Almost Too Late…
Good afternoon dear reader & welcome to my world for another week. I had the pleasure of attending the Nelson Tasman Chamber of Commerce Aspire conference this last Thursday. Sometimes I feel taking a whole day out where one does not initially perceive the relevance to their own business, is fraught with difficulty on my conscience; but then I never regret the decision.
This year the Keynote speaker was the Human Resource Director from Vodafone in New Zealand. Amongst a fascinating presentation he discussed why work was important, including Attraction, Achievement & Affiliation. He, like many others during the day, spoke about the shift in work which is happening so quickly & the huge gap being created for people with experience… So, how do we grow people ~ his view, the answers are unknown! Then the bombshell: “We are Almost Too Late”. 
Whilst I did not disagree with another speaker who suggested the future opportunities provide us “to think differently”, however, he also indicated any Work ~ Life balance people speak of, is simply BS!  I have been reflecting since, combined with another conference last month in Gold Coast, I am tending to believe life is becoming one of Image Management.
There is nothing particularly wrong with these two words, but when you put them together & give them to a leader, it is a deadly cocktail. I am beginning to believe image management is what we begin to do when our inner world becomes separated from our outer world.
If the outward & inward are not integrated, we literally come apart. And we have seen plenty of examples in recent years of leaders whose lives have dis-integrated.
Because of such dangers of disintegration, I wonder about this tolerance for duplicity often. Everything some people do is for show. On their outside facade as I see it, to the average person, these professionals look zealous & committed. With all their trappings, the problem appears as though, they survive projecting the image of a life they have stopped living.
Paying attention to your outer life while your inner life languishes is like getting a facelift when you have a malignant tumour. If you have been in leadership any length of time, we know what it is like to prop up an external image which does not match your soul reality. Some seek for the weekend, however, this is not the life they experiencing Monday to Friday.
The greatest danger, really, is not in projecting a false image, rather in getting comfortable with it, learning how to “succeed” with a disconnected soul. Over time we can become very adept at playing the image-management game. The truth is you do not need to have a healthy soul to be seen as a success.
You are walking in a minefield when your outward success begins to outpace your inward life. In recent years we have seen too many examples of people whose outward success was beyond what their character could handle. Just reflect on the last week with the death of both Anthony Bourdain, celebrity chef & CNN host in an apparent suicide @ 61. This follows only last Wednesday, American fashion designer Kate Spade became known for launching a successful line of handbags in the 1990s, found in her apartment of an apparent suicide. And, I probably do not need to mention Robin Williams, amongst others…
In the movie Avatar, Marine Jake Sully is a paraplegic whose military assignment is to gather Intel by using an “avatar” identity. Even though he was broken, the avatar he lived through virtually was strong, powerful & whole. The avatar everyone saw was radically different than the Jake Sully no one saw. Many I feel have the need to assume an “avatar” identity.
A Latin phrase on an ancient coat of arms speaks to the tension of image management. Esse quam videri means “to be rather than appear to be,” & those words resonate with me. I do not want there to be a gap between what I am & what I portray. I do not want to project an avatar when my internal world is broken. But as the years go by, I have found it easier to function out of my experience & gifting & skill.
I have seen on television, even recently, the demolition of an old building coming down. At the appointed time, you hear a muffled explosion. Slowly the walls began to crack, bricks began to crumble, & finally the whole thing falls in on itself in a pile of dust & rubble.
Many weeks of preparation, when next to nothing appeared to be changing on the outside, a systematic dismantling takes place inside. Weaknesses were being exposed, & skilled demolition experts work their magic. The end result is a total collapse, an implosion.
This image has served as a warning to me. When I practice image management I am headed toward an implosion.
I remember sitting in a meeting some years back, talking about life & a white-haired man at the table was probably in his upper sixties spoke. I will never forget the words to quietly but powerfully roll off his lips: “The older I get, the less concern I perceive with what I have or have not done & the more concern I have for what I have or have not become.”
The older I get, the more his words ring true to me. They are a call to pay attention to what is happening inside. They are a reminder I have a soul. I am more than simply what I achieve outwardly.
A healthy soul keeps my life glued together. Neglect of the soul & preoccupation with doing, achieving, & succeeding will inevitably lead to image management. 
So, how are you doing with this one my friends? If your life were a building, are you being dismantled from the inside? Is an implosion in your future? Is it almost too late?
Thank you for taking the time to be with me once again. I hope my journey may encourage you also. This is Kenn Butler in Paradise, Nelson, with my best wishes for the weekend ahead. I look forward to being with you all again next week.
 Anthony Welton, Human Resource Director Vodafone NZ & Chair of Vodafone NZ Foundation