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Posted by Philip Patston on 15 June 2010, 1:17 pm in , , ,

Dreaming of better MP stories

On Sunday afternoon while discussing with friends the week's political credit card revelations and other minor happenings, I said that anyone who volunteers for political office proves, by the act of volunteering, that they shouldn't be a politician.

That night I dreamt that I had been elected MP for Wellington. I saw myself on the streets of the capital city, being congratulated by people young and old. They assured me I would make a difference, change the world and watch lots of porn.

Actually I made up the bit about the porn, but the rest really happened – it was a perplexing dream.

I have said in the past – at an university orientation gig in fact – that if I ever stand for parliament, someone should congratulate me on getting to my feet. Then they should shoot me , which would be better than having my throat cut.

Why? Because wanting to be a politician means two things:

1. You have a big enough ego to think you should lead the country; and/or

2. You are naive enough to think you can significantly change anything using the political system.

Politicians fall into two camps in my book: egotistical megalomaniacs and benevolent innocents. Some of them I have known and liked, predominantly of the latter persuasion, but I don't think they should have been politicians. A few have now left politics – the others have switched camps, I fear.

Oh, there's another camp – just plain stupid – but we all know who runs that one with a Pay TV remote.

Don't ask me what the alternative is – I'm still working on it. But here are a few of my thoughts about a leadership system that I might put my hand up for:

1. It would be collaborative and not oppositional.

2. It would be driven from a local level, with representatives forming regional and national forums.

3. It would be focussed on relationships between people being the key drivers towards economic, environmental and social development.

4. It would understand and promote the notions of diversity, creativity and change as keys to an emergent, rather than established, society.

5. In its quest for excellence, it would be forever questioning itself and others as to its impact and relevance.

So, what do you think? Am I dreaming? Whether I am or not please, don't shoot me.

•     •     •     •     •

Meanwhile, closer to home:

Imagine this – you run two organisations, a small business and a charitable trust in the social and creative sectors. Your livelihood depends on it. You have the usual financial responsibilities, accountabilities, commitment to customer service and expectations to deliver on contracts as anyone.

The one difference is this: you rely on somebody else assisting you to get up each morning, helping you ablute, get dressed, prepare food and maintain the home office. You must recruit and manage a team of part-time people who are willing to arrive at 7am and do for you what many loathe having to do for themselves – cook, clean the toilet, put the rubbish out.

This is my reality. It's the aspect of my existence that most people don't know about me, until they become close to me. It's an extra layer to what I do that is unrealised and, therefore, unacknowledged.

And as I write about it now, I wouldn't want a string of accolades about it. That would be weird and I could easily drown in a sea of goodwill, nice as that could be. But, right now I need to make people aware of it, because three of four of my current team are leaving in the next three weeks to pursue travelling, training and other commitments. Not because I'm a bastard to work for – at least they haven't said that to my face.

It should be the easiest role to recruit for – who can't tie shoe laces, pour orange juice or clean a floor? In some ways it is. But it's also the most difficult because, let's face it, helping someone put their socks on sometime between 8:07 and 8:23 every morning isn't quite better work stories, whichever way you look at it.

Not to mention meeting your boss in his boxers every morning at 7am, unable to utter an intelligent word until his first coffee is consumed.

But for the lack of better work stories, the job does offer it's perks. I can be amusing and downright profound at times, so you may laugh or go away with an insight once and a while. I'm a good listener and trained counseller, so I'm happy to listen to any problems or issues you may have, as long as it's not too often.

Best of all, if I annoy you, you can always cut me shaving by mistake.