a migraine, bookshelf chronicles and leadership integrity

The streets were nearly empty this morning. Its a strange weekend in Melbourne this one, ahead of the first Tuesday in November when the nation stops to watch a horse race. The familiarity of Red Symonds and Andrew Denton being smart with each other on the radio was comforting as I was gee-ing up for this Monday sandwiched between off-days.

But by the time I reached Roslin, Ergo’s house in the city, my vision was blurring … its been a while since I’ve been afflicted with a migraine. I grabbed a banana and some medication for breakfast and settled into a lounge chair in our little library, turned the light off and closed my eyes waiting for my head to regain some normality.

Once I could leave my eyes open comfortably I started scanning the bookshelf in front of me. I perched on every single book and remembered. Each title / author reminded me of a season in life long-gone. Life can be chronicled in many ways, by music, with photos, maybe clothes, even gadgets. The deepest for me is books, or more precisely authors because for me reading a book is a conversation with the writer. Paul Hiebert, Walter Brueggemann, Tom Wright, Eugene Peterson were prominent virtual soul mates from very formative days.

My virtual soul mates come from a different world today, but I am grateful for the wisdom and prophetic voice of these sages. They remind me of who I am, of the story of which I am a part, what is important and what matters.

Business leaders are charged with important public functions, but we execute those functions as people. We are not soul-less, history-less servants of profit. Things do not always go to (business) plan, in fact they frequently do not. Last week the financial crisis hit us at Ergo with some contracts being pulled. Not surprising, but sooner than we might have anticipated.

It will strike us all. In an informal conversation recently with the MD of a major Australian company, I was inspired to hear the resilience and positivity with which he spoke, even though recent legislation and the economic crisis will king hit their revenue. But he spoke with confidence, knowing he had nothing in the past to shrink from and that he had the personal fortitude to lead with integrity. Character.

The point? In the uncertain economic times we face, it will serve us well to remember who we are as people. What are the values we hold dear? What are the character anchors that will hold us steady when the circumstances knock us around and render our business goals from twelve months ago void.

It will continue to serve me well to remind myself of who I am, my journey to this point, so that I can frame these times as they are, another opportunity to learn by leading with integrity.