Do our politicians care about us?

Its pretty easy  to think about the world and be cynical. I know at my age I can certainly write a list of the people who have let me down.

But we all know selling despair, ruminating  on the people you wished hadn’t crossed your path and on what could have been gets us nowhere. On the other hand selling hope and focusing on a bright future by engaging and working with the people who share your vision keeps the fire burning in our bellies

I keep the fire burning in my belly by surrounding myself with exciting young people. Young people in schools, young farmers and young activists for social and environmental justice .

Last Friday night  I attended the NSW ACT Young Achiever Awards to support Young Farming Champions Anika Molesworth and Joshua Gilbert who were both finalists in the Environment and Sustainability Category   

Anika Molesworth

Anika Molesworth Winner of  the Environment and Sustainability Award

Millennials and the generation before them don’t exactly  get the best wrap and are often described as self absorbed .  Reading the bios of the finalists in all categories  certainly drew everyone’s attention to a group of young people and their support networks who are turning  the self absorbed label on its head.

Why theses young people do what they do  and how they do it is both fascinating and inspiring.   Last year’s winner in the opening speech said something that gave me food for serious reflection. This young lady is a very passionate member of AYCC who lobbied their peers to sign up and vote at the last election. She quoted some phenomenal numbers as a testimony to their success.

She expressed her motivation by saying  something along the lines of “politicians don’t care about young people and young people don’t care about politicians”. She went on to say part of the mission of AYCC is to show young people how important it is to care about politicians and what they do and don’t stand for and to vote for the one’s that align with their values

Do politicians care about young people.? Do they care about us?  I think they do but I can certainly understand why people in general wonder what they do stand for. How do we fix a system where it appears that too many of our politicians only care about the needs of big business and the powerful people and not enough about the quality of life and well being of everyday Australians?.

AYCC have got it right. It’s up to everyday Australians to hold our politicians accountable and that starts with making sure we have the right politicians in office and support fiercely the one’s who align with our values.

Congratulations to Anika Molesworth, a fierce campaigner for #youthinag and the viability  and resilience of Australian farmers and social and environmental justice

Anika’s acceptance speech – its easy to see why she is in demand as a keynote speaker 

 

 

Happy hens – a question of ethics

Tim Eyes (5)

I recently read The Circle which I note is being released as a movie later this year. You can find Margaret Attwood’s review of the book here  .

I am also watching ‘Continuum” on Netflix – not exactly riveting television but definitely  some very interesting reflections on ethics and what the future could look like depending on the decisions we make in the here and now .

“Look closely at the present you are constructing. It should look like the future you are dreaming.” …… Alice Walker

We are being asked to make many of the decisions now that are being played out in The Circle and Continuum and in movies like Eye in the Sky 

The Happy Hens caged egg scenario is the current example. Its a tough world out there for the hen whether she lives in a cage, a barn or gets to graze on pasture.

Life is risky for her.Being in the situation where I do know the stats – there are genuine reasons to house hens in cages – lets not beat up the farmers who do this well.

Are caged hens happy – would you be happy living in a cage?. Your kidding you say yet lots of us do live in “cages” in fact we probably all do, some more than others.

HK-towerblock-sj

Too many humans live in cages like structures in our modern world 

We have many restrictions on our everyday lives and everyday those restrictions increase and others are making our decisions for us.

For me its time to stop demonising the farmer and the system and get comfortable about the choices we make everyday. Most of the time there are no right and wrong choices just the best choices at that point in time.

The future isn’t a place we just get to go – it is a place we get to create.  Together.

Little vs Big Agriculture – are objective views lacking??

grist

Foodies I need help.

The Picture You in Agriculture team has paired up with the Intrepid Landcare tribe to create and deliver a program that builds on the success of the Art4agriculture initiatives – The Archibull Prize and the Young Farming Champions to help young people in schools get their heads around the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and take local action

Schools participating in the Kreative Koalas program ( note landing page only at this stage)  will partner with Young Sustainability Ambassadors (Expressions of Interest open here  ) and investigate and reflect on seven of the UN Sustainable Development Goals

goals_ppt_16x9

We are finding ‘Responsible Production’ tricky. Coming from generations of primary producers that these days would be seen as Big Agriculture, my mission is to show the Little vs Big Agriculture story is not a binary argument – Good vs Bad or Romantic vs Reality or Sustainable vs Non-Sustainable or Non-Sustainable vs Sustainable but a continuum. I am looking for objective views and some great cases studies on both Little and Big Ag.

Landline is an obvious choice for content but no-one has yet identified OZ food bloggers/journalists of the likes of  Tom Philpot from Mother Jones, Nathanael Johnson from Grist  and  Helena Evich from Politico for me

Do we have food journalists that write level-headed assessments of Australian agricultural systems in plain English?  If the answer is yes – please share them with me

HT Richard Heath and Dr Heather Bray

Finding your WHY is vital

Changemakers fascinate me. People who wake up everyday and want to change the world or at the very least their part of the world.

the-day-you-find-out-why

I am particularly fascinated by young changemakers or as they call themselves ‘disruptors’. Young people who are being a revolutionary – spotting something that needs to change and not being afraid to turn things upside down in order to achieve it.

Yesterday I got an opportunity to sit in on a roundtable in Canberra consisting of some of Australia’s most engaged young changemakers in the sustainability space.

The exercise that they did  that blew my mind involved mapping their personal and professional development journey.

Identifying the moments in time.

The:

  • inspiration points
  • pivot points

Identifying the key people on the the journey.

The:

  • champions
  • mentors
  • critics/naysayers
  • connectors

These young people were all under 35. They all had a strong community spirit and involvement in community from a very young age. Many identified being inspired by a guest speaker at their school. They all viewed life as an opportunity to grab with both hands.   And they had all changed the world. The world was a better place because they were in it

One thing that resonated with me was the impact of the political landscape on many of these young people. Young changemakers choosing career pathways based on who was leading our country at the time. Too often it was lack of inspiration from the top of the political tree being the pivot point in their journey.

Yesterday was definitely one of the highlights of my life – thank you  #YoungAustralians committed to a #brighterfuture

jane-goodall-quote

 

 

 

Speaking up, burning bridges and the point of no return

I thought I would share leadership guru Zoe Routh’s newsletter with you today. As a person who does speak up but has often has found themselves at the ‘point of no return’ I do admire people who can both speak up and drive change without burning their bridges.

Looking forward to getting that balance myself but then again

Burning-bridges.

 

Why Don’t We Speak Up?

“What do you think, Zoë?”

Holy crap. This was it. I had to say something.

My colleague had just thrown me a bone in a meeting. He knew I was peeved about the contract and was quietly stewing in frustration.

And not saying anything.

It was only when he set me up directly that I sat up, and spoke up.

It wasn’t easy. I got emotional. Apparently I cared more than I thought. And I felt better for it afterwards.

Speaking the truth always feels better. Eventually.

So why don’t we speak up? Why do we keep quiet when we’ve got something to say? An opinion to express, an idea to share, a criticism to make, a concern to raise?

Here are some reasons I’ve found in my own life, and work with my clients:

We don’t want to hurt people’s feelings.

We don’t want to rock the boat and risk our status in the group.

We’re afraid we’ll go past the point of no return and the unknown looms as a menacing void.

We’re afraid of the can of worms that might be unleashed, and we don’t like conflict.

We’re afraid we’ll be judged. Or rejected. Or hurt. Or dismissed.

In essence, we’re afraid of feeling bad.

So we shut down, shut up, and shrink.

And that’s the worst kind of feeling bad.

When we don’t speak our truth, our soul wilts a little, our heart grows a little more brittle, and the emotional pot goes on simmer.

Not speaking our truth is the worst kind of personal damage we can do to ourselves. It’s the deepest form of pain. So we numb it with alcohol, cigarettes, coffee, overwork, over exercise, food, or any other kind of distraction that keeps us from feeling into the depths of our inner world.

But when we do speak up, when we share what is going on in our heart, on the other side of the unknown mess that may ensue, we have a chance of a bigger horizon. We show ourselves and others that we matter, that we are worthy, that the stories we tell ourselves, even if they are wrong, matter. They matter because they help us connect better to ourselves and each other.

In Rising Strong, Brené Brown says, “I believe that vulnerability – the willingness to show up and be seen with no guarantee of outcome – is the only path to more love, belonging, and joy.”

The equation looks like this:

Truth – – – MESS – – – Feel better.

Speaking up is a leadership moment that matters. It can rattle cages, upset the apple cart, ruffle feathers, and every other metaphor for sh*tstorm, but speaking the truth is the song of the soul.

What helps is having a tether to our values and the willingness to walk in integrity. I have an intention that I want to model what I teach others, to embody what I know to be true, no matter how challenging.

So when my colleague looked to me and asked, “What do you think?” I took a deep breath, and spoke.

What calls you to speak the truth? What keeps you from speaking it? And what, if anything, will you change?

Zoe Routh

p.s. Don’t forget to register for the Grace Under Fire webinar series that starts next Wednesday. Register here: http://innercompass.com.au/grace-fire-webinar-series/

Identity crisis and stereotypes – farmers with akubras and bandy legs

cool urban dude with surfboard

Image credit

The Art4Agriculture team have created a complementary program model to The Archibull Prize that will allow us to roll the program out nationally. The students participating in the program will be investigating and reflecting on the theme

Feeding, Clothing and Powering a Hungry Nation is a shared responsibility

with the word ‘power’ referring to farmers potential to provide the community with renewable energy sources

FarmerAnnimation_Man

So of course we needed  a logo and I briefed  the graphic designer who happens to be male and he comes back with

13306_FarmerIllustration_Page_1

Okay so this was James stereotype of a farmer – love the bandy legs

Okay James farmers can be women too

So James sends me this

13306_FarmerIllustration_Page_2

So girl farmers have bandy legs too !!!!!!

So then I said OK lets make it a partnership and James comes back with this

Archibull Connections

then we thought about it some more and we thought lets have the farmers on one side of the plug and people from the city on the other

So how should I brief James?

What does a stereotypical urbanite look like. Does he/she evoke images of super cool people with 9 to 5  corporate careers who surf after work and party on the weekends ??????

Update 

The sage minds on twitter have delivered me a solution – farmer Gus Whyte has proposed a salute to the middle man.  I will ask James to replace the farmers with  a tradie wearing hi viz. But still have the problem of sex and ethnicity

Tradie wearing hi viz

Further reading

Miranda column: The glamorous face of farming

Some serious food for thought  –  Identify crisis – the default setting 

What my readers are saying

Everyman need a canoe

Everyman needs a canoe ht JK

Active wear

According to TE our cities are full of people who look like this

The danger behind the hypnotic trance of leadership stereotypes

I watched the announcement of the pairing of Sarah Pallin and Donald Trump on TV last night and I will be polite and say it didn’t exactly make my day.

As an earlier post this week from me indicated I have predicted that 2016 is the year that our leaders in Australian agriculture will be required to step up to the plate in a way they have never been tested before and if we can’t find this decade’s Rick Farley Australian agriculture is looking at irreparable brand damage    

‘When did we last see a peak representative body deliberately and strategically reach out to its perceived opponents, seek to understand their position fully, and commit to work together to find a way through? ‘ Professor Andrew Campbell  Source 

Let’s have a look at how Leadership Experts in the US are reflecting on leadership selection  after yesterday’s “political marriage” in hell. In this case Will Marre

The Most Common Reason We Select Lousy Leaders

Lousy Leaders

Source

About this time in most political campaigns a majority of voters begin to look at who is running and say, “Is this the best we can do?”  Seriously, out of 335 million citizens, are the people up on stage really the most qualified candidates to lead the most powerful nation in the world?  Are you kidding me?

There are many reasons why the most qualified people don’t ever end up running for President or even leading major business organizations.  But I believe the root cause is our collective judgment falling under the hypnotic trance of leadership stereotypes.

Harvard Research reported that the book Compelling People confirms that our “fast brains” prefer leaders who are assertive, competitive, decisive and tough.  Our superficial thinking is that these leaders will protect us.  The problem is our “fast brains” are quite stupid. Our quick judgments are primarily ruled by primitive emotions and ingrained prejudices that lead us to foolish opinions.  Our smart brain needs to take time to analyze facts, test claims and exercise wisdom. However, using our smart brain takes a lot of time and energy that we mostly exhaust getting through our daily lives leaving us vulnerable to bad judgment and emotional bias when it comes to choosing leaders. This is a problem. A big one.

Our bias for mistaking confidence and competitiveness for leadership starts at a very early age. A brand new research report from Harvard graduate school of education, “Leaning Out,” confirms that by high school 40% of boys and even 23% of girls believe that male political leaders are more effective than females. Both male and female teenagers prefer males on the student council.  Even a majority of moms of teenage girls  believe that boys are more effective student body officers.  What?

The root of our problem is that most of us don’t understand the science of leadership.  In fact most people may not know that effective leadership has become testable science.  It has.  For instance if we agree that excellent business leaders should be able to:

  1. create and produce profitable products and services that improve the quality of life of customers;
  2. inspire and motivate employees to consistently perform their jobs extraordinarily well;
  3. consistently produce profits (once the company is beyond the startup phase) and;
  4. conduct business in a socially responsible manner that produces benefits to communities and minimizes or eliminates harm to the environment;

then we can identify leadership factors that actually produce those results. And we have.

Our problem is that neither our business schools nor Wall Street fully agree that these four worthwhile goals of business leadership really matter. Instead they focus on things like competitive dominance and financial results.  This leads companies like Volkswagen to pay their engineers to fool regulators instead of coming up with brilliant technology. It’s what led GE’s Jack Welch to spend two decades paying fines to the EPA rather than cleaning their toxic waste out of the Hudson River.  It’s what enables the financial pirates known as investment bankers, who caused the needless suffering of the last recession, to pay fines but escape jail.

Likewise in politics, too many of us seem to like puffed-up roosters bellowing about going to war, building walls and solving complex problems through the shear force of their will.  It is natural for us to wish the world be simpler than it is.  But this wish makes it easy for really strong sounding leaders to promise to deliver what we emotionally wish were true.  It’s simple.  When we feel overwhelmed we are easily suckered.

Strong but stupid leadership has created the world we currently live in. In the 1990s we thought all war was over and perpetual prosperity could be engineered by Alan Greenspan.  Instead we have begun to recycle the geopolitical problems of the last thousand years and the ugliness of the unrestrained self-interest of the Gilded Age of 100 years ago. And we will continue to recycle our problems at even more extreme levels unless we understand the leadership qualities that will produce a world that works for everyone.

The actual science of leadership is based on a meta-analysis of what creates sustainable abundance confirms this:

  • Hard power, which is characterized by competitiveness, aggressiveness, decisiveness, single-mindedness and self-interest, is primarily effective at achieving short-term, easy-to-measure goals.  This isn’t to say it’s useless, only to say it is an inadequate way to run a complex organization or the most powerful country on earth.
  • Soft power, which is characterized by collaboration, teamwork, empathy and systems thinking, works well in complex environments where knowledge and information is widely distributed.  However, organizations led only by soft power tend to be indecisive, slow and uncompetitive.

The answer of course is the synthesis between hard and soft power.  It is the third way. It capitalizes on the goal-focus of hard power and social intelligence of soft power.  Is the basis for something I called gender synergy.  It’s no secret that most males favor hard power and most females exhibit soft power strengths. We need both.

The challenge we face is that we need to raise the new generation of SMART Power leaders pronto. The world economy continues to shake, new kinds of wars and medieval violence assault our peace, and businesses exhaust their employees, exploit the environment and fail all too quickly in the face of agile competitors.

Of course both men and women can learn the skills of SMART Power.  I am focusing on developing women leaders because women are listening.  Brand-new research reported in the book Broad Influence confirms that when any leadership group, whether it’s top executives, Boards of Directors or the U.S. Senate, reaches a critical mass of between 20% and 30% women, the group becomes much more effective in achieving its goals.  This phenomenon is being repeated all over the world. I believe more women in leadership is the most powerful trend that will revolutionize our future and get us out of the spin cycle created by the leaders who are currently in charge.

We need to celebrate it and accelerate it. You can help by calling out bad leadership.  You can put the name “hard power” on shortsighted, blindly aggressive leaders.  You can support socially intelligent, soft power leaders by helping them become SMART using the tools of goal setting and accountability. You can change the future right now, right where you are.

Will