May
24

Audit Time and The Power of the MVP

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Photo by Kelly Sikkema It’s audit time in New Zealand schools. A state appointed auditor has a close look at the financial performance of your school (with a few random ‘add-on’ questions included). This can be a process akin to dental surgery or it can go quietly in a low-key type of way. What I’ve […]

May
17

Mindfulness in Bed

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Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash Last week David wrote a powerful piece called 4am. It’s well worth reading if you haven’t already done so! It reminded me a lot of the sleep pattern/habit that I’m currently in and which I find really annoying! Most mornings I find myself lying awake in bed, about an […]

May
10

4am

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An eon ago you woke up, and try as you might, you just can’t get back to sleep. Random thoughts, ideas and worries flick through your mind in a messy cascade of wakefulness. You don’t really know how long this has been going on, but it feels almost endless. And you know this is bad […]

May
03

The Staffroom Term Planner

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It’s the beginning of a new Term.  You find yourself standing in the staffroom looking at the Term planner. It’s full of rows and columns, numbers and days.  At one point, very recently, the planner was pretty much empty. Now you look at it and you see the empty boxes made up by the intersecting […]

Apr
12

Eclipse Predicted

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Photo by Garrett Jackson One quarter through this new year and you’re probably already behind on some of those aspirational goals that you set with the energy and optimism that the Christmas holidays brought. This is business as usual for most of us mortals and nothing to worry about, but over the last week we […]

Apr
05

Creativity Rebellion

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Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona  Ok, so I’m a bit of a slow learner. That’s probably no surprise to some of you, let alone me! I’ve just come across OSHO’s wonderful quote. He says; “Creativity is the greatest rebellion in existence.” Ooooh! I like that! I’ve always fancied a bit of rebellion, or at least […]

Mar
29

How open are you to change?

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Photo by Nubelson Fernandes  How open are you to change? The answer will vary based on a number of factors – not the least being how busy you are when the possibility arises. As we are currently in a 5 day mini-break, and with the April school holidays only a fortnight away (in NZ anyway), […]

Mar
22

The BIG List of Little Things That Matter

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Photo by Anna Samoylova  It’s been almost two years since I was last on school camp. And to be honest, the last time I was on camp I wondered a lot whether it would be my last. Turns out it wasn’t and it isn’t. I’m pretty grateful about that. I do like a good school […]

Mar
15

Clarity of Purpose

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  Last weekend our school held one of those uniquely NZ events – a working bee. There are things happening on our site this year and we needed to remove/prune a large number of trees and shrubs. So out went the word to the community – help needed. When I got onsite just before 8am […]

Mar
08

It’s All Bite Sized

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Photo by amirali mirhashemian  I used to like reminding my students, when they’d tell me that things were too hard or just simply too much, that the key to beating this sort of stuff is to think of it all as a hamburger. Yup a hamburger. Stick with me here. What I used to tell […]

Mar
01

Amplifying or Creating? – Culture Change the Easy(er) Way

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Photo by Sergio Capuzzimati  The thought below came out of a recent conversation with a colleague where we were discussing the the willingness (or otherwise) of some newer staff members to take on extra responsibilities when needed. They were frustrated at this situation and wanted change, but at the same time were grateful that many […]

Feb
23

The Tide Comes In and The Tide Flows Out

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. The tide comes in and the tide flows out.  This happens twice a day; not quite like clock work, but as close to it as possible without a human hand guiding it. To be honest it’s better this way. So too do emotions. And the confusions that flow with them. Sometimes you find yourself […]

Feb
09

Fading Attention

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Photo by Markus Spiske  When the road works signs went up along the local road I drive every day, I think everyone  noticed them. They were brightly coloured and eye-catching. Everyone slowed down, some even got right down to the new 30km/hr limit. A fortnight later, the media were reporting that traffic was speeding by, […]

Dec
15

Goodbye 2023

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Photo by Ethan Robertson    And so ends 2023 for the Forty Hour team. Thanks for following along and being part of our push to challenge the status quo of principalship in Aotearoa New Zealand. You 100% should ‘clock out’ too when the time comes, but if you find yourself lying on a beach somewhere […]

Dec
08

It’s Been Quite a Year

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Photo by Nils  It’s been quite a year. In fact, it’s been quite a few years now. And it looks like next year, and the following, will also be quite a year or two as well! Congratulations. You have made it through this “Quite a Year” phenomenon. Well almost. A week or so to go, […]

Dec
01

Plenty of Service But No Servants

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  People often comment on the financial difference between working in the public sector and working in a business. When contracts are being negotiated comparisons are made and we often end up bemoaning  the relative under pay. But it’s not under payment that is causing me to age a little more quickly this week, it’s […]

Nov
24

Anxiety Superpowers

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Photo by Kamran Chaudhry  Ok, so we all know that everyone experiences some level of anxiety.  For some of us it might be as simple as that nagging little thing in the back of our mind that tells us we’ve missed something important.  For others it might be more  like a suspenseful movie playing and […]

Nov
17

Welcome to the Jungle

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Photo by Chris Abney  Three weeks to go in Term 4 – welcome to the jungle! This is the time when I start to have a nagging feeling that the human brain (mine) isn’t made to work at this pace. I was standing in the playground after school this week and simply could not remember […]

Nov
10

Embracing Uncertainty

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Photo by Letizia Bordoni  With Uncertainty There Are Always Choices Over the last few weeks, there’s been a lot of talk about the changes coming our way in the Education sector in New Zealand as a result of the change of Government. They say that change is the only constant. And whoever “they” is, they […]

Nov
03

Urgent

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Photo by Rod Long  How’s your urgent list going? Getting longer or starting to glow with an ominous neon highlight? As the clock ticks down for the last few weeks of this year, it’s easy for the ‘urgent’ stuff to cloud what’s important. Urgent by itself is not necessarily a reason for something to be […]

Oct
27

A Happy Comparison

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Photo by Liam Martens  I once spent a week in Wellington as part of an initiative only the ‘senior’ members of principalship will remember. It was called the Principals’ Planning Development Centre. An experienced leader could apply after a minimum 5 years in the role and if selected, had access to an intensive, immersive course […]

Oct
20

Authenticity

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Photo by Albert Stoynov  When I was 17, which is a little bit younger than I am today, I began my first three week posting at a primary school as part of my first year of teacher’s training.  Sadly, I don’t remember the name of the teacher who stood in front of the class that […]

Oct
13

Popcorn Needed

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Photo by Georgia Vagim What a double header we have this weekend! On Sunday we have a classic sporting event between the All Blacks and Ireland with the experts picking our Irish friends as the probable winners. Despite the predictions, right up until the moment I’m proven wrong, I’m hoping deeply that our team wins. […]

Sep
22

Your future self will love you

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Photo by Benjamin Davies Congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of another term. You’ve done it! No doubt there have been some misfires, dropped balls, and a few times when everything has seemed just a little icky and maybe a bit stuck. But you’ve made it anyway; like you always do. It almost seems […]

Sep
15

One at a Time

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Photo by Pedro Lastra You have probably heard the story about someone walking along a beach covered with starfish washed up by the tide. The starfish won’t last long out of the water and there are millions of them. Further along the sand is another person bending down and throwing the unfortunate creatures back into […]

Sep
08

What if you were the easiest person to work with?

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Photo by krakenimages I really enjoyed David’s question last week; “What would this look like if it was easy?”  Which got me thinking and I want to extend this just a little bit further. What if you moved through your school, or learning place, as if you were the easiest person to work with? Please note […]

Sep
01

What would this look like If it were easy?

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Photo by Ignacio Amenábar Principalship is sometimes described as hard, complex, or challenging, which can all be true at times, but what if it wasn’t? What if it was easy? And interestingly, ‘easy’ is very subjective. I’m guessing we all have aspects of the job that we find easy, but that others may well find […]

Aug
25

Take Some Time

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Photo by Brett Jordan Last week David provocatively asked “What would you do if you had only two hours a week in your job”. It hit a nerve with a number of people, including, unsurprisingly, me. There were elements of David’s piece that were mighty attractive. For a start, imagine only working for two hours […]

Aug
18

The 2 Hour Principal

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Photo by Waldemar  It’s February 2024 and the newly elected coalition Government has just launched its revolutionary education policy. All principals have been called to Wellington to learn about the fresh new AI derived curriculum and how it will transform their schools. Their excitement is palpable. This huge new project will dominate the next 6 […]

Aug
11

Who’s Keeping The Score?

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Photo by Kenny Eliason  I’m sitting at a local coffee house here in Timaru. Across the table from me sits my friend. He’s ordered a bucketful sized coffee brimming with three shots, a powdering of chocolate and a jaffa on the side. It’s going to be one of those conversations I guess, so I close […]

Aug
04

Email – Slave or Master?

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Photo by Brett Jordan Some tech experts are predicting that the AI revolution will effectively end email as we know it. Not because it will bring newer, better alternatives, but because AI written spam will overwhelm the system. Maybe. While we wait to see if this dire prophecy becomes true, the good old email reigns […]

Jul
28

Working With The Board

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Photo by Dylan Gillis    We’re now well and truly into the new Term. No doubt you’re just about to head into another board meeting, or you’ve just had one. Board meetings are always potentially stressful places. The main reason for this is because it involves people and their personalities. A Board meeting can be […]

Jul
21

Energy In – Energy Out

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Photo by Federico Beccari It’s Friday, and in New Zealand, the end of the first week back in a shiny new school Term. For some of you this is the first time you’ve made this milestone as a principal, for others you’ve been here literally a hundred times before. If you pause for a moment, […]

Jun
30

What’s Your Real Insurance Policy?

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  Today we have a guest post from Saira Boyle. Saira has wide experience in leading schools and  is currently the principal of Mt Hobson Academy based in Auckland. She shares some confronting reality about our job, but also offers solutions that just might be what you need.   What’s your real insurance policy? Over […]

Jun
23

Don’t Worry Be Happy

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  And just like that we find ourselves at the back end of yet another Term. No doubt there were times when it felt like this Term would never end, but like everything it will and it does and it has, or nearly. This got me thinking about our cultural obsession with being happy. I […]

Jun
16

Ignorance Can Be Bliss

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Photo by Afra Ramió  I was speaking to a newly minted principal the other day who was experiencing a strange phenomenon – they were finding their new job fairly easy! .   .   . I can still remember my first principalship, a week in and sitting at my new principal desk, with the door shut and […]

Jun
09

Why do we often miss our goals?

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  As a profession we are relentlessly and continually in a state of goal setting. Our goals are supported by plans that are extended descriptions of how we expect we’ll successfully nail our goals. Often these plans are meticulously descriptive. This thing will happen first, and then this thing will happen and then this thing […]

Jun
02

Cutting Corners Like a Boss

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Photo by Felix Berger  Corner cutting is about taking the shortest or most direct route to where you want to go. You’d think that would be a good thing, but this little idiom also carries the unhappy thought that you might be leaving something important out or are going to hit a metaphorical curb. Imagine […]

May
26

When was the last time?

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  When was the last time? We’re half way through the term and so I thought it might be a good idea just to give you a quick list of things to ponder! Ten things to ask: When was the last time you had a school related meeting in school time in a cafe downtown? […]

May
19

Following Advice

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Photo by Markus Winkler  What is it about taking your own advice that is so difficult? There’s some sort of paradox at play that makes it easy (relatively) to give solid, helpful advice to just about anyone, but makes it 10x harder to follow for yourself. And that’s a nuisance because of all the people […]

May
12

Is it me or is it you?

By | Blog

. Things are pretty fraught at the moment. There’s the new restraint requirements, the new curriculum developments, the on-going contract negotiations with the government (are they even negotiations? They feel a bit like dis-negotiations). And there’s the constant wave of Covid sickness. Oh and as we head into the winter months there’s a new round […]

May
05

Doing the Best with the Resources You Have

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Photo by Roberto Sorin  If you are a NZ principal operating under the “work ban”, how is that going for you? 8am – 5pm on week days equals 45 hours (unless you are managing a lunch break . . . ). Most people that I’ve talked to are finding it impossible to do their usual […]

Apr
28

Aroha

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It’s that time of the cycle again – yup, the beginning of a new term. The winter terms are usually fraught with all sorts of mischief – but then again which term isn’t? So with this in mind, what sort of systems do you have in place that are simple enough to use when times […]

Apr
07

Standing Up

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Photo by Louis Smit  Just like the cliché about a day being a long time in politics, contract negotiations can change quickly and the post below was written before the PPCB members settled this week . . . regardless, and no matter whether the NZEI members do likewise, conditions around our jobs simply have to […]

Mar
31

The Little List of Big Things

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Photo by Chimene Gaspar  It’s the end of the term and so I’ve decided to make this week’s post particularly short. We constantly get bombarded with things that use up our time, our energy and quite often make us anxious. So here is a list of ideas that you can do in the following contexts: […]

Mar
24

Calling the Cavalry

By | Blog

  What would make your principal role better? If you wave a magic wand and remove the ‘but’ that floats alongside any honest conversation regarding the desirability of the principalship role, what changes? .   .   . Right now we are pushing for improvements to our employment contracts. Money and conditions (workload/sustainability). These things are outside […]

Mar
17

Mind the Gap

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      Hi everyone, there are some of you who will be aware of this, and some of you who won’t, but after 28 years of principalship, I’m having a break. While no longer in the role as a principal, I feel as though I still have plenty to add. So I’m really happy […]

Mar
10

Resilience is Not Singular

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Photo by Nicole Baster Resilience is not singular. I wrote this last week after a chat with some awesome Wellington principals. We were discussing tactics that school leaders could use to make the job better and more sustainable. As we discussed deliberately recovering after periods of intense work, I could see people nodding but with […]

Mar
03

Am I Being OTT?

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  Ok I’m going a bit OTT here, a bit Off The Topic, a bit off the reservation so to speak. But I’ve got to get this off my chest, and well, that’s gotta be a good thing for my well being and my ability to function as a human being. When I was a […]

Feb
24

Sprinting or Jogging?

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. “At this altitude, I can run flat out for a half-mile before my hands start shaking.” – Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Identity. I’ve always loved this line from the movie, even though my personal experience of running ‘flat out’ never left me with shaking hands . . . legs, heart, […]

Feb
17

What Would You Do?

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Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN Ralph Waldo Emerson has a way with words and sentences. Especially with the inspirational type. He has this wonderful knack of saying the most sensible things when it comes to that thing that we all do every single day; living. Even more amazing he does so through the mist of time. […]

Feb
10

Two Weeks In

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Photo by Eric Rothermel  Two weeks in . . . how did that happen?! There’s no denying that launching a school year has one very consistent and familiar pattern for me – it starts fast and then gets faster! And I’ve been lucky. I had a great holiday break. When the checkout operators asked me, […]

Feb
03

Simplify

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Photo by Brett Jordan As you’ll know by now with my writing, much of it is happenstance. That is, there is a lot of time when I have no idea what to write, only to happen upon something that catches my eye. Maybe I’m the magpie of writers? There’s a simplicity about this which is […]

Jan
27

Cognitive Distortions

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Photo by Hal Gatewood  There’s something about holidays and the freedom it gives to clear out the clutter in your mind and just sit down, or lie down in my case, with a beer in hand (or your favourite beverage), and chew the fat with one of your besties. Holidays give you this freedom, and […]

Dec
09

IS IT A CONSPIRACY?

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Photo by Markus Winkler   Congratulations everyone, you’ve just about done it. You’ve just about made it through to the end of another school year. And, except for a few brain cells or so, you’ve largely got through intact. I’ve got a feeling that I said something similar at the end of last year, or […]

Dec
02

Unruly Lists

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Photo by Thomas Bormans  How’s your list going? You know the one – the one with all the stuff you have to get done before the end of Term. I’m currently finding mine is tricky to control. Even if I beat it with a metaphorical stick, it still seems to fight my need for order. […]

Nov
25

Ctrl Alt Del part 2

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  A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog piece about the reset buttons on a computer, Ctrl Alt Del. I thought they were a useful way of looking at your own reset when finding yourself in troubled waters in your school. Term Four is the term where everything comes towards you at mindboggling […]

Nov
18

Tempting Fate

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Photo by Casey Horner  A fortnight ago I wrote about the privilege of going on a school camp and the fact that even though it left me well behind with other important work, I didn’t care – it was worth it. Sitting here 14 days later, I’m reflecting that I may have tempted fate with […]

Nov
11

Ctrl Alt Del

By | Blog

  Ok, so it’s been a few weeks now. And to be honest I was hoping that maybe over time the feeling would’ve seeped away and that maybe, just maybe, I’d have pulled on my big boy’s pants and just gotten over it. But I haven’t. Gotten over it I mean. I’m talking about the […]

Nov
04

School Camp

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  I’m just  back from camp. Four days with our Year 8s in the beautiful but wild Arthur’s Pass deep in the Southern Alps. It rained day and night for the entire time we were there. Not wimpy east coast rain either, but real hose like, soaking, proper rain. And it didn’t matter, because the […]

Oct
28

Letter to Myself Revisited

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Photo by Ridwan Meah  You’ve made it through the first couple of weeks of term. Some of you are beginning Surplus Staffing processes, some of you are fending off complaints, some of you are walking along the appointment tightwire, some of you are arguing dollars in the budget cycle, and some are just finding it […]

Oct
21

Bin The Pile Early This Year

By | Blog

  If you would like a guaranteed way to feel mentally ‘lighter’ in less than an hour, try scheduling 60 minutes of work-based decluttering next week. All you have to do is block out 1 hour in your diary and devote it to; Deleting any openly displayed piles of paper in and around your office […]

Sep
30

Knowing Yourself

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Photo by Önder Örtel In a complex, often demanding job like ours, everyone has times when things get a little ‘wobbly’. This is true for newbies and 20 year veterans alike. The trick is to recognise it happening as early as possible and then lean hard into the stuff that creates your own wellness. What […]

Sep
23

Keeping it Simple

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We’re now well and truly into the busyness of Term. We’ve got nine weeks under our belts, and if you haven’t already hit the “rocky times” of the Term, then chances are you’re about to.  “Rocky times” tend to arrive when people are tired. Patience flows out the door like the outgoing tide, and with […]

Sep
16

Feeling Creatures That Think

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Photo by Milad Fakurian It’s 7am and we’re in a van convoy (well 2 vans going the same way) of local principals heading to the NZPF Annual Conference. We’ve got a two hour drive ahead of us and people are beginning to settle into the early rhythm of this adventure. There are multiple conversations starting.  […]

Sep
09

Flourish

By | Blog

Last week I found myself getting ready to write my blog. I was on school camp, at the base of Mt Hutt. I’d snuck away from the energy and locomotion of the 32 Yr 7 and 8’s and set up my laptop outside on a deck overlooking the Canterbury plains. The evening had an early […]

Aug
26

Critical Mass

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. “The world is changed by your example, not your opinion.” Paulo Coelho author   There’s truth and power in those words. As an aspirational 40 Hour Principal how you do your job has an impact on others. And from the 40 Hour Project perspective, the others I’m talking about are your colleagues. When you […]

Aug
19

Super Vision

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. I’ve never been a big fan of the two words Supervisor and Supervision.  Whether I look at the official definition or not they still both leave me with an authoritarian overseer feel about things. Like you’re been watched and well, you know, supervised. For me there’s an emotive judgment to the word that suggests […]

Aug
12

Perhaps the Swivelly Chair is Too Comfortable

By | Blog

  There’s a great kids movie called Wall-E that came out a few years ago. It’s one of those early Pixar animated films that actually has a story line. It’s 2085 and the world is a mess. Humanity has abandoned the (broken) earth and for generations has been travelling through space looking for a new […]

Aug
05

The Red Umbrella

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Photo by Alessandra Caretto    Around the corner of the building ran Brian. “Mr Zee, Mr Zee!” he yelled in a frantic tone. Each “Mr Zee” sounding more and more urgent and concerning. Me, being the Mr Zee in question, well I couldn’t avoid these cries. It was the end of the day, well, the […]

Jul
29

To Teach or Not to Teach – That is the Question

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Photo by Vladislav Babienko I have a growing feeling that the next few weeks are going to be huge. There’s a weird sort of vibe in the wider cosmos and I have a suspicion that winter needs to make way for something better – quickly. I don’t know how things are looking in your particular […]

Jul
08

Avalanche Peak

By | Blog

  In Arthur’s Pass you’ll find a number of amazing walks. Some take you further into the mountains, up the mountains, over the mountains and down into the valleys on the other side. These walks in New Zealand are called tramps. One of my favourites is up a very steep mountain side called Avalanche Peak. […]

Jul
01

Admin Costs

By | Blog

Photo by Sear Greyson As you read this, here in New Zealand we will be celebrating the appearance of the star cluster we call Matariki. These stars can be seen at mid-winter and using the Māori lunar calendar, mark the start of a new year. A new year is always a perfect time to take […]

Jun
17

Hope

By | Blog

  . On the way to work, when I’m feeling particularly naughty, I do the adult equivalent of a kid dawdling to school. I take the long way. In Timaru there is never a long way to anywhere, so I have to be a little creative Maybe this is a form of procrastination, but it […]

Jun
10

You are Not Short of Time

By | Blog

Photo by Lukas Blazek  Time, the most precious gift and the one thing that we can’t replenish – when it’s gone, it’s gone. Each of us gets 168 hours every week. You, me, and Elon Musk got exactly the same amount last week, and each of us used it differently. I don’t know about you […]