Undercover Boss

Undercover Boss

Do you reckon you could disguise yourself so well that people wouldn’t recognise you?

Have you ever watched the TV show Undercover Boss? It’s been a successful worldwide television franchise with local versions in over a dozen countries.

The idea is that the CEO of a company puts on a disguise, and they’re usually pretty dodgy disguises, then spends time undercover finding out what’s going on behind the scenes within their company.

Each episode features a high-ranking executive or the owner of a corporation going undercover as an entry-level employee in his or her own company. The executives alter their appearance and assume an alias and fictional back-story. The fictitious explanation given for the accompanying camera crew is that the executives are being filmed as part of a documentary about entry-level workers in a particular industry, or a competition with another individual with the winner getting a job with the company. They spend approximately one to two weeks undercover (one week being the norm in some editions, such as the U.S. version, and two weeks in some other versions, such as the Australian edition), working in various areas of their company’s operations, with different parts and in most cases a different location each day. They are exposed to a series of predicaments with amusing results, and invariably spend time getting to know the people who work in the company, learning about their professional and personal challenges.

At the end of their time undercover, the executives return to their true identity and request the employees they worked with individually to travel to a central location—often corporate headquarters. The bosses reveal their identity, and reward hard-working employees through promotion, or financial rewards; while other employees are given training, better working conditions, or, in extreme cases, termination. – Wiki

I’ve wondered why those programs draw us in. I think it’s because we recognise something inside ourselves in the people of the show. We see someone who has battled to keep going, facing all kinds of struggles, who is finally recognised. Finally someone understands their pain. The boss gives them a big hug and says I see what’s happening for you and I want to make things right.

Most of us aren’t just looking for recognition but when someone does see what’s really happening in our lives we feel somehow validated.

The interesting thing is the way that before the workers on Undercover Boss find out they’re working alongside the CEO they have all kinds of ideas about their management not caring, but once they actually meet them, they see something completely different.

I wonder if we truly realise that there is someone who sees us and who knows the struggles we’re facing. I wonder if we understand that this boss is actually the creator of everything yet he still cares deeply for us, so much so that he sacrificed everything to restore relationship with us.

This creator, in the person of Jesus says to us in the Bible, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

Whatever you’ve thought of this ‘boss’ up to this point, let me encourage you to get to know the one who knows you and wants to provide rest for you; deep rest that refreshes your soul.

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How much is enough?


It’s very likely that you feel that you could do with a few more dollars … then a few more … and several more after that. Having a few more dollars in our pockets and a few less unpaid bills piling up seems to be a very attractive idea.

But how much is enough?

John D. Rockefeller (1839 – 1937) is said to have had a fortune of around nine hundred million dollars. Measured in today’s dollars, his wealth would make him the richest person in the history of mankind. He was once asked how much money is enough, to which he answered, “one more dollar”. All he had still wasn’t enough. It wasn’t able to satisfy him. He always wanted more.

I found it quite a contrast to hear Dick Smith’s point of view in a recent interview on ABC TV. He said he didn’t have a desire to keep earning more and more money. Of course he has made a lot of money through a variety of businesses but he has come to the point of realising that continuing to chase the next dollar is a hollow pursuit.

It’s amazing how people don’t understand that. They think if you’re a successful businessman you must want to make more money.

I don’t want to make any more money. If I did, I would have stuck to electronics.

I could’ve become a billionaire, but no, I wanted to spend time with my family, to go adventuring, to put something back in, which I learnt from the scouts, and all of those things I’ve been so lucky to do. – Dick Smith

I remember research from about a decade back which said that only 1 in 20 Australian millionaires considered themselves prosperous. They said they couldn’t afford the things they needed and felt they had to make more and more money. Unfortunately, that attitude is likely to mean that they’ll never be satisfied with what they have, no matter how much their income rises.

I don’t always agree with Dick Smith but I reckon he’s got it right this time. Yes, he does have significant wealth already but he has identified those things that he wants to spend his life on like family, adventuring and putting something back. More than identifying them, he’s taken steps to prioritise those things over simply accumulating more wealth. He’s realised that one more dollar won’t be enough if he loses touch with what really matters to him.

I’ve heard people who chase after money say that it’s only for a season. They say they just want to get enough money for this or that and then they can slow things down a little and enjoy life. I’ve seen those ‘seasons’ extended time and time again while the things that should matter are pushed further and further into the background, often disappearing altogether.

Can I encourage you to decide what it is that you consider to be really important and then order your life accordingly. Not plan to make time for things that really matter further down the track but live like they matter today. Because if you don’t live like they really matter today, you might need to face the reality that they don’t actually matter to you at all.

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The Real Me

Robert Redford

Do you know me … I mean really know me … or do you only know the me I want you to know? Is there a difference or disconnect between who I am and who you think I am?

Does anyone know the real you or only the you that you like to present to others?

I once heard a story about veteran Hollywood actor Robert Redford. Looking online I’ve seen a few variations on the story but they all involve him walking to an elevator and having a fan ask him a question to which he responded with a very interesting statement.

Robert Redford was walking through a hotel one day. A woman saw him and followed him to the elevator.

“Are you the real Robert Redford?” she asked him with excitement.

As the elevator doors closed, he replied, “Only when I am alone!”

A pretty profound answer to a simple question.

We get to present ourselves in many different ways, especially with the rise in social media. We can have people believe all kinds of things about us depending on the way we act in public, but does the person we are in public match the person we are in private?

I need to ask myself that question. Do my thoughts and actions when I’m alone match what I say I believe? Do I say one thing but act differently when I have time by myself? It’s a fairly good indicator of whether my life is on track or whether I need to reassess some areas of life.

The real ‘us’ is the person we are when we’re alone.

It’s a mark of integrity when there is consistency in who we are across a range of settings. The difficulty is that even with the best of intentions we’re not always going to get it right every time. There’s always going to be a battle between what we want to be and what we are. We can’t be perfect because there is a spiritual battle going on.

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. – Romans 7:15-20 (ESV)

Have you experienced that battle for yourself? You want to be live in a way that’s consistent with what you believe but time and time again you fall short. You’ve tried ‘will power’ and you know that it’s not enough. All the trying in the world won’t change us from the inside.

That’s why we need God’s help to bring the person we are when we’re alone, the real us, closer to the person we portray in public.

So who is the real you? Is it only the person you are when you’re alone or are you able to show the world who you really are?

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Mother’s Day 2016

Rodney Mum 1984

(This is a slightly updated post based on my what I wrote for Mother’s Day last year.)

I don’t remember anything remarkable about the last Mother’s Day we shared with mum before the illness that consigned her to hospital for the rest of her days, but then we weren’t expecting it to be the last. As far as we knew there’d be many more days to celebrate mum.

Mum’s last couple of years were spent in hospital after suffering a brain aneurysm. For most of that time she was unable to communicate with us. Occasionally she was able to say a word or two but there were other signs that would show us that she knew a lot of what was going on. Mum was pretty much paralysed so even making movement to communicate was difficult.

There were several times that more bleeding in her brain would cause doctors to tell us that mum only had hours or maybe days to live. We would all begin to grieve our loss only to find the days turning into weeks or months until there was another medical setback and the whole process would begin again. You can imagine the kind of emotional toll that took on each of us, not to mention how it would have been for mum who was trapped inside a body that no longer did what it was meant to do.

Rodney Mum 1964When mum finally left this earth I experienced a mixture of relief, sadness and joy. There was relief that she didn’t have to suffer any longer, joy that she was now enjoying paradise but still the immense sadness of losing someone I loved so very, very much.

I’ve seen several more Mother’s Days come and go without a mum than I have with a mother. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a sad day for me but Mother’s Day always brings moments of reflection among the moments of celebrating what an incredibly wonderful mother my own children have and celebrating with Pauline’s mum.

I know that for many, who have more recently lost a mother, the pain is just a little more raw today and I do hope that if that’s the case for you, you’ll be able to recall some wonderful memories and think about the influence your mum has had on you. I hope that in years to come the day will be a celebration of the memories your mother has left you.

On the 28th of February, 1987, my mother, Margaret Sadie Olsen, passed away at the age of 66. I was just 23 years old when mum died. Mum was 43 when I was born.

There is so much that I wish she could have shared over the last few decades. Mum wasn’t around to see me cycle across Australia for the first time, just 8 months after she passed away. She never lived to see me realise my childhood dream of working in radio.

By the time I met Pauline, mum had already been gone for close to 5 years. She never got to see her youngest child marry the woman he loves. Mum never got to hold Emily or James in her arms. How I wish she was still here to see our wonderful family. I desperately wish that Emily and James could have met their Grandma Olsen and that Pauline could have spent time with her mother-in-law.
Rodney Dad Mum
Mum never heard me tell stories of my trips to places like India, Canada, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea or Bangladesh and never had to sit at home and worry when I had to evacuate from Haiti during food riots several years ago. Although she never got there, mum had an interest in travelling to Africa. I so wish I could tell her about my journey to Ethiopia and Rwanda a couple of years ago. She was long gone before I took up the challenge of working for Compassion to see children released from poverty around the world.

She never experienced the thrill of seeing Emily and James born and then grow up to perform so well in many areas of life. Mum wasn’t very tall so both Emily and James are taller than she was. They could have playfully leaned on their Grandma just as I used to do when I was younger.

I know that there are many significant events in the lives of my four siblings that mum has missed too. There have been highs and lows along the way but all of them would have been quite different if mum had been around to share them.

I know that the person I am today is very much a product of who mum was. I value the influence she was and continues to be in my life.

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Soundtrack of My Life – This Head I Hold

Soundtrack of my LifeThis is one of a regular series of articles highlighting some of the music that has played a part in my life.

You’ll find a range of songs from old to new. You’ll probably find music that has been part of the soundtrack of your life too.

You can also check out some of the other songs that make up the soundtrack of my life.

This Head I Hold – Electric Guest

Electric Guest has only released one album so far, 2012’s Mondo, but there is a second on the way. They finished recording in February so it’s just a matter of time until we hear some new music from them.

I have a vast music collection with many hundreds of albums. Mondo by Electric Guest is certainly up there among my favourites.

Electric Guest is a Los Angeles-based band formed in 2011. The group comprises Asa Taccone and Matthew “Cornbread” Compton. Brothers Todd and Tory Dahlhoff play bass and keyboards/guitar, respectively, in the touring version of the band. – Wiki

I’m a big fan of their sound and I’m a strong believer that friends don’t let friends go through life without introducing them to Electric Guest’s music.

Here’s the ‘out there’ video for This Head I Hold, a great single from Mondo. You may have heard it behind a TV commercial or two but listen all the way through and enjoy it as the great song it is.

I’d encourage you to get involved too. Let me know about some of the songs that are etched in your mind. What are the tunes that bring back a flood of memories every time their opening notes start cranking out on your stereo? Are there songs you love for their music and others that speak deeply through their lyrics?

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