth’s energy and magnetic fields. If energy didn’t touch us, we wouldn’t relax in a Zen-like Spa or get anxious in a crowded, hot tube train. We are kinetic dominos.

The Goddesses believed it was fortuitous to menstruate during the Full Moon and White Witches always cleanse their crystals on this very night. I will be doing the latter tonight. Scientists believe that sleeping may be difficult during Full Moon as we were historically programmed to stay up late and make the most of high tides to collect seafood by the shore.

Farmers use the Moon to guide activity. The Old Farmer’s Almanac (since 1792) states within the ‘Moon Folklore‘ section, that we should dig horseradish at Full Moon for a better flavour. And that crabbing, shrimping and clamming are best carried out at the time of the Full Moon.

Part of Rudolph Steiner’s theories, the man behind Biodynamics within farming and wine harvesting (I am big on Organic and Bio-Dynamic Wines) highlighted celestial activity to dictate practice and procedure. The Land always did and will always know best. In a silent and strong kind of way. Just how I like my men.

So, if you feel a bit weird today, can’t sleep or feel the urge to go and harvest seafood in your bathtub, do not be alarmed. It is Mother Nature’s way of reminding you that you are still Human. I wonder if Siri is affected by the Full Moon? She might just respond, “Be More Dog (Star)!”. Happy Full Moon everyone.

RIP Bridget Jones – the new face of Renée Zellwegger

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I can’t stop looking at Renée Zellwegger’s ‘new’ face. Not because I think she looks beautiful but because The Tourist’s punchline never rang more true: “Twenty million dollars on plastic surgery and that is the face you choose?”

I have never understood the appeal of plastic surgery.I know lots of people who have had it done and that is their choice. My mum always wanted it but I would never let her, not that she needed it. I understand it appeals to someone’s confidence and of course if a medical recommendation is made, 100% all the way.

BUT…I know or have seen so few women and men that look better post-surgery, it is upsetting. And I wonder WHY Renée felt the need to actually change her face. Is she trying to look more Hollywood ‘bland’ or just desperate for column inches, all for the wrong reasons?

I wonder if she is happy with her new face? Does anyone recognise her when she walks into a room? What would Bridget write in her diary? Maybe something like this:-

“Totally fucked up my plastic surgery face. Shall never leave the house again. No one will want an egghead. Will never read women’s magazines again. Where are my fags? Shit, can’t smoke, face won’t move. Shit, fuck, bollocks…”.

Bridget Jones is an international legacy that bonded Zellwegger’s career. It doesn’t matter that she wore big pants (we all have done on more than one occasion) but Bridget Jones showed the world that being insecure and a klutz is real, funny and endearing. She gave women everywhere hope.

And hope is a good thing. Bridget Jones was a much loved character that emerged on our screens based on Helen Fielding’s true-to-life diary and we empathised and related with Bridget, Mr Darcy and all of the characters. Particularly as a 30-something or ‘alienated’ singleton, I don’t think any of us could listen to ‘All By Myself’ again and not think of her.

I myself made my own version of this song, singing it as a five year old would, crying fake tears. I believe my best friend still has this on his phone somewhere and it was at his very restaurant that Bridget fattened up for the role: feasting on indulgent pasta and pizza.

Bridget was the Adrian Mole of adulthood, albeit with very bad cooking skills and a penchant for turning up to parties wearing the wrong clothes. Bridget forms part of British heritage and Xmas TV tradition and Renée totally ‘killed’ a British accent.

I am sad that I will never see Bridget Jones again as old and smug-married with Colin Firth’s salt n’ peppa brow. Meryl Streep manages to dominate our screens whatever role she plays: from her characters in Mamma Mia to August: Osage County, her features and form seem to mould into whomever she needs to be, without surgery. So why would Renée have made such a grandiose decision to completely remodel her face. Watch this space for her next movie announcement or her complete mental breakdown.

Bridget Jones, RIP.You will always be loved by this 44 year old. Number of cigarettes today: 0. Number of alcohol units: 0. Number of boyfriends: 0. Roll on Xmas.

 

Why life is like the perfect boiled egg…

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Life is all about timing.  From the number of minutes you allow for the perfect brew to finding your soul mate.  Most top chefs will ask any wannabe commis to break an egg and then boil one (with shell).  A perfectly boiled egg is pretty hard to achieve but when the timing is right, my, what a treat (with buttered soldiers, bien sûr).

In a film called ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’, the final line in the script tell us that “Everything will be alright in the end and if it isn’t alright, it isn’t the end”.  Boy George sang in the 80’s “Time won’t give me time…”.  Time is something we all talk about but never value enough.  Fifty years ago we probably had less time as everything took longer but people still had the very same 24 hours in a day.  The brew was on a slow boil.  Like all good relationships or ‘courting’, as it was known back then.

I think if we taught young people that timing is everything, a lot of ‘time’ would be saved worrying, wondering and pontificating instead of enjoying what we have.  Worry, stress and fear don’t change anything and they make you sick.  Nor do they make something happen any quicker or better.  And the gnat attention span that we all seem to favour fuels our headless chicken approach to life, love, play and business.

Going back to a food theme (and I have to tell you that one of my teachers at Junior School often commented that my stories were excellent but that I always talked about food!!) you can’t make a cake without the right ingredients or if the oven isn’t at the right temperature.  Bottom line, everything is about timing, just like the film ‘Sliding Doors’, with which I can relate in many ways.

Having been diagnosed with Cancer this year, it may be that I have become more pragmatic, hence this muse about ‘time’.  But even when my parents died, I wasn’t angry and I didn’t question why.  It was simply ‘their time’.  Time is something we can’t bring back or move forward.  It just is.  Acceptance is a very difficult state for us humans.

From children desperate to be older to older people who are desperate to be younger.  Or people who say they are too busy to exercise or take time for themselves.  Time is a precious commodity and we never best utilise it until the final full-stop is staring us in the face.  What drives me mad is people who waste my (precious) time.  There is no price tag on time.  And you can’t trade it in for anything else. 

Given stats on how much time people waste on social media (and I include myself in this statistic) why is it that we find time for this but can’t or don’t, for perhaps, more interactive or proactive activities?  Agreed, messing about on Facebook and Twitter is fun, gets the adrenalin going and makes you feel engaged with people around the world but we are always detached, at a distance – as the hands of the clock turn.

And here I am asking you to read my blog and take out time of your precious day.  For that I thank you and I hope it was time well spent.  The next time you have a boiled egg, consider how valuable each second was to the end result and bloody take the time to enjoy it!