29 July 2020

Why I love this bastard Dave Blackwell

And other bastards like him.

Sometimes life serves up a pile of shite, and it affects everyone differently. The shite comes in many forms, and impacts in many ways.

Some of the most interesting people I know have faced the most incredible adversity, and I have interviewed some of them in our podcast series Stuff that Matters Now. Often this shite appears at critical times in your formative years, and sets off a response that can be really hard to fathom by loved ones around you.

Personally I wouldn’t be doing the work at Collective Intelligence if it wasn’t for the adversity I faced as a kid. In fact I wouldn’t have the personal capacity if it were not for that adversity.

But back to that bastard Dave.

This month he features on the podcast:

I wanted to find out how he was coping with the COVID-19 impact as CEO of Spidertracks. As it turns out – pretty well really. Then thirty minutes in he starts talking about his battle with addiction and the 12 Step programme he is going through.

Now if you listen to it, you’ll hear a very confident CEO talking, and a humble man explaining his journey. But after the interview he was disturbed and raw. Together, but raw. He told me he wasn’t sure he wanted anyone to hear it or not. He asked for his trusted teammate Claire Bond to listen to it, and if she was okay with it. Luckily for us Claire said, “This podcast needs to be aired, you would actually be robbing people of something if you didn’t.”

It is a great listen. Why? Because it’s real life and it is so true for so many, in different ways.

As a parent, we want to create a wonderful life for our kids. Keep them out of harm’s way. Give them a better life than we had. It’s all quite natural. But in reality, it’s the adversity that moulds us. So how do we bring kids up to be resilient? A lack of adversity is definitely not good for them.

As a father I saw my role, rightly or wrongly, to be part resilience-builder for my kids. Toughest bloody job in the world being a parent. I was a fucking expert before I had kids. And now I feel I know nothing of parenting. Proud of my kids, but did I do a good job as a father? No idea.

But back to that bastard Dave.

I love him for his courage and passion to keep going and face his demons. He is his own person, and gives a shit about creating a better world in his own way.

Yep, he would have created havoc for those around him over the years. His siblings would have worn it perhaps. Loved ones? Who knows, but he’s getting through on his own terms.

I get asked from time to time, “Who do you admire most of the people you have worked with at Collective Intelligence?” That’s easy. Reformed addicts. They have been to the bottom of the pit, and come out to face the world again. They are great to work with, because they have done their work, and continue to do their work every day. There’s a lot we can learn from them.

And here’s a thought that’s bobbing around in my head. In this new world that is in front of us, there’s a new reality emerging: leaders who do not understand their privileged backgrounds will be left behind. Unrecognised privilege will become a huge handbrake for leaders. Another reason Dave is so good at what he does. But more on this in the future.

Right now, I’m grappling with the idea of writing a book about the learnings from working with this crazy, courageous community of people at Collective intelligence. The title of the book will be something like, “No one’s got their shit together, and that’s okay!” One of our facilitators, Sarah Tocker, also wants to add, “It’s all a fucken facade”…

But back to that bastard Dave.

He will definitely feature in the book, because I love bastards like him – and bastardess’s too.

Ian Harvey (Harv)


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