Staying in the Hot Seat

November 24, 2014 at 4:37 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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“We cannot respond to this call without improving our individual and collective skills to listen and talk in very different ways. We need new conversations that don’t get lost in rhetoric, good intentions and feel good statements. We need the very conversations we often don’t dare to have, and are too fearful to start.” – Page 12, Introduction, Lost Conversations

Last Thursday night I was fortunate enough to be at the launch of the book ‘Lost Conversations’ at the Sydney Opera House. I had received information about the event through the Benevolent Society’s Social Leadership Australia eNews and am so glad I made the time to be apart of the wise, honest, empowering and purposeful discussions that took place on the night. Each of the authors, coming from within various spheres of influence as Indigenous and Non Indigenous Australians, shared the stage with moderators Tanya and Tim (Joint Campaign Directors from Recognise). They opened up about the process of engaging in a journey that was dreamt up a few years ago from a ‘why’, a necessity for new ways of engaging, conversing and leading together, then let the ‘how’ unfold through individual and collective commitment, courage, respect, passion, vulnerability and ongoing learning.

“We’re not always going to agree. Conflict is always going to happen. But we need each other to do the work.” – Comment from Mark Yettica – Paulson on the night

The quotes I’ll use throughout this post come from various authors of ‘Lost Conversations’ last Thursday night. Each have resonated with me deeply and caused much reflection and discussion with friends over the past few days. Many of the authors spoke frankly about the complexities, challenges and frustrations they experienced over the past few years within this group process. But as is conveyed in this first quote, each individual showing up authentically and being willing to stretch, grow and contribute is what resulted in not only the book itself but a deepening of connection to self, others and the world around them and an ever increasing ability to make a difference in their own and others lives. The Donald H. McGannon quote, ‘Leadership is action, not position’, reminds us that ‘the work’ is what we are here to do as individuals and within shared leadership opportunities.

“Sitting in the hot seat for long enough, longer than you normally would, to realise the bigger dream.” – Comment from Grant Paulson on the night

The quote above really moved me as I reflected on this theme of lost conversations, whether it be in this cross cultural space as explored in the book or within other areas of our own journeys of potential. How often do we as individuals and groups leave the metaphorical table or space, shutting down or turning away from the uncomfortable in our lives? Each interaction we have is indeed an opportunity to explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically, but within the complexity of our humanness or as Grant commented on the night not recognising our ‘mutual brokenness’, we can move on too quickly and neglect the bigger dreams we have for ourselves, others and the global village in which we live. I have written before about connection as the glue that holds our humanness together. Staying in the hot seat means the glue has time to set instead of constantly ripping it away to ‘prove’ it wasn’t there in the first place or it just won’t work. In other words connection needs time to be deepened, processed and most effectively utilised as we foster empowered individual and collective thoughts, words and actions.

“We were doing rapid judgement and making ourselves righteous, but if we can hold back, we can progress.” – Comment from Mark Yettica – Paulson on the night

Judgement can be very easy to slip into, especially as we navigate a culture that promotes fear, scarcity, comparison and distraction. Whether it be of ourselves or others, a particular situation or challenge, one individual or a whole group, feelings of righteousness can emerge as we attempt to justify the judgments we throw around. But when we drill down into this theme, while growing our awareness, appreciation and courage to engage in the lost conversations within our lives, we can compassionately remember that “We have a country that is in its bicultural infancy, and we have the opportunity to shape that” – comment from Kim Robertson on the night. Each of us have the power to be agents of change through our daily thoughts, words and actions, transcending and challenging any perceived cultural stories, stereotypes, norms or pressures that may exist. As many of the authors commented on the night, change begins with ‘the man (or woman) in the mirror’.

“There’s too much at stake to leave the conversation.” – Comment from Grant Paulson on the night

What lost conversations can you identify within your own individual or our shared journeys of potential, whether it be in this cross cultural space or another area of your life? What new ways of engaging, conversing and leading together can you envision for communities of ‘informed, connected and empowered individuals who believe deeply in their own and others potential’?

I highly recommend downloading a free copy of ‘Lost Conversations’ at www.lostconversations.org.au

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