This debate is part of a series called Big Ideas from Australia's ABC. It's very funny; makes some great points about leadership, diversity, complexity and change; and features my new, favourite person Helen Razer, co-author of A Short History of Stupid: The decline of reason and why public debate makes us want to scream, available on Kindle and hard copy. Enjoy! (Apologies for absence of sub-titles.)
Published 21 November 2014 | Source: ABC Big Ideas
Following on from my last post about rebranding, I’ve also changed how I describe myself or, more accurately, my experience. I talk about "my paradoxical experience as a queer, caucasian, cisgender man with unique function (disability).”
Even doing this is paradoxical, given I argued the point in 2012 at TEDxAuckland that we need to decay labels to reveal diversity. But I’m doing it to explain a phenomenon of power, privilege and paradox, rather than to label myself.
Power and privilege have long been part of the politics of diversity and discrimination. Recently I heard another diversity expert, Leslie Hawthorne, encourage those with privilege to raise awareness of it by, for example, not using the word “lame" to describe something that is bad or stupid, because you are implying that people who can’t walk are bad or stupid*.
Most Januaries I do a little bit of rebranding. I reflect on the previous year’s work, on the changes I’ve faced personally and professionally and on the kind of work I want to do over the next year.
It’s not a big, fancy process. Mostly it’s intuitive. Mine is not a big business — hell, it’s hardly even small! It’s me essentially — along with a small team and a few associates — offering my unique life and professional experience to help others in a variety of ways.
This year, I’ve made two changes to my brand. Firstly, I’ve de-emphasised diversity. It’s still in the mix, but it sits equally alongside other elements. Secondly, I’ve changed creativity to complexity. That’s not to say I’m not creative or that creativity is not complex; quite the opposite.
Just a quick reflection on the first days of the year, an affirmation of sorts. I notice I've taken on my reclusive role, usual for this time of year, not having left the house this year yet, other than to sit on the deck to read, drink, socialise, admire the beautiful nature-laden part of Auckland I am blessed to live in, and/or reflect.
It's been a stressless, easy ride into 2015. May it continue.
The only event of note was a slight over-indulgence of leadership juice on 1 January, ending with my falling on the floor. A few years ago I had upper and lower back injuries, leaving me without power in my upper arms/shoulders and no longer able to walk. Unable to lift myself from the floor anymore, particularly after a wine or two, I invested in a Bupa medical alarm half way through last year — it seemed less strenuous than weight training, at which I failed miserably to endure.
So, in the past couple of weeks, my unravelling has stopped. I've successfully returned to my usual muscle relaxant medication, so my anxiety has ceased and my co-ordination is back. I'm ten days into a four week holiday and I feel relaxed and unstressed. The archangels have been and gone, working a little magic.
The weather has been beautiful and I've spent many hours sitting on my deck, reading, drinking, eating and laughing with friends. I've even written a few more paragraphs of a book I started writing this time last year.
A colleague put it well yesterday at an end-of-year lunch when she said, "Everything rarks up and slows down at the same time."
The slow-down of the duty to work; the rark-up of the duty to socially interact with friends, families, partners' families because of — don't make me say the C-word. The relaxation of one cancelled out by the cacophony of the other.
Remember the 1970s? Hippies, free love, communes, punks, safety pins, Saturday-Night Fever, John Travolta, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, long hair, muslin shirts?
Remember the 80s? Androgyny everywhere — Boy George, high hair dyed every colour, guys with eyeliner, Annie Lennox with orange hair, Cyndi Lauper with her chequerboard shave?
Remember the 90s? The internet boom, the Human Rights Act condemning discrimination on the grounds of disability and sexual orientation, poor fashion choices, outstanding hip hop and alt rock music?
It's been so long since I last posted. I have almost forgotten how to do it. I just read a post I wrote five months ago, almost to the day. I can't quite remember the person who wrote it.
The last five months have been incredibly difficult. I took a part-time job, realised I was probably drinking a bit much and changed my muscle relaxants to a different sort, having read a book that said they were also good for addiction.
Nothing worked out particularly well.
Unfortunately I was unable unable to attend tonight's 25th reunion of RainbowYOUTH, "a charitable organisation providing support, information, advocacy and education for queer and trans* young people (aged between 13 and 28), their friends and Whānau, and those who work with queer and trans* youth."
Having had the honour of being their patron for the last few years I asked for a few words to be read on my behalf.
Kia ora koutou. Happy 25th birthday RainbowYOUTH. My apologies for not being able to be here in person to address you this evening.