Change is a great break

Last week, my very fabric was rejuvenated by a three-day trip to Salt Spring Island with some good friends who had moved to Victoria several years ago.

We had a lofty goal — to paddle touring kayaks from Ganges to Prevost Island. Hugely ambitious I know, but with our trusty guide Lisa, we set sail (or paddle) and about nine kilometres later, we had arrived on our Treasure Island before falling asleep for a nap.

Napping is an important pastime on vacations and this trip was no exception. Our guide showed extreme patience as various members of the group — typically inspired by my snoring — simply lay down and napped in fields, on beaches, even rocks.

The local log became affectionately known as “the couch” as the attached photo attests.

It was relaxing, educational and at some points exciting as we paddled in some blowing winds and encountered wavelets! The wildlife was on show and the meals were superb.

When I returned, I was reminded by a friend of the impact of a story I had shared with her a few years ago. I had told about a trip my wife and I took to Whistler where we locked ourselves in a hotel room only to leave once we had redesigned our life.

We had changed our priorities and decided to put ourselves in the middle of the decision-making equation. If it were not for that, we probably would not have been on Salt Spring Island at all.

It turned life on end for us. It gave us a perspective that we had never focused on before.

We designed a life we actually wanted to live.

The change we fear most is the change that is the most healthy for us. Too often, we settle for decisions that only benefit one aspect of our life, often to the detriment of other important areas and relationships. 

I embrace change. I live it, love it and promote it. My best advice for anyone who wants to change is invest in the process early. If you believe you want to learn to play the piano, buy the piano.

You can only sit and look at it so long before you actually do something about playing it. If you don't make that commitment, you will forever wonder if you could have been a piano player.

So our break was amazing, Salt Spring Island Adventure did a remarkable job of hosting us and I for one live by the Latin phrase made more common by the Robin Williams movie — Carpe Diem.

Fires are completely natural

Fires don't help tourism and we sure as heck don’t enjoy choking on smoke. The views may not be as stellar as they usually are, but fire is natural and necessary.

Today, because of our unnatural management of fire, we are living in one of the oldest and most dangerous forests the western provinces have seen.

If you are able to look at photos of old communities from 100 years ago, it is noticeable that in many instances the forested mountains up to alpine resemble bald prairie.

That is simply because of large scale forest fires that consume massive amounts of forest and there was no mechanized assistance available to suppress the fires.

Today, we live in a veritable tinder box of ageing and dead lumber that ordinarily would have burned off years ago.

Our concerns about logging in watersheds are really man-made concerns because those same watersheds years ago were not immune to fire that wiped out the same trees we struggle to unnaturally preserve today.

So what is the answer?

For years, the debate has been raging in Canadian council chambers, but I think there are only a few possible solutions.

First, municipalities need to listen to forestry experts who would typically advise them to thin the forests in interface ares to remove dead timber and maintain a density much less than it is today.

It naturally has a cost, but the financial burden may well be worth the peace of mind.

Second, create a fire guard and maintain it around susceptible communities. I understand it is not pretty to take a mechanical mulcher and clear a highway around a town or municipality and, in some instances, it is not even possible, but the investment now is probably going to save a lot of money in the future.

The fact remains, however, that the smoke is completely natural.

A very green solution to maintain healthy forests would also be to consider regional based biomass generation plants that burn the excess lumber (renewable energy) to generate power and provide CO2 to the forest that grows and provides a cleaner environment.

A perfect study In leadership

When we think of a favourite leader who has impacted our life, what are the qualities that leave such an incredible impression?

Perhaps a few of them might include:

  • Humility
  • Calmness
  • Thoughtfulness
  • Inspiring
  • Engaged
  • Hard working
  • Natural Leader
  • Communicator
  • Worldly
  • Focus
  • Confident
  • Transparent
  • Honest
  • Integrity
  • Passionate

No matter whether the person is leading a corporation, an organization, a team or influencing people outside of their sphere they need to be able to put checks in some of these boxes to be successful at leading.

My favourite story about leadership is in relation to John Maxwell, himself a very inspiring business thought leader.

John used to be a pastor a church that required approximately 2,000 volunteers to operate. A significant organization in anybody’s books.

He then had the opportunity to change location and pastor a new church. The congregation was naturally disappointed, as was John Maxwell after developing so many close relationships. 

The geographic move was substantial and he expected to build a church from the ground up and train more volunteers.

What surprised John is that many of his volunteers resigned their jobs, sold their houses and moved with him… such is the influence of a competent leader.

What confuses me most is how Donald Trump is even president of the U.S. Could he put checks in any of the boxes above?

Would a new list of leadership qualities include bullying, arrogance, ignorance, vulgarity, crudeness, and impoliteness?

Trump is a perfect study for students of leadership. He is running an organization with a revolving door that appears to be built on a foundation of intimidation and lies.

His modus operandi is to routinely pull the rug out from under the feet of his most senior advisers. None of these are leadership qualities.

The other important question is did Trump just shake up Washington (as was his promise) or did Trump discover that Washington is his greatest nemesis — perhaps a place that is complex, not transparent with a tendency to bully when it does not get what it wants.

The one thing that I can guarantee is that when Trump is engaging with so many enemies on his own turf and initiating battles daily with various individuals, he has no power to tackle the global challenges that the U.S. will face increasingly with his isolationist policies.

I think I have an idea how it might play out.

Butt heads don't get It

It is more than alarming that a small group of people, butt tossers, can willingly inflict so much damage and destruction on innocent people and communities.

I know they don’t get it, but I sure don't understand their motivation either.

Lets look at the numbers.

  • Total number of fires in B.C. so far this year: 688 (Source: BC Gov fact sheet)
  • The cost so far: $81 million
  • Fires started by people: 50 per cent

Occasionally, there is a camp fire involved or some other means of igniting a fire, but let's put all those brain dead folks in to one camp and call them butt heads. 

Before I go much further, I do understand there are responsible smokers, no issues here, but if you toss butts or light campfires when you shouldn’t, then this applies to you as an official butt head.

If half the fires are caused by humans, essentially arson.The intent during a fire ban is clearly to risk starting a fire and damaging property.

That warrants jail time in my mind, but before we go, there let's look at the average cost of the fire.

$81 million divided by 344 fires is $235,500. That is not even close to the cost of a big fire.

That should be the minimum fine anyone gets for lighting fires during a fire ban and tossing a butt on to the ground. 

My surprise is that: they just don't get it. 

I know there are many people who are frustrated, saddened, sickened and broken by the irresponsible actions of a few mindless idiots in the province.

I don't know what the solution is, but labour camps in the wilderness might be a good idea.

On a more positive note, local entrepreneur Jack Elliman has a solution that has been available for a while
Check it out and maybe buy a few to give to some of your favourite smokers.

More It's All About . . . articles

About the Author

Mark has been an entrepreneur for over forty years. His experience spans many commercial sectors and aspects of business. He was one of the youngest people to be appointed as a Fellow of the prestigious Institute of Sales and Marketing Management before he left the UK in 1988.

His column focuses on ways we can improve on success in our lives. Whether it is business, relationships, or health, Mark has a well-rounded perspective on how to stay focused for growth and development.

His influences come from the various travels he undertakes as an adventurer, philanthropist and keynote speaker. More information can be found on Mark at his website www.markjenningsbates.com

He is a Venture Partner with www.DutchOracle.com a global Alternative Investment company.

Mark Jennings-Bates:
[email protected]

Photo credit: www.SteveAustin.ca 

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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