Thoughts and such like.....
I was invited to the Survivors dinner, Dragonboat Festival, the 11th, over $2 Million raised for diagnostic and operating equipment. I sat at the front and watched as women young and old greeted each other. Some came from down the road, others from flood ridden Calgary. Each of these men and women have a story, each a survivor of Breast Cancer. Some friends from last year weren't able to come, others will never return - they lost their fight. I sat and marvelled at the courage and felt privileged that I for a few hours became part of their fight. They laughed and teased each other, dressed to the nines for the dance competition later - the songs they chose ranging from Swan lake to Stronger inspired by this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BaQdwTsVtCY). And me, I was invited to say thank you and what I wanted to do was go away, hide and cry - why? These are incredibly strong women and men, who have battled and are winning their individual fight, why am I so emotional? Is it my ego, am I crying for myself and my fears? I acknowledge that some is fear but what else pushes that button that brings tears? Is it guilt that I have, to date, avoided this disease on my dance card? As I sat and watched these women and men, it occurred to me that I was avoiding the question? I skipped around it, testing, but I don't want to answer, I'm letting my fear take over. There is no big question today, no clever discussion - just a thought - when did you last look at the good in your life and give thanks and love to those around you?
I was driving to a workshop one morning a week ago, a drive of two hours and during the drive I listened to a number of discussions on CBC about the tragic suicide of Amanda Todd; bullied to death! Much of the discussion, actually all of the discussion, centred around schools, what could teachers and students do, how could parents help, what could school boards instigate - how do people police facebook/cyberspace.
While I found all the discussions really interesting, I began to feel that they were missing the point. The discussions were about control - things and people, mainly kids. However my thoughts turned to us as individuals taking the time to look inward and look at behaviour as adults. My mother used to use the expression "don't do what I do, do what I say", how often do we think about how our behaviour and what it says about us? When we are striving to reach our goals, are we conscious of how we seem to others, how we treat them? or rather how they feel we treat them? Do we notice the receptionist each morning as we pass, what do we actually know about him/her and their circumstances. Great leaders take time to know their people, if your team respects you, trusts you and know you are at their back, know they can come to you if they have a problem whether it be looking to you to help solve, or just understanding, they often will take calculated risks and will go out of their way to do the best job - but the work starts with you as a leader. As Adults it is our responsibility to demonstrate that starting with us, bullying will not be tolerated at any level of Society
To my mind, one of the most outstanding examples of bullying is in politics - yes, facebook has a long reach, but so also does TV and other mediums! Where is there a more perfect example of how bullying can work, how it destroys individuals and their reputations without repercussions. As we look at ourselves I think we also need to begin to demand that they look at their behaviour and ask themselves what responsibilities they have in demonstrating right and wrong! When they set up their advertisements about their opposition, what sort of message are they sending to children - bullies and those who are bullied. What would happen if they talked about issues not personalities?
Looking back, can you remember a time when you feel you were bullied? How did you react? How did you feel? With hindsight would you do anything differently? Now, look at your own habits, what can you change to demonstrate your commitment to taking responsibility in changing Society's acceptance of bullying all the time, not only when a tragedy such as Amanda's death occurs.
Today, finally an indication that the sun has not forgotten us on the West Coast. The sun shone in time for the Dragonboat Festival, a testament to Women and their families perseverance in times of fierce challenge and frightening times - breast cancer. Teams arrive today and tomorrow and begin their competition early Saturday, tomorrow we celebrate the opening ceremony of dotting the eye of the dragon, remember those who did not survive their battle, and toast those who continue to survive and thrive in this new life. The weekend honours lives lost and celebrates those who continue to survive and thrive, it moves us to recognize that as Steve Jobs said in his famous graduation speech 'no one has yet escaped death', so if you were told you had only a few days to live, what would you want to do?
As I look back over the years, particularly when my kids were small, there were times where I was so caught in the worries of the day, I forgot to enjoy the moment. Today, I have learned to 'unknot' my neck and shoulders, but first I need to recognize that I am falling into that trap, seizing up with the 'what ifs'. It is so much easier to fall into the net of worry, it allows us not to move forward, we don't have to make a decision. I often said to my kids so what? What is the worst thing that could happen? It was so easy to ask the question, not so to answer it myself - it continues to be a work in progress. What about you, can you recognize the cozy blanket of worry that allows you the excuse of not taking steps to move forward?
Maeve O'Byrne's Blog