Saturday, February 5, 2011

Of swollen ankles and lack of sleep

Another day, another aircraft.  Here I am on the tarmac of Santiago Chile.  No, this is not another stop on the program, it is a stop on our flight to Toronto.  Air Canada does not fly directly from Buenos Aires, so we had to fly first to Santiago.  Because the flight crew was changing, every passenger had to disembark…disabled folks included.  So, we were told to line up in a non-air-conditioned hallway to wait while they cleaned the plane.  I was last in a posse of 7 wheelchairs.  But I didn’t mind… it was warm and there was a spectacular sunset over the mountains that ring Santiago’s airport.  It reminded me that Chile is another country I want to visit…but Argentina keeps getting in the way!

Why is it that when I travel to Argentina, my ankles and feet swell up in a hideous way?  It never happens in Europe or Mexico.  I actually had to buy a new pair of shoes, since I had run out of options that did not pinch badly.  And buying is something you can do with great abandon and delight in Buenos Aires.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) our agenda was so action packed that it was difficult to carve out time to do anything else….but lord knows, I and my colleagues certainly tried!

My early impressions of this journey?  There are some themes starting to emerge…one is about passion.  The leaders who impressed me the most were those who were living their passion.  They were doing exactly what they wanted to do.  I don’t think they thought about things like work-life balance.  Their work and their life were one and the same.They had utter commitment to what they did. They radiated a sense of purpose and rightness in what they were doing.

Another thing I observed was that the good leaders were surrounded by talented people who supported their vision.  So many of them spoke of the necessity of being surrounded by good, talented people with the right values.  All stressed the importance of working as a team, and the power that comes when people start to work together.  I think back to one of the social enterprises we visited, and how it was not just an exercise in bringing natural gas to a was about helping neighbours work together to solve their own echo of what the mayor of Calgary spoke to us about....the magic of seeing other people not as clients, but as co-problem-solvers.

What else?  Beware of complacency!  It is too easy to slide into it.  If one is comfortable, and things are still relatively okay, one can tolerate a little discomfort, a little loss of freedom, of democracy.  I observed this most in Argentina, but also in the US.

Need to mull a bit more....the synthesis of what I've experienced is going to take some time.


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