I’ve just spent the past hour or so in a pub / restaurant, The Honest Lawyer, in Nelson on the south island of New Zealand. The wind is brisk, howling past the window and through the trees. A cozy fire burns next to me.
I’ve learned and loved much on this trip. Though only four days since arriving in Wellington, much has happened that I feel very grateful for. Learning. Experience. Feeling the energy of this place. An immediate meeting with Glen Lauder my colleague and good friend. A short flight to Picton and a drive down the coast to Kaikoura, where the sun was shining and the views of the Pacific and the Seaward Kaikoura Mountains was spectacular. I love the experience of staying at an Inn. Homey. Friendly. Welcoming. The Pier was our first overnight stop. From Kaikoura, the next day we found our way across Lewis Pass to Maruia Springs for a good soak in the hot pools. From there to the west coast through Greymouth and down to Hokitika – very wet and very rain-filled. Back up for a night in Murchison and then to Nelson. I am filled with a newness and rush of feelings that only come from first time adventures.
This last stop in Nelson has been delightful. It has included a visit with Glen’s father, Alistair. Alistair is a former engineer who migrated from Scotland with his family 40 or so years ago. I think he is in his 80s. He is slower in his step and speech, yet quick in his mind and joyful in his heart. Quite a thing to meet a friend’s parents and see a few of the root – these quick minds and joyful hearts.
Today’s conversation with Alistair was particularly a gift. He and I were to sit for a bit by the fire. We’d met yesterday so we had some sense of each other. I joked with Glen as he was off to meet his colleague Peter – “go change the world.” Alistair was gentle as he shared with me, twinkle in his eye, “maybe it isn’t changing the world, but instead, changing the way we think about the world.” Ah, a good start.
We each shared stories with each other over the next hour in what felt like one of the exquisite moments of deep connection with an elder. He told me about participation (yes, Glen and Peter were have a similar discussion with different content). Alistair’s story was of migrating. Sitting with his wife, daughter, and Glen as a 7 year-old to talk about what they were doing. They asked the kids when they arrived if they should stay in Auckland or go to Wellington. Alistair was sharing a version of participative leadership, of co-creation. “We were pioneers together.” Yup, that feels like the work of leadership and hosting today.
I so much appreciated Alistair’s wonder in being able to talk about choices and freedom in this era. He lives with an appreciation that is palpable and sweet. He thanked me for bringing my light, for carrying light. This too, deeply moved me. And one last kicker and twinkle – “You know what I’ve learned today?” he started as we were finishing our conversation. “Metaphysical discussions and umpteen cups of tea make me go to the bathroom.” We belly-laughed together.
Thanks Alistair for your light. And for just what I needed as I carry forward from four days on the South Island to a couple of weeks on the north island, and to the work of leadership that is crystal clear from our sit by the fire.