Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Care Enough to Just Watch

Today's entry is coming to you thanks to Innovative Health Group Massage Therapist Kathryn Keller. Kathryn is a leader in her own right because she leads herself at a high level. In that regard, the discussions are many that could end up on this platform but here is but one...

Seeing a caterpillar struggle to create a cocoon that he would eventually surround himself in, a young boy decides to save the caterpillar and set it free. He takes it home and the caterpillar is free of struggle. Soon after, unable to enter the larval stage of it's development, the caterpillar dies, never to become a beautiful butterfly.

This little story is analogous to parenting, coaching, leadership, and love.
Sometimes our intentions lead to actions that lead to outcomes that don't match our intentions.
Sometimes we love someone so much that in the moment acting out of love we paralyze or even kill (socially, spiritually, etc) the very person or thing we are trying to help.

Coddling (in my opinion) happens for 3 reasons; either
A) love is blind and the parent/ teacher/ coach/ leader/ etc is unable or unwilling to see the big picture disconnect between their actions and the eventual outcome, or
B) idiocy - thinking the rules don't apply to them or their kids because of social class or something else that they feel separates them from the herd, or
C) caving to be popular with the kids vs being right and willing to be unpopular to set them on the right path in life.

In any event, growth is achieved out of adversity and the struggle leads to success. If you had to go through it (and it made you better) why would you remove adversity as a teaching mechanism from your kids, students, peers, or employees?

Great leaders facilitate, not 'fix'...
Great parents will go through struggle with you, not for you...
Great teachers prepare you, not just pass you.

True love and true leadership requires the discipline to just watch when your heart is breaking to go help someone struggling.

Life is going to teach the tough lessons at some point anyways, so our job as parents, teachers, and coaches is to prepare people to be successful when that time comes rather than let the hard facts hit them when it's already too late.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Annual Critical Mass Post

I have one question for people on Critical Mass: what, exactly, are you protesting? What is your end goal with this movement? Because I've heard absolutely nothing consistent from any of the people involved with it, either on their website (a "reclamation of public space"), in the media ("protesting the use of environmentally damaging vehicles") or even directly from your mouths (when I tried to point out your idiocy... as I rode my bike in the other direction to make sure that I wasn't seen as part of your nonsense).

Firstly, what public space are you talking about, and who took it from you? As far as I know, all of the places that you're jamming up traffic on were never actually yours to begin with - they're roads. For vehicles. Built for vehicles. Now, if someone had taken a bike lane, and turned it into a road - great. Makes sense for you to get out and protest this. But in fact, in Vancouver, it's the other end of the spectrum - roads are being turned into bike lanes. Maybe what I should do is protest my loss of road space on the last Friday of every month, and just pull my car into the Burrad bike line - drive back and forth over it, and try to slow down your ridiculous protest as my own show of dissent.

Now, if you're complaining about the use of cars, then your logic becomes even more flawed. In order to protest the use of vehicles whose emissions damage the environment, you create a traffic jam so bad that all of these same vehicles sit there and idle, spewing even more toxins into the environment... I just don't get it. That's like the protestors of the Iraqi war shooting the civilians of Iraq once a month to voice their dissent with the conflict - the protest, in that moment, is actually worse than the situation itself.

I've said it before, I'll say it again. I don't care what you represent, you do not draw people to your side in a conflict by pissing people off. Take this case - I actually support increasing the available bike riding lanes, and encouraging people to get out of their cars - for many reasons. Furthermore, I ride my bike with a far degree of regularity. But every time I wind up sitting in my car while a bunch of bikes prevent me from getting where I need to go - I get further and further away from ever supporting or defending them for their actions.

If I had any idea what I was supporting or defending in the first place, mind you.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Do You Care?

In the end, the customer doesn't know, or care, if you are small or large as an organisation... she or he only focuses on the garment hanging on the rail in the store.

~ Giorgio Armani

Recently, I placed an order for a top from a company online. Let me be the first to say, I enjoy their clothing and have always thought that it's comfortable, as well as fashionable athletic wear. Needless to say, I was extremely disappointed and frustrated by my overall experience.

I received the garment with a manufacturer's defect. Not a problem, I telephoned the Guest Education Centre which is the equivalent to Customer Service and explained how I had received the item. They proceeded to inform me that they no longer had any of the tops available in my size or color at their warehouse and that my best option would be to head to the only other location with one in stock, sooner rather than later, as it may not be available otherwise. I explained that I would not be able to rush down as I worked and was at least 2 hours away and asked if there was anything else they could suggest. They went on to inform me that short of asking someone to make me the shirt, that was all.

I got off the phone feeling very angry and frustrated. I understand, if they no longer have the shirt that I ordered in stock, but what I don't understand is why there was not a greater effort on their part in terms of customer service. I wasn't trying to be difficult, I just wanted to know what was going to be done and my issue was never about the product per say, it was that no one cared about my experience.

My experience with the company was never rectified but I did learn a valuable lesson. I don't care how large your organisation gets, it is still dependant upon individual consumers, and, if you don't care about your consumers, they won't care about your product, bottom line.

~ Sasha

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


"An object in motion tends to stay in motion"

"an object at rest tends to stay at rest".

The hardest thing about inertia is moving from one state to the other.
For a type A athlete to consider meditating or going to a beach to read a book (vs kayaking, swimming, running, snorkeling, etc) or for a couch potato to consider sight-seeing from a physical activity standpoint... requires a consideration of another way of doing things, and to get outside one's comfort zone.

Obviously, from a health perspective, it's a lot better to be in motion, and that is the challenge we have in today's society is literally and figuratively swimming upstream.

From an employment standpoint however, we often (especially with the millennial generation) face the exact opposite problem... trying to have a transitory working group see the benefits of reaping their rewards over time.

The days of working 40 years for the same employer are all but gone unfortunately. As an advocate of self development, I in no way advocate staying put if you are in the 'wrong' job. The issue, it seems, is that departure is often the first option.

Honeymoon phase is over - I quit.
I can make $2 more an hour right now - I quit.
I want to travel while I'm still young - I quit.
I want to work to live, not live to work - I quit.
I can make more money doing the same thing if I start my own business - I quit.

I've heard it all and unfortunately for so many people who have uttered those words in the past (if they didn't have a plan attached to them or were not following their higher purpose)... inertia for an electron and inertia for a young buck's career do not follow the same principals.

One day, without staying power and the fundamentals derived through hard work and struggle, the amount of opportunities available to Joe or Jane fresh grad - will dry up.

If you aren't supported, challenged, educated, coached, respected, valued, empowered, rewarded & compensated for an effort that is at or above what your employer expects and you can provide - you should quit.

But IF those parameters exist and an aspiring young person makes a series of snap decisions all geared to instant gratification and higher short term returns... said young buck will find themselves in the highly unenviable position of having their inertia slowed for them.

Those who show staying power and upward mobility place themselves in a position at many (if not every) points along their career path that they can stay or go. They have career options and bargaining power of the highest calibre because they've proven they can produce results, not just that they may have potential. these people actually accelerate their own inertia by fuelling opportunity rather than closing a ton of doors.

Those who swing from career branch to branch without demonstrating their skill over time eventually close too many doors and can no longer convince a prospective employer to take a chance on them, as their resume proves that chance will not be reciprocated; at the next possible opportunity the employee has shown they'll jump ship.

Well eventually we're all trying to drive our own ship to the tropical island of our dreams... each person's dream is different so while it's okay to try a few different options early in your career, eventually all the boats have sailed and your life becomes much tougher to get to that promised island. After burning too many bridges, not only do you have to know how to drive the boat; eventually you'd have to build it too.

There is a lot to be said for staying the course after you've tried your hands at a few places early to know what feels right for you. Make sure you control your inertia and your short term decisions don't permanently affect your long term opportunities for growth.

Monday, June 21, 2010

To Dad:

Thank you.

For taking yourself (literally) from a longhouse in the jungle to practicing eye surgery - and teaching me about commitment.

For getting up at 4:30am to have me at hockey practice by 5:00am - teaching me about dedication.

For not throwing out my comic collection that time I didn't put it away - teaching me forgiveness.

For only losing your temper about once per year - teaching me self-control.

For taking the car away when I came home late without calling - teaching me accountability.

For standing up to the government when you felt you were being wronged, but doing so in a way that had you meeting face-to-face with the Minister of Health - and teaching me diplomacy.

For standing behind me when I was a theater student, and letting me know that no matter what I chose to do you would support me - and teaching me about absolute encouragement.

For everything above, for everything that I've forgotten, for all of the things which are too numerous to mention.

And thank you, for being (along with Mom) everything that a son/daughter could hope for, wish for, or receive in a parent.

Happy Father's Day.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Learn to Grow

"Iron rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigor's of the mind"

~ Leonardo Da Vinci

In any industry, in any company, in any role, it is important to keep learning - you need to learn to grow. This past weekend I had the opportunity to take part in a course which was both educational and informative, and as always, I was excited by the possibilities of what was presented.

What doesn't excite me, is when the material is presented as a religion. Thankfully, that wasn't the case last weekend but it started me thinking about all of the courses that I have taken that have tried to convert me. What is being presented is another tool in the toolbox - just as you wouldn't use a hammer without a nail you wouldn't subscribe to one product, or only way of doing or teaching something. That's not progressive, that's stagnating and that defeats the purpose of learning.

Learning means building upon what you already know, not replacing one idea for another. In the word of Craig Charles, 'It's evolve or die, really, you have to evolve, you have to move on otherwise it just becomes stagnant.'

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Answering "Why"

Having just returned from hiking the West Coast Trail in 2 and a half days and kayaking the Broken Group Islands immediately following, I get asked "why" when people see I am limping. Yes, I tweaked my knee and yes, athletes get injured - it's part of the risk associated with the lifestyle. I am currently sporting a limp that will require physio, new scars, a few irritating cuts in places you rub up against countless times daily, and I've been away from my family and close friends for 5 days. I got to bed after a much needed shower at midnight and up for work at 4:45, the 5th poor sleep in as many days. And I paid good money to do this.

So many people pose the above question to which there is no answer I can give. Because it is not to them I must answer. People will always doubt. I can answer "WHY" to my own satisfaction and that is the point.

I look at the lack of sleep as a sign of how much life you can really cram into 5 days...
I look at the bumps, bruises, cuts, and even injuries as barriers to entry that keep people who ask "why" and don't get it from ever entering such understanding...
I look at time away from email, to-do lists, and everything else as an opportunity to check back in and ensure my priorities are in order...
I look at missing my family as a good thing because even in the pursuit of lifetime goals the celebration of such achievements is fuller with them - hence the balance between personal identity and identity within a collective family unit...
I look at the adversity in the moment as already fading but the lessons and character that came out of adversity as a more permanent outcome...
I look at suffering to do things that aren't easy but have in them some profound reward; even if only in the eye of the beholder; as a part of being truly alive and being on a journey to see, do, and become more than would happen in a default mindset.

I have many powerful "Why"'s that drive me and help make me who I am - and even if I am not 100% certain of the outcome, but I trust those I'm with - "Why Not?" is just as good a question as "Why?" in the first place. The great thing about perspective and attitude is even a glass that's only half full can still lead to a very full soul; where a half empty glass leads to a very empty existence instead.

Hard work, and the perspective to see the worth in that work is truly the difference and brings a lot more meaning to life.

Monday, June 14, 2010


Someone in this province is actually listening to the people.

I've said it before, I'll say it again - I'm not actually against the HST. I'm not for it, either, for that matter.

Nope. I'm pissed off because a) they brought it in the back door, b) they ignored public outcry when they did so, and c) now, when we (the people of British Columbia) have actually gathered enough signatures to at least demand a referendum, Premier Campbell is saying "Too bad, it's good for the province so we're doing it anyway". Essentially, stepping away from representing the people who voted him into office, and taking on the role of "benevolent" dictator. Forgetting that he works for us. Whether we're right or wrong, as our representatives, the people we voted for should be doing what we say.

And finally, one of them is.

On Friday, Blair Lekstrom stepped down from his cabinet seat over the HST. Apparently, nobody saw it coming - but he did it anyway. He has been quoted as saying that while he does believe in the HST, he doesn't think it was brought in properly... and, ultimately, his constituents (those who voted him in, and whom he works for) have made it clear that they don't want it. So he's tried a couple of times to say "Wait. Maybe we should, at the very least, take the time to put this in properly" only to be shut down. So he did the only thing left - since he either does as he's told or leave the cabinet, he chose the latter.

I thank you, Mr. Lekstrom. I know nothing about your stances on anything else, your history or true motives for doing this (and may actually vehemently disagree with you on all of these things) - but in this one case, thank you.

Thank you for rocking the boat. Thank you for doing what others should be (and hopefully will follow, now that someone was brave enough to take the lead). Thank you for showing me that somewhere in this world, there are people who don't forget how or why they got into position they're in.

Thank you for showing how democracy is supposed to work.


Thursday, June 10, 2010


Every day the fat woman dies a series of small deaths.

~ Shelley Bovery

Donna Simpson wears a size 7XL, her waist measures 85 inches, she needs a motor scooter to get around and can barely walk 20 feet before becoming too fatigued to continue. She is a 42 year old mother of two children, ages 3 and 14, from New Jersey, who's goal is to go from 600 pounds to 1,000 pounds in two years.

She has said she wants to be the world's fattest woman. She already holds the Guiness World Record as the World's Fattest Mother, and needed 30 people to assist in the delivery of her daughter. At one time, she was quoted as saying, 'I'd love to be 1,000 pounds. It might be hard though. Running after my daughter keeps my weight down.'

While adding an extra 400 pounds is a feat in and of itself - she will try to eat 12,000 calories a day, it does not come cheap. But don't fret, Simpson models on a website where admirers and the curious can pay to watch videos of her eating greasy foods or walking to her car.

She spends as much as $750 on groceries, suffers from Type 2 diabetes and struggles with basic tasks such as cooking and taking a shower. She dismisses critics who warn that her weight can lead to heart problems, aggravate her diabetes and cause pressure to her joints. She has confessed that she is as hungry for attention, as she is for calorie laden food.

Clearly, there are many things wrong with this story, however, what bothers me the most is the waste of life. Whatever her reasons, or motivations she is throwing it away - while others fight to live, she is willingly walking into her grave. In the words of Robert Cody, "Have the courage to live. Anyone can die."

~ Sasha

Monday, June 07, 2010

Where Does it End?

Every time I think that society's deliberate avoidance of personal responsibility and ownership has hit an all-time low... I'm proven wrong.

Get this - now a woman is suing the man who was her designated driver because he didn't stop her from jumping out of a moving car after an argument with her boyfriend.

That's right. It's not her fault for getting drunk in the first place, for having the argument, for lifting the handle or for jumping out (and subsequently getting seriously injured). Nope. It's the driver's fault for not possessing the power to see into the future and thereby stop her from any or all of the above.

Now, as bad as this lawsuit is... it just gets worse. Because if this jackass wins her lawsuit (at which point the courts should spontaneously implode with idiocy) then basically, your behaviour becomes the responsibility of the designated driver... the one person who volunteered to be responsible. This alone might make people reticent enough to NOT volunteer... which means many of the same jackasses (like the aforementioned woman) will simply start driving drunk again. And, when they kill someone - likely they'll sue the other driver for not being better at getting out of their way.

It has to stop. At some point, we, as a society, have to stop pointing fingers at others. Sometimes it's not fair... but hey, that's life.

Or, at least... it used to be.


Friday, June 04, 2010

What's your legacy?

What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.

~ Pericles

What does leaving a legacy mean to you?

In light of recent events, I have started pondering the answer to this question. I would never be so bold as to suggest that I have left my legacy at the tender age of 28, as I believe it takes a lifetime to create, but what I am starting to question is how I want to be remembered.

A legacy, is evidence that your life mattered and that you made a difference in the world and in the lives of others. Building a legacy worth leaving behind begins each day and is made one decision at a time. It's how you treat those around you, your attitude day in and out, your work ethic and pushing to make each day better than the last.

It's the days your tired, staying late. Being cranky, but not taking it out on others. Spending time with someone, when you'd rather be alone. Taking the time to get to know those around you, rather than just saying 'hello'.

A legacy reflects who you are as a person and what your life was about. The question is not whether you'll leave a legacy but what legacy you'll leave. In the words of Dolly Parton, 'If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, than, you are an excellent leader.'

How do you want to be remembered?

~ Sasha