Sunday, 30 May 2010


There are heroic sacrifices that inspire and embed themselves in history but then there are the hidden sacrifices that don't necessarily make the headlines.

Remember last week I wrote about my mate who loves coaching cricket but dislikes making speeches? His name is Brad. I explained that he had to do an extended speech about his side this year because they won the premiership... wasn't really keen to speak but he asked the Under 13's to cherish their victory and said that he had been fortunate to play in two Grand Finals - one at the start, one at the end of his senior cricket career. On both occasions though, Brad was on the losing side. He asked the players to understand that premierships may take a long time to come around again if at all.

Brad, as I said, is passionate about cricket and so he still plays in a 'Masters' competition for guys over 40. His side made the Grand Final this year... but the game was scheduled on the same day his Under 13 side were in their Grand Final. He chose to be with the team he coached and you guessed it... his Masters team won the premiership. Brad has still never played in a cricket premiership of any type as a result.

At the time he gave the speech to his Under 13's he asked them to cherish their win but he never told them about the sacrifice he had made. Thought it might be nice to tell you via this blog.

It won't make the front page but that is the sort of sacrifice that inspires me.

Thanks for taking the 'Time & Space' to read this.

Bill Jennings

Sunday, 23 May 2010


Here I sit waiting for my son's soccer game to start. I can see buckets of generosity out there on the field

... there is Maria, team manager - she organises the roster for who brings the snakes and jelly beans for the kids' half time glucose hit.

... there's Joe - coach of the Moreland City Under 14B's. He's been training these players since early February - two or three sessions a week and here we are at match day Sunday.

Volunteers give generously of their time and I think this creates a space for some of those magic mentoring moments to happen for kids. I've just chatted with a couple of other dads and collectively, we are noticing this. Sure the kids learn football skills but they also get the added value of: being part of a team; working to succeed as a group and encouraging others. One dad said it really well, "all this stuff helps a kid to become a good adult".

A good friend of mine has a passion for cricket combined with a massive fear of public speaking. He coaches one of our local junior teams and each season he dreads the end of year presentation night because he has to say something about the award recipients. Just his luck this year - his team won the premiership... every kid gets a premiership medal and gets individually presented by the coach! So my friend tells me how he prepared really carefully so as not to freeze up as he talks.

He shouldn't have worried - his care and passion shone through. He got each player up, looked them in the eye and spoke directly to them. Each player received a public declaration of his talent and special contribution to the team.

"I liked the way you curbed your natural aggression Ben, in the semi-final... we'd lost a few quick wickets and you played a safe dead bat for the sake of the team."

"Simon - you are so positive... you encourage everyone in the field."

"Peter, you never complained when it was your turn to miss out on a bat."

Something special said about every kid. You could see their heads being held higher, their chests pump out. At the end of each carefully thought out presentation, he shakes the player's hand and says... "See you back at the club next year".

Why wouldn't they want to come back with a coach like theirs?

Hey - if you want to help shape the adults of tomorrow. Volunteer for something in your kid's world. It will make you feel good and you will put a great memory in the vault for your kid.

I go and shake my friend's hand, say what an honour it was to watch him honour each player and I quietly tell him... "you're a good speaker mate!"

Thanks for taking the Time & Space to read this.

Bill Jennings

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Everyday respect

I popped in to an old workplace yesterday. I sought out an old friend and colleague, Peter - he didn't know I was visiting.

It was the wait at his office door that is the inspiration for this short post. Peter is in one of those front line 'House Leader' roles... following up on kids, keeping an eye out for their welfare, keeping them in line. Perhaps for a minute or three, I stood at his door and watched him carry out one of the dozens of interactions he would undertake with his charges each day. He was asking about the unexplained absences of a student.

You see, my friend doesn't know I'm there.

I am struck by the respect he shows to this kid. He doesn't give him an easy road but Peter's respect is paramount all of the way through the discussion. The boy responds equally well and I think partly, he is responding well because he is being listened to. This was a privilege to witness.

What are the chances that someone, without your knowledge, will see you committing small acts of kindness today?

Thanks for taking the 'Time & Space' to read this.

Bill Jennings

Monday, 10 May 2010

Press send - get it in

I'm sitting here, late in the evening. Just seen a movie with my wife 'I Love You Too'. Written and co-produced by Melbourne comedian, Peter Helliar. It had some wonderful Melbourn-ish references. I know people hang signs expressing loving messages off road overpasses in other parts of the world.. but it does happen quite a bit here in Melbourne.

What I love about the movie is that it wasn't perfect. It didn't quite knit together but it had more than a few flecks of gold in it. It is going to be very hard not to seem patronising here but Helliar has gone and done something a stretch beyond what I thought it was that he does. He broke out of the mould of his national persona and made something that can be shipped to the world beyond Australia's shores. It has got some genuinely touching moments... just see it for the scene where Charlie, a photographer (played by Peter Dinklage of 'Death at Funeral Fame') prompts a memory as he talks to, asks questions of a senior couple. He tries to capture in one shot, the years of love they have built up.

I've really been thinking alot recently about Seth Godin's concept of things being 'shipped'. If you want to get stuff done, it seems fairly logical but you have got to get stuff done... that means pressing send or 'post this blog' and not worry about things not being perfect. It doesn't mean, 'be deliberately sloppy'... or that is it is OK to always do things in a half baked fashion. It does mean though that it is so important not to be frozen by the fear that what you do is not going to be perfect. I've read a couple of reviews of 'I Love You Too' - one gave it a bit of a bake. I say, more power to Helliar for getting the movie out there. He published.

My son plays soccer for a local team. I help out with some things on the junior club committee. The other day we applied for a community grant... it wasn't absolutely ready. A couple of the pieces of information we were asked to provide weren't ready. I just put 'xxxxxxxx' in that box on the e-form and sent it anyway.

Guess what - we got the grant!

As I write this in our home office, my daughter is here too on her computer pleading that I go to bed soon as the sound of my typing fingers, heavy on the keyboard are driving her nuts. She has been working on a history essay that has to be in by midnight. She thought she had until the end of this week. There was a choice there, ask for an extension or get it done. A few moments ago I heard a really compact summary of the battle a group of women took on to get the vote in the early twentieth century... she has been chipping away for a few hours now and it sounds good. She just pressed 'send' (got it in at 11.59pm) and in a moment I will click 'publish post'.

Thanks for taking some 'Time & Space' to read this.

Bill Jennings

Friday, 7 May 2010

A Mother's Day Gift

It's Mother's Day on Sunday in this corner of the planet.

Earlier in the week,one of the very first schools in Melbourne that took on the Time & Space programs had their annual Mother & Son night. They always schedule around Mother's Day. Two older students, who both happen to be called 'Luke', were part of the 'panel of experts' that we set up for each program - they help set the scene for the interactions that happen between the participating mums and boys. So the two Lukes were there without their own mums that night. I reckon, they both provided an extraordinary example to these newest boys of the school who came along with their mum (or aunty, grandma).

Asked to find and describe a special quality in their mum, 'Luke 1' said first, "I found it pretty hard to limit it to just one quality". His face contorted as if to show just how tough a struggle it was to sum up what his mum means to him. He zeroed in on his mum as his personal 'encourag-er'. She had given him the confidence to have a go at things. 'Luke 1' clearly appreciated this.

'Luke 2' said that the word that best sums up his mum is 'selfless'... he then reeled off a litany of traits and actions that captured this special quality. I was struck by his openness. 'Luke 2's' face shone as he spoke... it was reflected right back at him as I saw how moved the mums present were... a couple of gentle tears, some glowing smiles. You could hear the thoughts of those women present... "Your mum would be so proud of you".

Luke 1 and 2... there is a lot of discussion about role-modeling today. It is often tagged to negatives, associated with the celebrity cult. You two blokes showed the younger boys an authentic way of expressing sincere appreciation and you are only three years older than them.

And whilst your mums were not actually there in the school library, you gave them a gift. You took time to carefully consider one special quality amongst, no doubt, the many that you see in your mum. You took time to think about her.

I know at least one of your mums knew that you talking about her that night... how special do think she felt that you were telling an audience what was good about her.

So following your lead, Lukes 1 & 2, let's all consider one special quality in our mum... and let her know.

Hey mum (yep, that's you Joan!) - it is your 'thoughtfulness' for mine, evidenced by the text you sent me last night!

And what about you, reader of this post? Even if she is not around now... take the Time & Space to consider one special quality in your mum and send a little expression of appreciation for that quality out to the universe.

Thanks for reading and happy Mothers Day.

Bill Jennings from 'Time & Space'