Saturday, April 2, 2016

No corporate deals as the 'wheels on the bus go round-and-round'

One of the nice things about reaching almost the end of a high-profile and so-called high-powered career, is the ability to be brutally honest in your dealings with people and to worry a lot less as to how they may judge you. Here is an example:

Two weeks ago I was just finishing our regular session of singing nursery rhymes - along with twenty young mum's or grandmothers, and their toddlers - at the Cottesloe Library where I love taking our 15 month-old granddaughter, Ember.

My mobile phone rang; a call from a very senior WA Government bureaucrat wanting to talk with me urgently regarding a matter concerning Indonesia. The conversation went like this:

Me: (Speaking quietly): "Hello, it's Ross"
Bob: "Ross, it's Bob here, I need to talk with you urgently about this Indonesian matter, so is now good?"
Me: "Aahhh, actually Bob I am a bit busy at the moment."
Bob: "Geez, how long will your meeting go for as we need to talk now?"
Me: Well, to be honest Bob, I am not at a meeting. I am at nursery rhymes for toddlers at the Cottesloe Library."
Bob: "Your at the whaaat???"
Me: “Rhyme Time; You know, like..'The wheels on the bus go round-and- round, round- and- round’."
Bob (Interrupting): "Oh for God's sake, I know 'Wheels on the bus'. You don't have to sing it to me!"
Me: It's quite a nice song actually, Bob. Hello. Bob; you still there?"

End of call, so back to my old-man priority with Ember and more songs.

It then occurred to me that in my younger days I would never had contemplated such frankness in business as I strived to climb the corporate ladder. I also reflected that when I was diagnosed with ‘terminal’ cancer at the age of 42 whilst living, with my wife Katherine and two children, in Singapore I had to confront the reality that despite my words, the corporate life had come before my own family. How could I have missed three of my daughter’s first nine birthdays? Because I guess then business and corporate deals were more important to me.

But at almost 65, I have learned that it really doesn't matter anymore, so perhaps one of the joys of being 'old' is the ability to just be truthful and say it how it is, and to do - with the benefit of a lot of hard-life experience – what now really matters: Care and love for my family and to give to our granddaughter, what my own daughter desperately wanted back in 1993: My time.

And by-the-way, I know all the other songs at the nursery rhymes class in Cottesloe, and Ember thinks Granddad is just 'cool'.
Meanwhile, my daughter Lisa has gone off to book me a place in a nursing home after reading a draft of this story.

Ross B. Taylor AM is the president of the Perth-based Indonesia Institute; and a Granddad.

4th April 2016

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