“What are you going to do?” People would ask me. “Jump into the abyss.” I would answer, because I really had no idea. It was 1990 and I was finishing high school, a pivotal time in my life to make decisions about my future. I planned a trip to Australia to see family and continue my activist work. I was aware that we didn’t have much time left before our treatment of the environment would start to have serious consequences. We had lofty goals like planting a certain number of trees, protecting wilderness, and reducing carbon emissions, there were targets to achieve by the year 2000 and even bigger goals to reach by 2020.
We must have done something right because we’re still here, in much better shape than expected by my environmentalist cohort. Sure we have significant climate-related impacts, frequent forest and bushfires, droughts and floods and unpredictable weather, but it’s not as bad as expected. Because we did stuff, because we had big organisations led by visionary people who declared we’d achieve things by a certain time in the future. And we slowed down the rate of destruction. It hasn’t stopped, the threat hasn’t evaporated but our collective action made a difference.
I found a letter I wrote to myself back then, with a declaration of what I would do to make the world a better place and it reminded me of the goals we’d set to achieve by 2020. Then it occurred to me that next year, 2019 is the last year before 2020. It seemed like a good idea to dust off my goals and get cracking to achieve something of worth by 2020.
Back in 1990 I saw myself on the front lines of changemaking. I went on to do some radical stuff: protesting forest destruction at a pulp mill; supporting aboriginal land rights by locking down in the attorney general’s office and organising a couple of bank occupations when the excessive profits of financial institutions had become greater than many nations GPD.
Since that time, I have stepped back from the front lines, questioned everything and forged a new path in change leadership. My purpose is to change the face of leadership by helping changemakers be more effective in their efforts. This comes from years of seeing my own efforts have limited impact on the bigger picture and seeing a greater opportunity to leverage change, starting with changing myself.
Previously, I saw business, and specifically what was then referred to as “multinational corporations”, as evil. In questioning everything I believed, I started to see a path through business, and specifically, business for good, I became enamoured with the BCorp movement. An effort to rebuild trust in business by creating a mechanism for business to walk the talk and be measured and certified that they were of benefit to society. Often this was through a pursuit of the ‘triple bottom line’, to create value not just financially but also through social responsibility and sound environmental business practices.
In 2009, I started my own business and learned how hard it can be to make ends meet working for yourself, as well as how rewarding it can be to do work that is aligned with my values and purpose. It’s been a continual journey of learning and unlearning, being creative, finding solutions to problems and seeing opportunities. I’ve worked with some fantastic people and organisations and I have continually evolved and refined what I’m about as I grow my business. There have been times where I doubted my ability to make the difference I feel I’m here to make, and this has led to some dark times and a lot of reflection.
Today, I am stepping out of my slumber and my stuckness and for the first time in 4 or 5 years, I’m running an event that’s about my work and what I have learned and developed. A few years ago I had a goal to be asked by others to run workshops and deliver programs and I’ve achieved that goal. I’ve been working with CMY and the Plato Project which has been wonderful and I’ll continue to do that. But now I’m offering a workshop on Human Centred Leadership. This is an approach I’ve been developing for the past 4 years and this is the first time I’m offering it to the public.
The event will be in early March in Melbourne and will be an experiential learning environment for changemakers to build their leadership capacity and effectiveness. There will be a focus on the skills and practices of Human Centred Leadership and connecting to a sense of being powerful in pursuit of the change you’re here to make in the world. It’s a combination of practical and visionary, plus the opportunity to be in a room full of inspired changemakers. (For info and to book.)
It’s time to turn up the dial on making the difference we’re here to make because there’s still plenty of work to do and there are a lot of us who feel frustrated by how the world is and isn’t at this time in history. Let’s bring that together to form some group wisdom and draw strength from each other. If you want to know more about the workshop, stay tuned, I’ll be posting about it in the next few weeks. If you don’t want to miss it, you can connect to my community through my newsletter.