By Donna Ambler on 28 March 2018
In the midst of the biggest Australian cricket scandal since the underarm incident of 1981, the verb lead came to mind this week. It seems that Steve Smith, the man we thought had the qualities to hold a job some Australians believe is second in importance to the nation’s Prime Minister, does not have the qualities we thought he needed to lead our national team after all.
The man who was carving a spot for himself in national folklore that would put him above even the legendary Sir Donald Bradman had a spectacular fall from grace in South Africa last weekend. The only good thing he has done as a leader in the past week is to come out early to take the blame for the disastrous ball –tampering incident dubbed #tapegate.
Among the definitions for the verb to lead listed by the Collins Dictionary are: to show the way; to guide; to cause to act, feel, think, or behave in a certain way; induce; influence. Above all, leaders set an example. And when it comes to cricketers, a lot of the people they are setting that example for our junior players who admire them from afar.
In an opinion piece for the ABC online, associate professor of Sports Management at UTS Business School, Daryl Adair described the incident as the “moral equivalent of doping” and described it as a desperate attempt to be more competitive.
“How do coaches and parents explain to these impressionable youngsters that the captain of the Australian men's cricket team is a self-declared cheat and that he and colleagues persuaded the most junior player to break the rules in a desperate attempt to be more competitive?” he wrote.
Sponsors and fans have expressed disgust in Smith and other members of his so-called “leadership team”. So now Smith faces a troubled road ahead: he’s been stripped of the captaincy, suspended from the next test, fined and lost sponsors—before Cricket Australia has decided on other possible sanctions, which some suggest may include a one-year ban. Even if he were to regain the captaincy, it’s tough for a leader to recover and to regain trust after a situation that shows a lack of integrity.
Whichever way you look at it, Steve Smith let his team down. Worse than that, the Australian public, fans, sponsors and Cricket Australia feel incredibly let down.
So now we need somebody who knows how to lead and will lead with integrity, honesty and unwavering commitment. It’s rare that we find players of the calibre of wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist who famously walked off the field during a crucial World Cup semi-final 15 years ago when he knew he was out.
As American footballer and coach Vince Lombardi is regularly quoted:
“Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.”
By Donna Ambler on 23 March 2018
I actually thought jalking was a word made up by the crazy lady who started the running group I’m a member of – but it turns out it’s a real word after all. Well, kind of.
According to the Urban Dictionary, which is not my usual source of truth—but I’ll settle for any acknowledgment today, the verb jalk really does exist. But we’ve given it a slightly different spin. Jalk is defined online as a combination of jog and walk. The Urban Dictionary says it’s both a fast-paced walk and a slow-paced run. Where I live, it’s actually a combination of jogging (although we prefer to be called runners, not joggers) and talking.
You see, my running group is a support network. It’s where we solve the problems of the world and get through the tough times that come with being women of a certain age - wives, mothers, taxi drivers, cooks and cleaners – and also generally holding down a job at the same time.
Some days I talk, while others I listen. Since I work from home and don’t come into contact with many people other than my family most days, I tend to do lots of talking first thing in the morning.
I know there are days where I’m recruited to accompany the girls on long training runs because they know I’ll talk a lot and take their minds off the running. I also know that in some of my long training sessions I’ve told one of our usual talkers that I’d be happy to hear her recite the contents of her pantry—so long as she kept on talking so I could focus on listening and breathing, without thinking about where my legs or feet were hurting.
Recently, the father of a member of our running group passed two of us early one Saturday morning. He couldn’t understand how women could run, talk and laugh at the same time. Without the talking and laughing, some of us might not be running at all. I often say that I don’t get up early in the morning because of the running, I get out of bed because of the people I run with. They are my jalking friends. The friends I get to enjoy beautiful sunrises with. And while ever I can keep on jalking, I will.
"I run because I can.
When I get tired, I remember those who can't run, what they would give to have this simple gift I take for granted, and I run harder for them.
I know they would do the same for me."
By Donna Ambler on 12 March 2018
No, it's not a typo. That says life, not live.
Gill Hicks spoke a dinner at Dubbo RSL Club for International Women’s Day last week. In her push for peace in communities since she lost both her legs in a London train bombing, Gill has been encouraging people to imagine peace as a verb. Last week, she went a step further and suggested people imagine life as a verb.
Gill talks of her “first life”—before the 2005 bombing—and her “second life,” where she has learnt to adapt to life without legs. "We can't ever control random acts of violence but you can control how you react and respond," she said.
Part of her response was to establish the not-for-profit organisation MAD for Peace in 2007. MAD for Peace is a platform that connects people globally and encourages us to think of peace as a verb. The idea is to make peace something that we have an individual responsibility to DO and be conscious about every day.
The same applies to life.
In her “first life”, Gill arrived at work at 7.30am and left at 10.30pm. She has a close relationship with nicotine and alcohol. She exchanged Christmas gifts with the security guards in her building who played an integral part in her everyday life.
In coping with a life without legs and try to avoid spending all her time feeling angry, Gill has changed her focus to living in the moment—treating life as a verb: an action or doing word.
Patti Digh published a book in 2008 called Life Is a Verb: 37 Days To Wake Up, Be Mindful, And Live Intentionally. Five years earlier, Patti's stepfather died just 37 days after being diagnosed with lung cancer.
What emerged was a commitment to ask herself every morning: “What would I be doing today if I had only 37 days left to live?” She chose to leave behind her thoughts in writing and the book was the result. It’s part meditation, part how-to guide, part memoir and was designed to “leave as much of myself behind for my two daughters as I could, let them know me and see me as a real person, not just a mother, leave with them for safe-keeping my thoughts and memories, fears and dreams, the histories of what I am and who my people are”.
In the book, Digh identifies six core practices to jump-start a meaningful life:
- Say Yes
- Trust Yourself
- Slow Down
- Be Generous
- Speak Up
- Love More.
These two strong women seem to have a similar approach to life and give me the sense that their approach could help achieve the peace that Gill is striving for. So take control of your reactions and responses. That ought to help make life a doing word (a verb) every day.
Image from Peace As A Verb, where a range of merchandise is available in support of the work of MAD For Peace.