It’s our afternoon ritual. As early as 4am or as late as 7pm in the evening the familiar iPhone shudder in my pocket prompts me to answer.
“Lockie how are ya, ya great streak of misery? How many units have you moved this week?” His voice cracks from the hands-free Bluetooth in his car. I’m generally sitting on my back veranda on the Western edge of the continent, in Perth.
Of an evening Reg invites me to share his drive home from the workplace. It can be the slow of his suburban crawl down the freeway or on the way back from Geraldton or sitting in an Indonesian airport. Again, I find myself I’m driving home with Reg.
For the next thirty to forty minutes we unpack the dilemmas of the day. Work, families, relationships, anxiety, business strategies…nothing is off limits.
For the last ten years we’ve driven home together. Neither one of us has much in common. Reg is an introvert, I’m an extrovert, he works in a large organisation, I’ve mostly freelanced or worked remotely, he’s naturally ordered, I’m not. The list could go on, but you get it, other than gender we’re not the same animal.
From Lithuanian Viking stock Reg is not a small unit. I first spotted his large frame, pacing up and down nervously, at Perth airport on our way to the Kimberley session on course 17 of the ARLP. Our Khaki clothing hiking boots and a shared apprehension about what lay ahead, people had warned us it would not be easy, prompted our mutual introductions. And so, began what for me is a significant friendship.
But it’s the diversity that the conversation on the drive home with Reg gives me. It’s brutal in its honesty, and can, as all feedback can, be regularly, caring, challenging and confronting. But that’s how we like it.
Other than what my family tells me is an improvement in my behavior, perhaps this drive home two or three times a week will be one of the most powerful and lasting legacy of my time on Course 17 of the ARLP. This thing that we share as a couple of blokes who struggle with our lives and leadership questions on a daily basis. How do you bring kids up the right way, what is the ethical action in a complex situation, how is your fitness going mate, have you applied rigor to your risk analysis?
While we hunt down our answers to the daily issues and the mysteries of work and family life, I think it’s the discussion on the drive home that we enjoy most.
I hope we never decide that we’ve arrived!
As the Bedouin say, “when you’ve finished building your house you die.”
Sorry gotta go my iPhone’s ringing.
Lockie McDonald is ARLF Manager, Programs and ARLF Fellow
Richard Simonaitis (Reg), is a Graduate of ALRP Course 17 and currently works as the Chief Executive Officer of Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre
*Written pre Covid 19 while working in Kununurra.