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   

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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 

 

 

Leadership is not for the faint of heart

Over the years I have written a number of posts on leadership and from the robust discussions that followed the vocal majority in agriculture seem to prefer the notion leaders are born not made.

I am currently attending a number of courses/events that pitch themselves as Leadership Courses

It will be hard for them to trump one of the best experiences of my life yesterday which was attending (with 1500 other people ) the Simon Sinek “Start with Why” Leadership forum .

As Simon quite rightly shared with us

“how can we aspire to be a leader when we cant all agree what leadership is?”

Donna Digby who bought 18 women in the agriculture sector a combined 20,000 km to Melbourne to hear their hero Simon speak is the perfect example of the definition of leadership Simon promotes.

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As the motivational speaker and author explained, it really boils down to three things: selflessness, empathy, and an ability to manage anxiety on your team. Here is a look at each trait, and why it is so valuable for you to cultivate. 

1. Selflessness

People like to be around people they trust–it’s as simple as that. “Humans are constantly assessing people and organizations around them, and if they feel they’re selfish, they’ll keep a safe distance,” said Sinek. On the other hand, people tend to want to associate with people and brands characterised by an element of selflessness. Creating that human connection–building trust-is key, though it does take time. Just remember: You’re responsible for setting that tone, Sinek warned. “When the environment is one of a leader who [will] sacrifice, the way people respond is by sacrificing in return. Being a leader is a lifestyle decision; it means you’re willing to take care of others.” 

2. Empathy

Speaking of taking care of others, Sinek added, “the more we do good for each other, the more we want to do good for each other.” He recounted the time he picked up loose papers for a man when he saw them slip out of his bag. The man was grateful, but Sinek said his actions went further than that. They motivated someone who saw them to do something kind. Kindness begets kindness, Sinek went on. It’s holding the door for someone, making a new pot of coffee, and letting someone into your lane. Putting others ahead of yourself-“that is the practice of leadership,” he said. 

3. Grace under fire 

Stress and anxiety are enough to make people dishonest and to sabotage their performance at work. When your body is flooded with cortisol, or the chemical that produces anxiety, “you biologically restrict empathy and trust,” Sinek said. Don’t be that kind of boss–if you’re the one inducing fear and anxiety in your employees, you’re never going to have their trust. The solution is clear: Work on managing your own stress and “be the leader you wish you had,” he said. Your team will appreciate it.  Source 

Simon compared being a leader to being a parent.

‘You accept the responsibility  for the growth of another human being, often  making many thankless sacrifices. Leadership is a hard gig and its not for the faint of heart.’

Wonderful #sketchnote summary of Simon’s talk by the very talented Matthew Magain

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As I watch a lot of the current nastiness on Twitter particularly in the dairy industry I am so saddened to see far too many people creating a toxic environment where people don’t feel safe and the bullies rule. Its time for us all to become leaders and see our role as nurturers of others  and get our buzz not from the hurt generated but take pride in the growth and confidence building of others. Its time to get high on watching others thrive

The TED talk that made Simon a legend

Young people in agriculture lobby for action on stuff that matters to them

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I am a very different person to the person I was when I began my mission ten years ago to have my fellow farmers proud and loud of what they do and the industries they produce food and food and fibre for

I credit that change in the way I think and act to the young people I have met on my journey

I sell hope, they sell hope, together we have started a movement to create a new era of communication and transparency from the agricultural sector between farmers and the community. This allows farmers to raise awareness of the challenges they face to provide Australian families with safe, affordable and healthy food now and in the future.

Our programs and activities open the door for the community to ask questions and receive answers to questions on stuff that matters to them.

We do this because deep down our farmers feel unloved loved and undervalued. Our programs and activities provide matchmaking opportunities – a dating service if you like for farmers to connect with, and partner with the people in the community who love and appreciate them and people in the community who will love and appreciate them when they meet them

We do this by

  • designing and delivering events and activities through partnerships between young people in the agriculture sector and young people in schools using art and technology and two way conversations.
  • building capacity and the confidence of young people in the agriculture sector to share their story and deploy them using innovative vehicles such as The Archibull Prize to deliver agriculture’s key messages in a way that resonates with the audiences they reach with the mantra “People don’t care what you know until they know you care”

Whilst  I am very proud of this legacy, deep down its these young people that light my fire. On their journey they have developed the confidence and courage to share their story and lobby for action on stuff that matters to them

Let me introduce to Anika Molesworth and Kirsty McCormack – two young women in agriculture with a high profile in the media blazing a trail for us all

Farmers believe in climate change, so why don’t the politicians who say they represent them? 

“Anyone sitting in Parliament saying they represent rural and regional Australia should be figuring out how the decisions they make today are going to determine whether our farms are profitable in the years to come.”

“If we want something done about this then we need to do more than whisper across the back fence. It’s time to start shouting, and if our politicians fail to listen and catch up with the times then they risk being left behind.”  Anika Molesworth

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Social Media for the future 

“We’re a generation who don’t want to sit down and read facts and figures, we want to hear from individual people, and hear their stories,” Kirsty McCormack

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#youthinag #stuffthatmatters #YFC #ArchiullPrize

Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.

The characteristic I most admire in people is courage.

Last week I attended the Australian Geographic Awards with Josh Gilbert’s family and partner. If ever there was an award’s event that celebrates courage, it’s the Australian Geographic Awards.

Yesterday I was reminded how lucky I am to be surrounded by so many courageous young people

Firstly there was this testimonial for Young Farming Champion Dee George. I know how much this will mean to Dee (you are a true champion Dee)

And there was this entry in The Archibull Prize based on the ethos of the Dr Suess book The Lorax. After 4 weeks on the road with the art judge videoing the students it had got to the stage where I was queen of the bloopers and struggling to turn the record button on and off at the right time.

What does all this have to do with Josh. Well Josh is like The Lorax

I love his sense of right and wrong.

I love that he recognizes the need to speak for those who have no voice.

I love that he sees the beauty of an unspoiled forest.

I love that he’s willing to stand up for what he believes in, even when it is the unpopular opinion.

But most of all, I love that he maintains a hope for the future, even when it seems so dismal.

And I love that he not only believes that one person can change the world, but like all the Young Farming Champions he puts his heart and soul into being part of a movement that empowers them to do so.

I videoed his presentation and his speech. It was a very courageous moment

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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.

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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

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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/

Don’t expect to see positive change if you surround yourself with negativity

As soon as you pass through the magnificent avenue of trees at Gundowringa at Crookwell you realise you have arrived at a farm steeped in heritage

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Charlie Prell inspired by the visionaries who came before him 

On your left is the 160-year-old  woolshed that in its heyday accommodated 16,000 sheep and the stone shearer’s quarters built in 1916

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Today it sleeps up to 18 to supplement the farm’s income through fly fishing and farmstay opportunities

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On your right is a stone cottage of the same era and to the right of the stone cottage stands the pavilion that once overlooked the cricket oval

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But the pièce de résistance is the homestead. Everything else is a reminder of when the country rode on the sheep’s back. The homestead underpins why the family is so committed to making farming work for them and the generations to come in the 21st Century

Gundowringa Homestead was built by Chas E Prell in 1905 out of basalt and granite and roof tiles that were used as ballast on ships doing the round trip from UK to Australia 

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Chas E Prell – the first of 5 generations of the Prell family on Gundowringa

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The gardens were laid out while the house was being built. There are some very impressive large trees, some now over 100 years old. Including what is believed to be the oldest and largest Linden grown in this country. Other breathtaking species include an evergreen example of the liquid amber family the Liquidamber festerii

It was the rose garden and the horizontal elm, with the flattened canopy designed to allow you to walk under that caught my eye.

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The house has maid’s quarters and when first built visitors were greeted at the door by a butler. At the height of the wool boom the property supported thirty jobs

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The homestead was adapted to use as farmstay accommodation in 2000 by Charlie’s parents Jeff and Jess Prell until Jess death in 2008

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Jeff Prell – a man with every right to be proud of what his family has achieved and the perfect host to share his family heritage past

Jeff has found love again and married local artist Margaret Shepherd whose studio and artworks bring a new vibrancy to the homestead

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The current generation have a lot to inspire them and inspired they are. Inspired to adapt and move with the times. Inspired to respect the landscape and work in partnership with it

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Jeff and Charlie Prell marching into the future 

Like his great grandfather and his namesake Charlie Prell knows that pioneers who advocate and help drive change are often initially perceived as being radical in the extreme particularly by people entrenched in the past

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Charlie Prell – a bright future relies on innovation and making the most of the ssets you have 

What we often forget is what traditionally sets people like Charlie and his great grandfather apart is their commitment to the greater good. Charlie Prell has leased part of Gundowringa to a company who will install a wind farm. He is also helping farmers across Australia find alternate fresh income streams from renewable energy technology.

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The site of the future Gundowringa Windfarm

Charlie is using part of his new stream of passive income to reinvigorate and drought proof the farm and embrace the opportunities that the combination of the diverse income streams of renewable energy, tourism and food and fibre production offer to sustaining generations of Prell family members as long as they wish to remain there.

Nobody will ever be able to say that Charlie Prell is a victim of the disconnect between reality of the vargaries of farming and the idealism of the view that food and fibre production alone will keep Australian farming families in business for the long haul in the 21st Century

Today it’s hard to believe that the now acknowledged visionary Chas E Prell the man who epitomised the “producing more with less’ ethos and pioneered pasture improvement utilising superphosphate fertiliser was in his time considered a maverick who didn’t follow convention. Its a reminder that its important not to forget the past. What’s even more important is to learn from it.

Change is the law of life

I recently heard some-one say the jobs available in ten years’ time to young people currently in primary school wont have been heard of today. My greatest hope is that agriculture becomes a visionary in learning from its past and embracing the opportunities a partnership between farmers and nature offers