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Be-cause, at cause, we cause!

15 June 2020

Rewind 6 years: I never imagined I would find myself in an ancient wide, shallow, and very rocky valley – clearly an old river system – without water. I was walking in a group, single file, with the vast blue sky of the Kimberley overhead. Protected by my broad brim hat from the sun, I was listening to the conversation around me and musing on the topics of the past 10 days. “Don’t keep stopping. The way out is over there. The leader should lead from the front, know where to go and how to get people there: they go first.” And, “you are welcome in our country. You will be protected while you walk across our land”

That welcome to country caused an overwhelming and inexplicable connection to country and community on my ARLP program. I strengthened my commitment to First Australians and took immediate action toward transforming conversations on respect, recognition and reconciliation.  

Being cause in the matter of leadership and reconciliation, I was elected to the Foundation’s Board. At cause in the matter of reconciliation, I strengthened my relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander friends and colleagues and contributed to the conversation for cultural awareness and cultural safety within the Board. 

My career path took a sudden turn. At cause in the matter of creating teams and teamwork that made a powerful difference in two-way listening and learning on reconciliation, we caused a cultural shift in the nature of conversations across a government department. I left my third career and started focussing on core communication competencies that leave everyone inspired and enabled to make a difference. 

Because of my commitment to trial dialogue-based methods and combine that with yarning circles, I worked voluntarily to create a series of Dialogue Circles. At cause in the matter of elevating a conversation for reconciliation and extending it across Australia, I created new relationships and facilitated new conversations. 

Rewind 2 days ago: I was sitting around the campfire, enjoying the smoky-flavour of my melted haloumi, listening to the conversation around me. “A leader should talk last. Hear from everyone else first”. I sat with that. And now reflecting on my leadership journey, I am clear that it is not about walking or talking positions – last or first – although they may contribute. And there are many other things leadership is not. It is not ‘because’ of circumstances. It is not oppositional and it is not reactive. Leadership and responsibility are related. 

Leadership can start with a willingness to be causative – whether in topics of social justice, economic prosperity, environmental sustainability or COVID 19. And you-I-one ends up being a leader when responsibility is not a destination, rather it is a place one already comes from.  

Yesterday, I spoke to a friend, a Wiradjuri woman, an elder and leader, an ARLF alumni. We rekindled the flame of listening and speaking deeply. Together, we caused collective futures that were not possible when acting alone. And in the current context of Black Lives Matter, we invite you to participate. If you are interested in leading, participating in or learning about dialogue-based action learning circles, please make contact.