Volunteering at the 2010 Olympics

About a year ago my husband Gord and I applied to volunteer at the Vancouver Games in February. After a lengthy process that included several applications and telephone interviews, including an RCMP security check, we were formally accepted this past August. Gord is in Transportation and I am in Health Care – both at the False Creek Athletes’ Village in Vancouver, British Columbia.

One of the criteria for being accepted, and it’s a very important one, is that you can arrange your own accommodation, always in short supply during any Olympic Games. We’ll be housed at our eldest daughter and her husband’s home in Ladner about 20 minutes south of the Vancouver airport.

We’re excited! The countdown is now at D-14 days before we hop on a flight to Vancouver on February 5th. We have recently received our work schedules and job descriptions, Gord’s includes a list of gear he will be given in order to perform his duties – more on that later.

It will be a new adventure, as well as a sabbatical of sorts, since we’re putting our work lives largely on hold to do this – and moving mentally into a semi – retirement phase of our lives. I say semi- retirement because we don’t yet want to give up our work lives completely but we would like to carve out more time to create adventures such as this one for ourselves. Gord is already saying maybe we can fast track into a volunteer role at the London Summer Games in 2012 because of the experience we’ll be getting in Vancouver!

The run up to this time has been interesting to say the least – It started as a lark, an opportunity to begin to stretch ourselves beyond the 40 plus years of relatively ordinary work lives we’ve had until now, and to begin to think about moving into another phase of living.

So now here we are only days away from actually doing it.

Leadership at the Movies: Invictus and 5 Leadership Practices

Morgan Freeman and Clint Eastwood have created another very special movie now playing across North America. Invictus is the story of Nelson Mandela’s early days as President of South Africa, and particularly how he viewed the country’s Rugby team, the Springboks, and an upcoming World Cup event to be held in South Africa, as an opportunity to bring the country together.

The year is 1995. Mandela (Freeman) is in his first term as President. He recognizes the tremendous challenges facing his government in a land torn apart by apartheid. Racial tensions are at an all time high, people are struggling with the effects of crippling unemployment, and a new black government has shifted the balance of political power. Continue reading “Leadership at the Movies: Invictus and 5 Leadership Practices”

Courage and Tenacity: Qualities of Leaders

I was in Trafalgar Square in London England recently and made a point of finding Edith Clavell’s memorial in St Martin’s Place. Like all great leaders, no matter the arena, Edith Clavell had great courage and much tenacity.  During the first World War, she was a nurse who remained in Brussels, Belgium, after the Germans occupied the city early in the war, tending to wounded soldiers from all countries at the Red Cross Hospital.

In addition to this work, Clavell helped captured British, French and Belgian soldiers escape to the neutral Netherlands, where most would eventually make it across the channel to England.  Born on December 4, 1865 in Swardeston, England, she has been described as a “vivacious, tree-climbing girl who grew into the determined, severe woman we see in the statue.”  She has been further described as “headstrong and independent” and thus prevented from attracting “a man of money” and it is said that ” she was too proud to accept a lesser one”.   She never married, but devoted her life to nursing.

Here is an account of her work from the diary of a man she nursed back to health:

In 1915 Miss Clavell was directress of l’Ecole Belge d’ Infirmieres Diplomees, as well as a new hospital, St. Gilles, both training women for the profession of nursing.  As the great war engulfed Belgium Miss Clavell became part of an underground resistance network working in Brussels to help men escape.  She protected hospitalized men by keeping them longer than they needed.  When there were no beds available, Edith sheltered men in the hospital’s attic and cellar.  In this way, she helped approximately two hundred men escape the Germans.  On August 4, 1915, after months of observation, the Germans arrested Edith and others sheltering Belgian soldiers.  On October 7, 1915, Edith Clavell, along with others in the underground network were found guilty of resistance activities and sentenced to death by firing squad.  Despite American, French and Spanish intercession, Edith’s sentence was not commuted.  On October 12, 1915, Edith was executed by German firing squad.

Edith Clavell was 49 years old when she was shot to death.  “Her life and death make me think of the line from The Dead Poets Society when Robin Williams’ character, Mr Keatings says to his students:  “Make something of yourselves, boys.   Make you life count!

Leading in Complex Systems

Health care leaders have begun to adapt to the complexities, ambiguities and paradoxes that are now the norm in healthcare.

It is more and more apparent that the emerging field of complexity science offers important strategies for leading in chaotic, complex healthcare environments. A 2001 survey by Burns found that healthcare leaders intuitively support principles of complexity science and understand the value of complex adaptive systems as a model for leading and managing in healthcare environments.

Leadership that uses complexity principles offers opportunities to focus less on prediction and control and more on fostering relationships and creating conditions in which complex adaptive systems can evolve and produce creative outcomes.
Continue reading “Leading in Complex Systems”