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The good, the bad and the ugly of driving a sign written vehicle


Are you willing to let others see the real you?

I was bemused as to why our daughter wouldn’t take up our offer of using one of the company cars while hers was undergoing repair.

“Exactly what is wrong with the car?”

“It’s got sign writing all over it! I’d have to drive like a saint!”

Without dwelling too long on what her ‘driving like the devil’ is like, I began to reflect on the transparency that had threatened my daughter’s usual anonymity on the road.

Her loss of anonymity as a road user was intolerable and simply not an option! I do wonder how all of our driving behaviours would change if we drove vehicles that clearly identified who and what we were.

Imagine a LED display on each end of our cars that presented key information about us? Mine would read:
‘Annah Stretton, mother of two, director and philanthropist’

OMG! My driving would certainly become more circumspect immediately!

Taking this a step further I began to wonder if increased transparency applied more broadly to our lives would modify the way we live and behave? Would we be able to traverse a normal day with everyone seeing and knowing exactly who we were, what we were doing and thinking?

Total transparency would, I believe, inevitably lead to social chaos. To have your every thought and opinion made available to everyone around you would not allow for the ‘social privacy’ we all depend on in our private and working lives.

That’s not to say that more transparency would benefit our communities.

I just wonder how the following actions would have been modified, or even eradicated, if those involved had their behaviours made totally transparent to the greater communities they represent?

Would so many politicians be fighting for their political and personal lives right now? Or, would some politicians be heading towards a forced ‘retirement’ if their actions were viewed with greater transparency?

So there is no doubt that the more accountable we are the more quickly we would modify our behaviours!

I am also certain that a balanced application of transparency will lead to positive change and growth for us all!

Many great businesses already apply strong levels of transparency in their reporting to investors and employees. Strong leaders display open and clear agendas, seeking feedback and engagement from those around them.

Capable and loving parents talk openly with their children, taking time to explain the idiosyncrasies of life, sharing their learnt life skills with humility and grace.

Strong thriving relationships rely on couples who can openly share their joys, fears and dreams.

Hidden agendas very quickly destroy personal partnerships.

And, let’s not forget how essential personal transparency is! Are we covering up those personal flaws and ignoring our own weaknesses? Accepting who we really are is perhaps the most important act of transparency for ourselves and for those around us!

As I reset my compass for 2014, I do so with a healthy respect for acknowledging the power of transparency. Given my existing visibility in the public arena I have already accepted just how transparent my life has become but I can easily see how my business and family behaviours could benefit from a stronger application of even further transparency.

My challenge to you all then is to act in a manner that assumes those around you know who you are and what you believe in. Act and speak with a strong level of conviction. Take ownership of your family, your community and your contributions at work.

Annah Stretton is the founder of the Annah Stretton fashion label and is a wildly successful New Zealand entrepreneur, author and speaker. With an online following of over 210,000, over 30 retail stores, 3 books and a strong business leadership programme under her belt, Annah frequently appears in the media and on stage discussing everything from entrepreneurialism, living fearlessly, females in the work force, right through to her philanthropic efforts which provide substantial support to a very wide range of charitable groups and organisations across New Zealand. In September, 2013 Annah released her third book, Rock the Boat. She has also been the recipient of the coveted Veuve Clicquot Award.