Archive for August, 2010

This had to be one of the most epic campsites we ever concocted!

Day 41 – 9/2/1999 – was a ride from Border Village to the ‘cliff’s’.

camping at the 'cliffs'

camping at the 'cliffs'

The ride was meant to take us to Nullarbor roadhouse. 50km before we got there we ended up at this spot and decided we simply had to set up camp. This is my journal entry for that day.

‘This is awesome! I am sitting watching the sunset, the sun making the clouds go red… 10 meters in front of me is the Great Australian Bite. 90 meters sheer cliff face dropping into a wild blue ocean.  This is an amazing sight! We are on our way to Nullarbor roadhouse and after having left Eucla the cliffs began to form so we decided to to set up camp. I have just had an amazing cup of Rooibos tea and the noodles are on the boil.  Gods presence is most certainly felt and this is one of His most awesome creations! South Australia is pretty and the trees seem to be disappearing as we hit the nullarbor, but we are on top of this trip!’

Here are some other campsite pics from the trip.

European camping style

European camping style

This particular one is in Europe.  It was a warm summer in ’99 so we were able to sleep without the tent most nights. The 3rd bike and sleeping bag belongs to Matt – a wacky Kiwi chap who met us on the ferry heading over to Amsterdam and decided to follow us all the way down to Rome. It was great to break all this time Steve and I were spending together with a 3rd person to talk to on the road! Think this is somewhere in Germany…

south african camping

south african camping

Then there was this one in South Africa. I think it was at 3 sister en route down to Cape Town on the N1. I see we decided to do some washing… 10 days into the trip!

Scotties camping

Scotties camping

Scotland Camping. This was up at john O’ Groats. Anyone noticed the size of the tent yet? eish… but you got to do what you got to do in order to carry less weight!  The weather was smashing up there.

USA Uni camping

USA Uni camping

Then there was the odd time a US campus would meet our camping needs with a little indoor luxury! Bliss… pure bliss!

egypt chillin

egypt chillin

Lastly… the only way to do it in Egypt! This was in Nuweiba… we didn’t actually camp here, we got a shack sorted with these little gems hanging outside… which is basically where we stayed!

Its all about the bike…

Posted: August 25, 2010 in cycle tour '99

This image was taken the day before we left.

day before we left

day before we left

The bike is a Giant ATX860, thanks to Dave Wiseman cycles.  Great bike. No nonsense, pretty simple, front shocks and decent components. We chose panniers over the back tires and chose not to have anything over the handle bars. We did carry small backpacks as well.  Inside the bags we carried:

  • tents (Steve took the tent)
  • pots and pans (I took the pots)
  • sleeping bags
  • reading / writing material
  • rain jacket
  • fleece
  • waterproof pants
  • fuel canister for cooking system
  • water purifier
  • spare parts – spokes, tubes, various tools
  • couple t-shirts, pair of baggies, extra cycling shorts
  • rolled up ground mattress on the back
  • extra water bottles
  • small camping chairs
  • hiking shoes
  • slops
  • South African flag
  • portable CD player
  • digital camera
  • film camera

That’s it as far as I can remember!  We also attached those ‘lean forward’ bars as I like to call them for comfort. Having the elbow rests higher up to hold onto was a bonus. We got frightened into acquiring some orthopedic seats. Man alive hey were uncomfortable… but probably made sense.

This next shot is taken in Dahab, Egypt.

bicycle in Dahab, Egypt

bicycle in Dahab, Egypt

This was half way through the tour. The bicycle had some additions:

  • drawing pins to keep the bags together due to broken zips
  • tape to keep the flag in tact due to speed of cycling!!
  • some serious dust

Still got the bike:)

Feel ‘it’. It is here.

Posted: August 25, 2010 in articles

Right now where’s your head space?

Past. Present. Future?

past, future, present

Past. Present. Future

Reading the most common quotes leaves you with an overwhelming sense of encouragement to live in the present. In the now. In leadership I have come to realise that this balance of engaging with all 3 of those arena’s is a delicate one. Residing in just one is both impossible and ineffective. So where should our head space be? When do we give time to history? When do we look ahead to where we are going? When do we engage with the present?

The complexity of this dynamic can be tricky. The beauty, however, is that it gives us the best opportunity to truly lead. Because its actually all about context. Isn’t it? When we spend time in anyone of these 3 zones and at the same time completely ignore the other 2 we enter a danger zone. For example, if your vision yields the history irrelevant I think you’ve missed it.

You have a vision for what you lead. What you lead has history. What you lead has factors influencing it right now. Plus there’s vision. Enter the tension.  Some of it rubs you up the wrong way. Some of it you love. BUT the fact is ‘it’ is bigger than ‘you’. Leading authentically is about engaging with ‘it’ first, then influencing that context with who ‘you’ are.

‘It’ needs you. ‘You’ serve it.

So where does this leave us? The writings about the present refer to the natural tendency for leaders to worry about the future or dwell in past failures. That does not serve us or our teams.  What we need is a different set of questions.

about the past…
what has added value up until now that we would like to continually develop and leverage off?
what has been ineffective or potentially damaging that we would like to shift away from?

(basically what do we need more of and what do we need less of?!)

lets jump to the future…
What could the future look like if what has been working well continues to grow?
How does who I am & what I bring influence (serve) and enhance (add) to this?

(basically if this thing grows and my strengths / dreams influence it as well where will we end up?!)

then, back to the present…
What do I need to be intentional about today?
What distractions do I need to avoid?

(basically how can I best make a difference with the time I have today?!)

‘You’ need to avoid becoming ‘it’ and ‘it’ cannot become ‘you’. If you lead, it means you are not alone. Communicate and ask these questions together. Listen. Learn. Feel it more than you think it. Because if you feel it, you are where you most need to be…

Present.

I found Steve in the campsite after I got off the bus back at Balledonia. By campsite I mean a plot of gravel with some tree’s. He was pretty amped to get out of Balledonia. I felt bad I had got to see some new scenery whilst he had been sitting around doing nothing. We got the tire on and packed things up ready to leave early in the morning.

I was apprehensive as we kicked off as I feared the same thing would happen. Luckily we cycled straight past the spot where we had broken down without a hitch. Then 38km into the ride we cam across this sign.

146.6km dead straight road in Oz

146.6km dead straight road in Oz

I was devastated.  The headwind was starting to push and we knew we had to make it all the way to Caiguna to catch up on lost time. This just mean the cycle would be even more uneventful that some of the previous days had been. It’s weird to cycle a road that just does not turn, to hold onto the handle bar and not move it left or right. ever. we just carried on and on and on. You could see trucks in the distance mo minutes before they actually reached you. I just kept focused on the the blue signs (Australia marks every 5km with a blue sign… I used to love and hate those signs!). Given the headwind our progress was slow. We used to enjoy a 20kmph avg but on this particular day we averaged out at 16.7kmph. That plus stops meant that our total riding time ended up being 12hrs, 49,31 seconds. On day 32, from Norseman to Balledonia our ride had taken 12hrs, 49,08 seconds, covering a distance of 191.36km with an average speed of 17.7. whatever the stats, it just meant that we covered the distance from Norseman to Balldonia in 2 days doing a total of 371,91km. The second ride was the tougher, mainly because of the long straight. That and the can of ‘condensed milk.’

Steve had bought a can of condensed milk for us to share when the going got tough.  We knew we had to push and with no stops in between these two towns any sugar we could in would help. As we got nearer to finishing up the ride, the sun started to dip out the sky. We still had 30km left so thought that this would be the best time to crack open the can of condensed frikken energy booster. We pulled over and walked over to a rock, can in hand. Steve took out his pen knife and as he began to open it he put his head in his hands and started to groan! Wondering what was up I looked at the can and saw that it in fact was not condensed milk but a can of chick peas. Which I detest. Crap. We walked back to our bikes in silence. Its hard to explain how a small can has the ability to send you into the pits of despair… deep down in negativity and demotivation plundering any positive thoughts you had. That can was our one hope which we had held out on. We had waited for hours displaying tremendous amounts of self control. This was the opportune moment, right there on that rock with the sun setting. And it all folded before us.

The last 30km were hell. We pushed hard but had to get off the road every time we saw lights coming up behind us. Australia’s trucks drove in what they call ‘road trains’ aptly named because of how many trucks are driving in close proximity to each other to save on fuel. At night this is no joke. They can’t see you and probably won’t notice you when they turn you to pulp. Now only one thing motivated us. An extra large coka cola and a double beef burger with chips. The imagery kept us going, the anticipation of biting into that first mouthful.

Which is exactly what we did when we got there.

Burger in Caiguna

Burger in Caiguna

What was a crazy period of the tour had come to an end. Crazy and beautiful all at the same time. In many ways these events were what I really enjoyed… making a plan, adapting to situations and keeping positive about getting around hurdles. Steve and I had encountered a challenge which we had managed to overcome, even thought it meant going backwards in order to go forwards. In many ways it happened at the right place. If we had been any further it might have been a different story. You are just simply at the mercy of your equipment and this was a learning curve for us. It largely had to do with an overloaded bike on my part, so I stripped down some of my gear and shipped it to Sydney to lighten the load. 5 days. 2 long rides, 1 shorter one, a few nights in the same campsite, a friendly bike shop to fix a problem, a couple of helpful rides, some interesting people…. and quite honestly a painful backside from that saddle time.

Funny I would probably do it again!

It was the 2nd February 1999.

We left Balledonia to head to Caiguna. The day before, day 32 of the tour, had been long. Very long. We did 191km in about 14hours leaving the town of Norseman at 06h30 and arriving at 9pm. Given we were cycling between road houses with absolutely nothing in between we simply put our heads down and pushed forward.

great sign to check when cycling!

great sign to check when cycling!

Hence we decided to take this ride a little easier and set up camp 90km in along the side of the road. But that never happened…

30km in a heard the first ‘ping!’. a spoke had gone. Then another and another. 5 spokes down I stopped riding and pulled over. Steve and I had left equipped with tools to fix these sorts of things but this job just wasn’t going according to plan and soon I was standing on the side of the road with my thumb pointed skyward. We thought someone might be able to give us a hand in Balledonia. After all we had 3 people to choose from. Low and behold my ride appeared and in it – two Saffa’s! I left Steve on the side of the road and headed back with my wheel. Unfortunately the first thing these two positive O’s said was “South Africa… You can keep the joint. It has no future.” The mess continued. I needed a particular part as a piece of my rim had torn. It had to be trucked in from Esperence. I hitched back to Steve, this time riding with a more positive chap in a Land Rover who stopped at his mothers farm on the way. She had the most magnificent painting which she had done hanging on the walls. Steve and I then hitched back to Balledonia arriving to a small crew who were also staying over, joining them for a drink given we had a day wait for the part. A 92 year old man challenged me to a game of pool. I lost and went to bed.

On the morning of the 3rd we were already starting to get bored. We couldn’t wait for the part to arrive. When it did we still had no luck fixing the wheel. The wheel was terribly buckled and we weren’t going to get anywhere. My next ride would be on a greyhound. A few towns back we had passed Kalgoorlie, a larger town which we knew had a bicycle shop. I hopped on the bus in the early hours of the morning and headed through. On the bus I sat next to a Dutch couple who we would later stay with when cycling Europe. We laughed together as the wacky bus driver told us stories of UFO’s sightings!  I was enjoying the Ozzies. Despite what seemed like a secluded lifestyle out in the outback, they were good people who seemed to have plenty to share. Everyday caravans and motor homes would pass us, retired couples heading around the vast expanse that is Australia, cruising for years and years as they explore. I started to love the life of exploration, getting on the bike each day and heading out into the unknown not sure of what I would find or who I would meet. Every day was turning into an adventure. I never imagined I would be sitting on a greyhound talking to a lekker dutch couple and wacky Ozzie bus driver on the 3rd Feb!  But that’s the reality of travel. Its the reality of putting yourself out there and living differently. Those moments are hard to explain but I was loving it.

The bus rolled into Kalgoorlie. I hopped out and walked along the streets to the bicycle shop, dropped of the tire and explored a town with a rich gold digging history. Fascinating place. That afternoon the tire was ready which gave me enough time to get back to the bus stop and head back to Steve, who I am sure by now was getting very very frustrated parking in a tent listening to the irritating squawk of the crows…. I chuckled at the thought of it!

flashes of insight

Posted: August 20, 2010 in articles

I am continually amazed at how we receive ‘flashes of insight‘ in our daily lives.

Comments that people say, statements that we read. I mean in many ways everything can seem rather random and yet these moments seem to be leading us. I have been reading a proverb a day – given there are 31 chapters. Each day something jumps out at me. Today the proverb was ‘The Lord directs our steps, so why try understand everything along the way?‘. I thought that was awesome. Probably cause I am a self inflicted victim of the need to continually understand how everything fits together. Thinking deeper into it, the reason why I do that is probably so that I can re-assure myself that I am heading in the right direction or that I am in control of my destiny. It doesn’t work like that.  The beauty about that proverb is that there is always direction. So don’t worry that there isn’t. Don’t try to understand how it is all going to work out. Just surrender to the fact that maybe the plan is bigger than your limited comprehension. period. That was flash of insight # 1.

This past week I worked with a team who wanted to ‘connect’. So we did just that. We wrote a song together. That was the aim. Myself and a colleague from Appletree worked alongside Durban musicians Roly Struckmeyer and Gareth Gale and the corporate team. It was fun. It felt like play. It was informal. It was chilled. It was different. It was also risky! But it worked! The biggest take out was that when we ‘play’ rather than get all serious we actually get more done and end up being far more connected. Flash of insight #2

I realised I can be very serious in how I do life and work. I am keen to play more from now on.

Today in a coaching session the chap I was working with mentioned a sentence he had heard in a presentation yesterday. Routine dulls the senses. Flash of Insight #3. How much of my life has become routine? What senses am I dulling?!

Again I come back to the fact that we all look for answers but few of us ask great questions. Maybe if we can detach from trying to understand everything and let go… we would create space to listen everyday and learn and feel again. John Ortberg once said “We must ruthlessly eradicate hurry from our lives’.

So as the weekend starts I once again slow down and appreciate what I have learned this week by being open to learning in the first place and less hurried in my approach to life.

PS: great book on the concept of ‘flashes of insight’ – click here for details.

Intent??

Posted: August 18, 2010 in articles

Yesterday I did some coaching in assertiveness. One of the first models we work with is the basics of our communication. We know that our communication is made up of what we say and how we say it. In terms of the effectiveness of our communication the how makes up 93%. That makes sense. But then there is the 3rd level – the why – that counts for a gazillion %! The why in a nutshell is out INTENT.

Those in the session remarked on how much of their training had been on the ‘how to’ communicate – you know… The mirroring, open body language stuff. But INTENT seemed to challenge them. I guess because in all of their relationship scenarios they began to ask themselves honestly what was their INTENT.

I hear on the radio this morning that a young lady was at the receiving end of a con. An interviewer went the ‘extra mile’ to help the candidate get her drivers, of course for a fee of R2500. Having paid the fee to get things rolling, the woman dissapeared! No matter what she said and how she said it her intent was always to con this young lady.
Intent is the unseen element of communication. It is something we feel. Its not tangible. The seen elements of communication try to mask it, but it’s powerful.

I wonder if that young lady ever felt like something was off?

In my sessions, a common remark was that despite having communicated well the situation was still in negative space. That made sense once we unpacked that the intent, despite great comm’s, was off.

I rekon I am going to look out for this over the next few days, become more aware of my intent and communicate with others according to what I feel their intent to be… See what happens and uncover more about what this powerful little word – INTENT – means.

Maybe things will become a little more authentic?