Finally, after three months in New Brunswick, I am back home in the sunny Okanagan. It is a delight to be home and the lake, vistas, people and climate never disappoint.
Like many people however, I have to come home to a bully!
It is not easy living with a bully. I often come away bleeding and bruised. Most of the time I can’t move for fear of being seen and subsequently attacked. While I try and keep a low profile and avoid attracting attention, it is usually impossible. At some point I will be found and duly assaulted.
The bully in my house doesn’t even belong to me! She is my son and future daughter-in-law’s who are in town after finishing a degree at UBC in Vancouver. Their goal is to open a new restaurant and bar in Kelowna so as they get their feet settled, they share our home.
The bully I am referring to is one of their dogs, a Pitbull they affectionately called Oonagh.
Oonagh was a rescued dog. I remember the first day they arrived at the house after picking her up. They were walking to the front door and I just shouted “It’s a pit bull” and put my arms out to greet the dog that ran up to me enthusiastically wagging her tail. Since that day, I have been Oonagh’s chew toy.
She is not afraid to draw blood in her over zealous greetings. Often with little puncture wounds in my ears or nose that she affectionately nibbles (affectionate is a relative term for a pit bull since they feel virtually no pain!) I delight in the attention this little pit bull dishes out to me. But the love that she shares is not restricted to me in any way at all. Anybody who has met Oonagh once before is going to get a serious Pitbull welcoming session when they arrive at the house.
The word pit bull is enough to terrorize most people. With unfair headlines running around the world of this breed being vicious it is clear that most journalists have never met Oonagh or some of her friends. For sure, they can be bred to be vicious and definitely you want to exercise caution when you own a Pitbull, but, they are not all lethal!
She is the most adorable friend, and possesses an amazing memory. The only person in our family she has not taken to quickly is my father-in-law. In her previous life we think she was possibly beaten by an older man because she was the slowest to accept him as her friend. But she has now.
In total there are now three dogs in the house and thankfully we live on an acreage. My dog, a large Italian Maremma, that rules the roost and guards everyone on the property, Oonagh, the little Pitbull (all 18 inches and fifty pounds of her) and Miura, my kid's other dog who is a Husky cross and acts aloof all the time usually so that you don’t watch her steal food!
It is a busy house, sometimes a little chaotic. Interestingly, all of the dogs get on great together with the occasional tussle to sort out the pecking order but nothing serious.
Life is certainly difficult living with a bully. She craves attention, insists on dishing out some Pitbull love when you first arrive and even more so, insists that you rub her belly and help her drift off to sleep to recover from the over zealous greeting she just bestowed on you.
My wife thought she would be terrified of a Pitbull in the house but now Oonagh is one of her best friends!
I have chaired a lot of committees in my time and been the president of various corporations and organizations. Often I am in those situations because I am better suited to working on the vision of an organization - it has given me the opportunity to study when delegation works and when it doesn’t.
What makes delegation work?
Here are 5 principles of delegation that may help you approach your next task a little differently.
1. Don’t simply be the BOSS. The first and most common mistake (particularly with junior leaders) is to simply boss someone around and assume it is delegation. Delegation infers a task to be completed. The other day I witnessed a young leader tell someone to go over to a building and tell the guy in there to come and speak to him, he wanted a meeting. The delegated person ran across the courtyard to the office on the other side and asked the gentleman to come and speak to his boss. The answer? You guessed it... “Why should I go over there, tell him to come over here.” This situation could be referred to as nouveau leadership. Someone flexing their muscles, but instead of delegating effectively, the initiator just wasted three people’s time. Make sure that in delegating you are effectively moving a situation forward.
2. When you delegate the task, ask yourself a simple question. Is it a critical task? If it is, you should likely be involved. Don’t be lazy. Some projects are projects you need to have a firm hand on.
3. Will the person you are delegating to benefit from the task. If you are a leader, you should be concerned about developing leaders. If that's the case, see if you have the opportunity to help one of your staff or colleagues move out of their comfort zone a little. Mentor them even though you have charged them with a task.
4. Is there someone in your organization with a skill set more adapted to the task than you? If you have a specialist, give them free reign to complete a project for you. Use their talent, that is why they are there.
5. Can you do something more productive while the task is being delegated? This is what the Army calls concurrent tasks and is the most beneficial facet of delegation. If someone can do what you were going to do, you can be free to focus your strengths on something more important.
So stop “bossing” people around and start leading them. Your organization will benefit tremendously.
Last weekend, I lived through the remnants of Hurricane Arthur slamming into the east coast. I am currently at CFB Gagetown with the Army and luckily we came out from a field exercise late on Friday afternoon before the Hurricane hit our area in the early evening.
I woke up to complete chaos. All I could hear was emergency sirens, screaming winds and lashing rain. Sure enough, as one might expect, the power was out!
Being on a military base you would expect back-up power, but it did not arrive, at least not for several hours.
What I witnessed was almost entertaining. It was an utter dependence on technology and entertainment. The back-up power failed three or four hours after it arrived!
When I go to Africa with our charity, I witness whole regions of villages with no running water and no electricity. I see people smiling and walking together, enjoying each others company or simply sitting and enjoying the view. It is as if they are oblivious to their own problems.
This past weekend I witnessed people completely lost! Unsure how to even charge a cell phone or do their laundry, even though we still had running water. Sure it was inconvenient, but the way we all reacted was fascinating.
For me, I caught up on work using an increasingly slower cell phone data connection and kept going until my batteries died. For others, they went with friends in vehicles to see if anywhere else had electricity. Sadly, most people were thinking the same thing and line ups at gas stations became increasingly long and tensions increased. Most restaurants and stores were closed as the province struggled to keep it’s grid powered.
Why, when a storm hits town and is predicted to last for only a day, people feel the need to line up and fill their car up with gas is beyond me. Same for Tim Hortons. It was as if the world were coming to an end. Hurry up and get your last coffee now.
It reminds me of a story I heard about someone who asked a very wise man if he could teach him how to be successful.
The wise man led the student into the middle of the river and said “Are you sure you want to know the secret of success?” “Yes,” replied the student at which point the wise man grabbed his head and thrust it below the water.
The student was completely taken aback. He was already short of breath and his teacher had a very strong grip. He was surely going to die!
As time went on, seconds turned in to a minute and the student realized he was close to his last breath. He had been fighting the teachers grip all the time but mustered all the energy he could for one big attack.
Finally he broke free and thrust his head into the clean fresh mountain air and gasped large volumes of air in an attempt to recover.
He couldn’t help himself, he was scared. He lashed out verbally at his new teacher accusing him of trying to kill him.
The teacher looked him in the eye and said “You wanted to know the secret of success”. “I did said the student, but you tried to kill me”. “Nonsense” said the teacher. “Do you remember how desperately you wanted that air? How you would have done anything to get to the surface?” “Yes,” replied the student. “Well, when you want success that badly, you will be ready.”
This past weekend, I saw many people including me, who wanted electricity, power and entertainment so badly that they were willing to go to extraordinary lengths to get it.
In reality, it was an amazing experience to witness the power of a remnant hurricane moving in to Canadian territory with incredible force. Many communities are still waiting for power today.
Strangely, I still feel more comfortable with forest fires!
I was looking for inspiration for an article this week, so I decided to do some research on trending Google searches. Essentially, looking to see what news “we” are looking for.
The common misconception is that we are fed news when in actual fact in the digital age, we live in a self serve, “all you can eat” environment.
With the FIFA World Cup nearing its completion, it was no surprise that some of the terms were oriented towards progress in this global competition that has thrown more than a few “bend it like Beckham” shots at us. Surprises abound on the International Football arena.
The biggest surprise for me though was to see our fascination with other people’s lives. As it turns out, 50% of the most popular search terms were people or groups of people. Usually rock stars, reality TV stars and famous people whose lives were in the gutter!
Why is it that we are so fascinated with other people’s lives. So much so, that we will overlook the opportunity for progress in our own lives?
What we seem to subliminally yearn is the success that other people are able to achieve. We dream about what it would be like to live their lives and yet all we read about is stories of train wreck after train wreck. It is not unlike the lottery column I wrote a few weeks ago.
Instead of spending time planning how we can progress and grow in our own journey we read of other people’s misgivings and perceived success.
If there is one amazing thing you could do for the rest of the year, it would be to sit down with your family or closest friends, simply review what your goals were for the year and how you are doing in terms of moving towards those goals.
Have you backed off? Have you developed habits that distract you from your purpose? Can you recover now in July and finish the year strong? How can you be a better person at the end of this year than you were at the beginning of the year?
The first thing I think many of us could do (myself included) is to limit our exposure to news and information that does nothing to benefit us positively.
I had a colleague several years ago who always suggested you ask yourself one simple question before tackling one of those “urgent tasks”, you know, the ones we feel we have no choice but to execute.
“Will what I do now make a difference in my life five years from now?”
Seems really simple doesn’t it?
Read more The Accidental Journey articles
The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.
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- Shout it out! May 2
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- Learning to flirt with the edge Apr 18
- Keeping a clear focus on the future Apr 11
- Repetition can cure fear Apr 4
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- One person can make a difference Mar 21
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