In life, the only person you are stuck with is you.
This realisation hit me (dangerously) hard when I was sacked as CEO of the Melbourne Football Club a few years back. It was the second time I’d been sacked as CEO by the Demons. What followed was the too sluggish and unsettling realisation that, after 30 years, there was no future for me in the game.
In these moments, we have a relatively simple choice. Feed the good wolf (love) or the bad wolf (hate). I have done both. Sport is a heroes and villains business.
The irony is, as I have learned, it is much easier to find solitude and acuity when all seems lost. We rarely find it when life is on a roll. We are too busy.
To start feeding the good wolf, I firstly needed to forgive myself. Shake hands with the bloke in the mirror to access the new ‘truths’ now within arm’s reach to find a new form of self-reliance. Of course, these ‘truths’ were there the whole time. I was oblivious. They were lost in the noise and overwhelm that had become my shield and identity.
I needed to change the conversation. What part of me was I no longer putting up with?
Learning to say ‘no’ to myself to get to ‘yes’.
A couple of years after looking out at a packed media conference in the MCG boardroom trying to explain my demise as CEO (again), I was studying fine art at the Victorian College of the Arts. This path then took me to the concept that is now designCEO while remaining a practising artist.
Sometimes we need to take ourselves to the edge of our identity to create a new harvest.
The drawing below of former Collingwood captain Terry Waters titled “Magic Hands” is a recent drawing, inspired by a life beyond the game, but still embedded in the game.
I’d been handed a gift.
This is some of what I learned.
“Who are you hanging out with, and what are you talking about.”
As Dr Michael Gervaise would say as one of his keys to learning and growth:
“Put yourself in conversation with wise people”.
But not with reverence. No pedestal is required, nor helpful as a respectful equal. Bring your own insights. Make it personal.
“Curious wisdom” I call it.
The courage, confidence and humility to:
- Be curious enough to have your mind changed. Admit you have more to learn.
- Offer your wisdom, the insights from a lifetime of lived and learned experience. It is a reciprocal conversation. You have much to share, and I am yet to meet a wise person who is not a learner.
Actor Matthew McConaughey in his excellent and highly recommended memoir “Green Lights” describes it as “less impressed, more involved” when in conversation with people you admire. I like that.
“I spent my whole life gripping a baseball, and in the end, I found out that all along it was the other way around.“
The ex-baseball pitcher Jim Bouton, in his seminal sporting memoir, “Ball Four”, wrote the epitaph for every professional athlete when he arrived at this poignant, bittersweet conclusion.
We all have a metaphoric baseball.
An App: We all need help with the process of transition.
I am into Milanote.
Someone described it as the Evernote for creatives.
It is a tool of transition. It brings a visual to the process of developing concepts in that sticky note sort of way with an excellent interface and workspace, as well as being fantastic for keeping references such as websites, images etc.
“I am not a creative”, I hear you say.
Ok, I recommend it to anyone who needs to come up with innovative solutions to complex and ambiguous situations.
Does that sound like you?
Take a look.
…and a timeless song lyric:
From a constant companion during a time of transition…
Nick Cave – Into My Arms
I don’t believe in an interventionist God
But I know, darling, that you do
But if I did, I would kneel down and ask Him
Not to intervene when it came to you
Oh, not to touch a hair on your head
Leave you as you are
If he felt he had to direct you
Then direct you into my arms
CEO & Founder
Leaders are in the ambiguity business. If we are not doing ambiguity, we are not doing leadership.read more
Leadership finds you wherever you are now but never leaves you where it found you.read more
I have no doubt it was these setbacks, personally challenging and heartbreaking at the time, that created the path to the work I now do.read more
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