Be kind…



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Being a good follower

Everyday in my LinkedIn I see posts on being a leader. If you go to the bookstore, there is an entire section devoted to leadership. ”The 5 Levels of Leadership“, “The 21 Irrefutable laws of Leadership“, “Top 100 Best Ways to be a Great Leader“…and so on. Leadership is all fine and dandy but if everyone becomes a leader, then there would be no one left to lead. Try being a good follower.


What makes a good follower? I don’t think it is just blind obedience, in fact I know it isn’t. Blind obedience makes people into sheep and that doesn’t make any organization successful.

A good follower should question their leader. Where are we heading? Why are we going this way? Are we there yet? And a good leader should be able to answer these things. If they can’t, stop and wait until they figure it out otherwise you could be going in the wrong direction.  Part of questioning the leader is to remind them to keep their eyes on the prize and to ensure that they communicate it to the team.  Sometimes the vision changes, those need to be communicated otherwise some follower could be headed in the wrong direction.  A good follower needs to support a leader when headed in the right direction and question when they think it is a mistake.

As a good follower you need to be able to accept new ideas, or approaches and be prepared to cooperate.  Leadership requires more than one person, you cannot be a leader or a follower without someone else so your ideas will not always be chosen.  You need to be able to accept that with good graces. It’s not always easy though, especially if the reasons for the decision are not adequately communicated.

While on that topic, you must communicate when something isn’t working, or isn’t understood.  You must communicate when you need help.  The leader cannot be expected to read minds, or monitor everyone especially if that leader has lots of people under them.

A good follower should trust their leader. I am thinking of my manager in particular. He and I have worked together for almost 10 years at 3 different companies. Where he goes, I follow. I trust that he is making decisions that not only benefit himself but our entire team. I trust he has a vision and can share that with me (in fact that is essential – No vision = Why the fuck are we here?).  I trust that he supports me and has my back. I trust that I can be open and direct, that I don’t need to mince words.

In exchange he can trust that I will do what he asks; that I will not say ”no” out of hand. He can tell me what he wants to achieve, and leave me to work out the details. A good follower should be able to think for themselves, otherwise they become a burden.  If the follower understands the vision and the direction they can be proactive and anticipate the needs of the group. A good follower will expand their role to pitch in where needed. At my husbands restaurant there are some employees who will only do precisely what they are told, no more.

Through this arrangement, I have his back and support him. And as the old saying goes, “the tide raises all boats”. As he succeeds so do I and we succeed as a group.

But trust doesn’t come overnight and you cannot force it. Why would you care about your leader, if you didn’t feel they cared about you?  Why would you work to support your followers if they didn’t share your vision, or worked counter to the end goal.   That trust is built through the little things, like giving credit where it’s due or being fair and sharing rewards. The trust is built through listening and understanding.

I have had my share of bosses, and a few leaders. And only the later instill any sort of loyalty. To understand what makes a good leader, try being a good follower.


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Great adventure ends in tragedy

I felt compelled to respond to this tragedy.   Riding across Canada was one of the greatest adventures of my life and I love reading about people doing the same thing.  More recently having been hit while cycling, I know how easy it would have been to be fatal.  I suppose those two influences together draw me to this.

I don’t know Graeme Loader but having ridden the Trans-Canada highway and experienced the shit roads in Manitoba I can imagine what happened.  Here is what I wrote in 2006,

Manitobas roads are crap too. Shit, even China has better highways. Like what the hell is the Manitoban government spending their tax dollars on? The Tranny doesn’t even have paved shoulders for God sake! I spent a lot of time in the road forcing traffic into the left-hand lane. A few times I had to hurl myself onto the shoulder to avoid the trucks as they came by passing each other shoulder to shoulder. This was tough to control as loose gravel and a heavy bike are not conducive to safe biking.

I am deeply sorry for Graeme’s family to lose someone so young during what should have been a fun and memorable experience.  A lot of people are posting about cycling being unsafe and stuff.  Sometimes it is, but crossing the street can be dangerous too.  Graeme was raising money for the WWF and I was happy to donate.  I’m just sorry it was this tragedy which brought it to my attention.

Rest in peace fellow randonneur, may the wind always be at your back.


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Zuimei on Global Morning Television

Zuimei was on Global Morning Television talking about Ramen.


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last weekend of summer

I am sitting in a Starbucks on Spadina mostly to get out of the heat.  I wore jeans today and that was a mistake.  They don’t fit very well and my balls are sticking to my leg. 

I am sitting here reading a Douglas Coupland book I picked up at BMV.
I don’t really know Douglas Coupland’s writing but it was a name I recognised and it was either this or Salman Rushdie. Rushdie’s books have too many words in it and I need something easy to digest.

I wish I could read some of those epic Russian novels like Nabakov,  but when I start reading my mind just shuts off and I end up reading the same sentence over and over.

My arm is back in the sling.  I over exerted it yesterday and now it hurts. Such a great way to end the summer.  Two cycling seasons ruined.


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Second Surgery

So I survived getting hit by a bus. And while I survived I was not left without residual effects.  I had a constant ache in my shoulder what became more severe with use.  This was due to the massive amounts of bone that needed to be cleaned out, which resulted in a loss of about an inch on the left humerus.

AP shoulder  5

This x-ray, taken after months of healing and physiotherapy, still has a massive gap between the head of the humerus and the socket of the shoulder.  This caused massive instability which left me unable to cycle very long, an hour and a half being the maximum and it hurt the whole time I rode.

I spoke to the surgeon after the one year consultation and asked what else I could do.  He proposed a lengthening, where the humerus would severed and a piece of bone would be put in between and then everything bolted back together.  The piece of bone would come from my hip in what is termed an iliac crest bone graft.

I said, let me think about it.

Surgery isn’t something undertaken lightly, there are obviously risks and for me, I was concerned with having to go back to square one.  I had spent a year getting most of my life back to normal. I was working again after 3 months off, I was beginning to cycle again.  In truth I was not very keen on the idea at first.

But being smart enough to know when I need the opinion of someone smarter than me, I got copies of all my records and sent to them to my brother-in-law who is a sports physiotherapist.  I explained what I understood Dr. Nauth was proposing and asked for his take.  He said, it didn’t make sense to him since the rotator cuff was what held everything in place.  Later that evening he called me back and said, “your surgeon is a very clever man.” that he understood exactly what he was suggesting, that it would work and that without it I would be looking at arthritis (and still will be but hopefully less severe) and that planned surgeries rarely have the same recovering time that accidental ones do.


So I called Dr. Nauth’s office and said I would like to proceed.

I had to wait two and a half months for the surgery but that’s just the way it goes. I arrived at the hospital at 6:00 am as instructed and within 15 minutes was brought into a gurney room.  I was instructed to undress and put on a gown.  After another wait a nurse came over, hooked up the heart rate monitor, put in the IV and drew some blood. After a few minutes a young doctor came by, said he was the anesthesiologist resident and that I had a number of pain control options.  I said , “I’ll take them all!”  Last time was such a shit show I didn’t want to ever to feel that way again if I could help it.  He gave me a nerve block, which required an ultrasound on my neck and a needle but by the end of it I could not feel my arm.  It was awesome.  They also gave me some anti-anxiety meds and by the time I was on my way to the OR I was feeling pretty good.

This brought to mind what happened the first time. Already it was night and day.  The first time it was 30 minutes before I was supposed to be on the table before they even had me change.  They had forgotten about me, and as a result it was so rushed I never got to speak to anyone.   The IV didn’t go in until I was already in the OR. No nerve block, no anti-anxiety meds, no nothing and all because someone forgot about me.


The operation was simple, for me anyway.  I was out of recover and in a room by 1:00 pm to find Zuimei and Mark waiting for me.  I had a morphine drip for the next 20 hours which was, I must say, pretty amazing. I was nauseous because of the analgesic and unable to keep anything down. However in this situation, pain meds win, hands down.

Last time I only had the morphine for about 14 hours and I am not even totally sure it was working properly because this was so much better.  The room was better too.  Last time I was in a room of four with a junky yelling every hour about his meds, and this time I had a room to myself.  Even the nurses were different this time.

In two weeks I am getting the staples out.  Already the arm is moving better than before. It feels more solid than ever, and I have begun moving it already which is days if not weeks ahead of where I was last time at this point in the healing.

Plus the scar is over the old scar so hopefully it’ll look more badass.




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