Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Reflections of a boy biker

I did everything I could to fit into any gang that would have me in the 70’s. Long hair, unwashed, jeans full of holes, leather jacket with studs and a 750cc Triumph Bonneville motorcycle with extra loud exhaust pipes. I left school at 16 with poor grades from my exams but managed to talk my way into a job. Today my friends are mostly university professors or company directors. Punk Rock is a major feature on our iPods, we exchange old stories of teenage sex, drugs, parties and run-ins with the police that surprise most kids today, mostly because that is not what they would expect of “successful” adults.

That suggests two things two me:
1)  You never know who these boys could become.
2)  They never know who they could become.

I got a couple of breaks. An older prototype wireman at an electronics firm I worked for had been a motorcyclist and his son a drug addict. He was tough but compassionate. He never judged me for my lifestyle, he never acted like a parent, he bought me beer when I was underage and told me obscene jokes whilst teaching me the trade. It was my first real adult relationship.

At the same company the Technical Director gave me my big chance. He had been a motorcyclist and a 60’s “Rocker” enjoying fighting with the Teds on Brighton seafront. He did not see me as just another oik on a motorbike. He saw me as a comrade to join him in an internal company revolution to improve business process's and quality control. He became my next mentor and I have never looked back.

Thank you Doug “Mac” McWilliams and John Freeman of Audix Ltd for some of the most critical experiences of my life between 1978 and 1984.

James Carroll
Founder & CEO THOR Photomedicine Ltd
Fellow Royal Society of Medicine
Assoc Member Institute of Physics

Monday, 8 December 2008

The downturn may help build community

The up-side of the economic downturn is that we are being forced to reassess our priorities and look at our values. This may push us to focus on truly important things like family, friends and our community. 

My hope is that we may come out of this downturn not only with a bit of sanity in how our financial institutions are run (and even how much our footballers are paid), but also a realisation that people are more important than material things. 

By taking the time to relate to each other as human beings, instead of dwelling on our fears and worries, we will see the best in others and hopefully build a stronger sense of community.   

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Male role models

This morning I watched Barack Obama and John McCain give their speeches when the result of the US presidential election became clear. I was impressed. The two men behaved like statesmen - both acknowledging the strengths of the other, neither allowing themselves or others to blame or to crow, each prepared to put their differences behind them and look to the future and the common good.

These are the kind of role models our young men need. But not just in some far off land. The people who really give our boys a model for manhood are those they spend time with in daily life - parents, teachers, relations, coaches, youth workers and neighbours. By exhibiting the behaviour they want from the next generation, these men show boys how to be a man. It is they who provide role models for our boys - much more than Barack Obama or John McCain.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Are we over-reacting?

When talking to a group of kids about what would make their community a better place to live, I asked them what adults could do to make it better. One of the boys said "Don't over-react when we do something wrong. Tell us off, but don't make it into a big deal."

That's good advice. As adults, we often over-react and blow things out of proportion. Part of growing up is getting up to mischief and doing things that adults disapprove of. We all did it and so will every generation to come. Just as our elders did when we were young, adults need to make sure kids have boundaries - but let's not blow things out of proportion, or believe that this generation is any worse than any other.