Not your usual leadership blog

I was supposed to write a leadership blog for you today. But when I came to write it this afternoon, I had nothing.  Instead, I wanted to tell you about the holiday I’ve just spent with my whanau.

There was nothing spectacularly different about this holiday. It’s one we take every year in September to Wanaka to ski with our kids and my 18-year-old niece, Billie.

Except this year, it felt different.

Family dynamics trickled over us, making their well-worn paths when we’re together. The hard-ass organiser, the placating peacemaker, the ‘go with the flow, always late’ cruiser – they all showed up. Sulky, bossy, subdued and hurt made their entrances and their exits throughout the week.

It wasn’t the perfect holiday. And yet for me, it was. I felt more joy on this holiday than I’ve felt in a long time.

Perhaps it was the fact that Billie and her boyfriend Gabriel hung out with my 15-year-old daughter – and I saw her seeing the woman she could become because of it. It might have been listening to the gentle ribbing my husband gave Gabriel about his snowboarding prowess (or lack thereof) on the way down from the mountain each day. It could have been the surprise catch up with our 18-year-old son who was in Queenstown with his mates, but who spent the afternoon with us at an Irish pub. My heart swelled so much I thought it would burst.

Maybe I’m just a middle-aged menopausal woman who’s starting to realise what is truly important to me. But, there was something special about last week.  

It was the mundane. The games of cards, the cooking of burgers at the end of the day, the watching of movies on the couch together in the evening. Me nagging everyone to put their washing in the washing machine every afternoon so it could be ready for the next day’s skiing.

In the mundane and the familiar I felt joy.  

I’ve sometimes struggled with touching joy. I’ve grasped for it, really wanting to be in ‘this moment’, but somehow, falling short. I worry about what I have to do for work next week, or how I feel like I’m failing in different aspects of my life.

Those uncomfortable companions still joined me this week. But also, joy was here too. In fact, joy was big and lovely and present in my holiday. And that’s what I wanted to write to you about this week.

I hope you too feel joy this week, even if it is in the mundane.  And accept that it’s OK for joy to co-exist with worries sometimes too.

8 Comments

  1. Chris Gladstone on October 5, 2023 at 7:58 pm

    Perfect!

  2. Chris Gladstone on October 5, 2023 at 7:58 pm

    Perfect! Thank you.

  3. David MacGibbon on October 4, 2023 at 10:02 am

    Hi Suzi, this is a great post thank you! I spent last weekend with the family (including our two 17 & 15yo’s) in Wellington in appalling weather. Forcing us to change plans, it simplified our weekend and gave us more time just to be together rather than action focused. Time spent in the moment rather than rushing to create the moment ended up producing a special time for us all.

    I get struggling with touching joy, I’ve personally put this down to a sidebar of a Fear of Failure motivator. I think as long as you can recognise it you can learn to embrace it -nothing a good dose of positive self-talk cant help!

    Cheers, David.

    • Suzi McAlpine on October 4, 2023 at 10:30 am

      Thanks for sharing about your weekend David – love how the weather ended up simplifying the weekend for you all. 🙂

  4. Sarah Biddiscombe on October 4, 2023 at 9:04 am

    A great piece of writing, thank you for sharing.
    I have spent the past 2 weeks visiting the UK, staying with my mum who is 90 and lives there. I have been living in New Zealand for nearly 20 years now and still find my trip “home” to be the tonic I need when life seems a little hard. It is a mundane trip in the best possible way, I sit in my mums lounge drinking tea and chatting whilst Eastenders plays in the background; something I have done in that lounge since I was 15 years old. It makes me so happy and nourishes my soul. This year my 25 year old daughter came too and so my cup was certainly full by the time it was to come back again.

    • Suzi McAlpine on October 4, 2023 at 9:32 am

      Love this Sarah, thanks for sharing your wonderful experience.

  5. Tony Kennedy on October 4, 2023 at 8:18 am

    Finding joy in the mundane is is a strong indicator of being truly present in “this moment”
    A reminder that real holidays are good for the soul.
    Ngā mihi Tony

    • Suzi McAlpine on October 4, 2023 at 9:32 am

      Yes I hadn’t thought of that Tony, you’re right! Thank you

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Suzi McAlpine

Suzi McAlpine is a Leadership Development Specialist and author of the award-winning leadership blog, The Leader’s Digest. She writes and teaches about accomplished leadership, what magic emerges when it’s present, and how to ignite better leadership in individuals, teams and organisations. Suzi has been a leader and senior executive herself, working alongside CEOs and executive teams in a variety of roles. Her experience has included being a head-hunter, an executive coach, and a practice leader for a division at the world’s largest HR consulting firm. Suzi provides a range of services as a Leadership Development Specialist, including executive coaching, leadership workshops and development programmes for CEOs, leadership teams and organisations throughout New Zealand.

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