Oh, Miss Megan

Sunset hike to Drawing Rocks, South Coast NSW

Oh, Miss Megan. My incredible best friend, co-worker, co-founder, co-legend and co- so many other things, deserves the first blog of the year. Wow, I forgot I had a blog.

Megan Rowlatt is a legend. If you know her, you know what I am talking about. Everyday I am grateful to have her in my life for all the above and much more. And I thought perhaps by sharing a tangent about our work-life relationship perhaps, it might inspire you to think about a relationship with a co-worker. We spend most of our waking hours at work, working somewhere on something with somebody and developing a meaningful, respectful relationship makes ‘work’ that bit more enjoyable.

So here I go…

I first heard about Megan and her incredible community engagement work with Landcare sometime around 2014. She was (is) this phenomenon for Landcare. I started following her inspiring Instagram feed, and became one of her many followers – borderline stalker which I have since confessed! Then I got hold of her email signature and had her number. A few months later I worked up the courage to call her and share an idea that I had, and said that I thought she was the person to come on board to help make it happen. After all she was a phenomenon! She responded, sorry, who are you? Only kidding, she was like, hell yeah, there is another young person out there that thinks similar to me.

It has been three years since  we co-founded Intrepid Landcare. So, what has been our secret to creating a real, authentic professional relationship yet we live in different states and have other lives? How do we make what we do happen? Yet have so much fun?

  • No bullshit – to be frank first up, we do not bullshit. We do not have time for games.
  • Always a contribution to each other – what has to be said is said. Raw, honest feedback is given and taken as a contribution. We comment on what worked and even better if about each other’s craft, and this is taken on board to improve next time. We can only do better and strive for our best.
  • In communication – about everything. Facebook chat is where we do most of our communication and we do phone pow-wows when and if we can. We check in when it is appropriate with each other, as we also have lives outside Intrepid Landcare. I am usually walking my dog, Megan is usually driving. We also get into communication with each other asap when something urgent comes up and we back each other every time.
  • Work with integrity at its core – honouring our own word creates trust, with each other and ourselves. We trust that we will follow through with what we said and when we said it, and we will be in communication if we think a deadline might be missed.
  • Timekeepers – time is a commodity, we are both (I am probably more) meticulous on time management. We can see each other’s calendar to know what is going on for the other person. If anything, Megan can see  how I project manage… life. Our time is valued.
  • Actually interested in each other – between sharing ideas, sending each other designs and documents to look over, I also send probably too many photos of my dog. Megan knows what is happening in my life, she is part of my life. This keeps whatever is happening in perspective and we are able to provide advice on so much more other than work.
  • Honour space – we also honour space for other stuff, especially thinking time. We are not in each other’s pockets, rather,  honour space. Space to restore, recharge, rethink… reset. Setting up an organisation isn’t exactly a stroll. It can be long nights, weekends, sunsets and sunrises… and can be  a demand on the mind and soul. We both have  our own self-care approaches, and we honour space to ensure each other are ok. This also means our minds are rested, hearts are energised and we are excited to keep the adventure alive.

There is probably so much more to unpack about our relationship. But this is what I have got to share on a Tuesday night. Much love and respect to Megan xo

 

 

Culture first, collaboration then just happens

The last two foundation years of building Intrepid Landcare has been a bit of a blur. It only feels like yesterday when I met Megan for the second or third time in a Sydney cafe in Chatswood only moments before meeting Landcare Australia to pitch our idea of a national movement that connects, inspires and empowers young people to act and lead with Landcare. Back then it was just the two of us, and our parents and friends who were probably like, yes, this is another great idea, “go for it and best of luck!”

I knew it was a great idea, and so did Megan.

From that initial meeting with Landcare Australia it took us about 3 months to figure out if we should be our own identity or be part of another identity. Having hindsight from many failures before with trying to setup young people movements I knew that we had to be our own identity. An identity for young people, created by young people so that it can become their identity. A movement becomes a movement when people embody the core of who you are, and part of this is your organisational identity.

So, how have we created an identity for Intrepid Landcare?

We soon pooled together a brilliant tribe filled with passions and skills that were similar yet different to our own passions and skills. We knew we needed what we didn’t have, along with having what we had lots of, that being energy! We pieced together a constitution, governance structure and without any face to face meetings we soon became an identity over Facebook chat, phone meetings and Google Hangout. We then raised enough cash through our initial crowdfunding campaign, which we are always grateful for the donors who initially backed us, to fund flights and food to pay for our first Board Retreat, our first face to face meeting. Thanks again!

It was as if we already knew each other but didn’t. We met in Berry NSW, and stayed in this beautiful log cabin filled with love and international treasures, the home of Bill and Leslie Pigott, who are worldly legends on all things Landcare and leadership. The Pigott’s opened their home to us for a weekend, and also baked muffins and refilled (and still do) our hearts with worldly insights into Landcare and leadership.

We had a packed agenda for this first face to face meeting (which we now call Board Retreats), yet somehow had lots of time for laughing, sharing stories and enjoying nature (which is of no surprise when you are around Megan!). First off the agenda was how we expected each other to communicate, recognising that we all are different, have different needs and work and live different lives and in different parts of the country. We started with this because we knew we wanted to create the right culture.

We are ever so grateful for this initial work we worked hard to get right, and still do! We continually put ourselves on the line to share our deepest flaws and greatest assets. We discuss what we like and don’t like to do, and work out how to share the load and keep us moving forward. We clearly know what we don’t want what people think comes inherently with organisations – gossip, hierarchical structure, power and generational indifference with gender, age, ethnicity and disabilities, among much more. None of us either have time or want to tread water through murky waters. Our cause doesn’t deserve the impurities of human beings’ inequalities, it deserves equality.

It has been two years and if we wrote a plan – which we kind of did – it wouldn’t have been filled with the characters we have met and the conversations we have had. Although while I think it is important to have a plan, it is not essential to be first off the rank with designing and defining organisations, rather, you need the right culture to be the heart of what is and has to come. This is my biggest lesson thus far, and it is the why of what Intrepid Landcare is and is becoming.

Culture is the beating heart of any organisation. We can talk about intellectual and emotional intelligence all you like, or the super-drivers of organisations. I think the most important part is getting over yourself and having the listening of others and granting yourself the listening of others that speaks what you or your organisation wants – collaboration and all that super-driver talk. What other organisations do not do enough of is working hard on the essentials, and that is figuring out what organisational identity do we want to create and need to have to be and do what those strategic and business plans suggest we need to achieve.

Once you have the right culture sorted (which is always in a state of flux, meaning that this part needs consistent work, and needs to be the heart of every conversation) in a blink of an eye your movement will have its own wings. The next challenge is not letting others’ impurities diminish your identity – it is best to leave gossip, hierarchical structure, power and generational indifference with gender, age, ethnicity and disabilities, among much more at the door 🙂

Honesty and humility – Part 1

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Taking in the sunrise show across the south coast

Last Sunday and well before dawn my friends and I woke up energised and some not so energised for a sunrise hike to take in the view of Drawing Room Rocks in the Barren Grounds Nature Reserve on the south coast of New South Wales, not far from Berry. As we arrived at the beginning of the hike the black sheets of darkness around us blinded any beauty that was yet to be explored and experienced. With the starry-sky slowing turning from black to blue-black but before fluorescent orange, yellow, pink and purple, we started to ascend.

There were five lights ahead of me, one behind, and mine gave me enough light to make my way up the mountain through the forest and heathland then onto the plateau. Weaving through weathered-stunted tea-trees and leaping from one rock to one boulder, the weathering Hawkesbury Sandstone also illuminated my path with speckles of glitter. My imagination romanticised with the idea of following the bioluminescence of a mystical creature as I climbed the foreign mountain.

The morning choir of birds was yet to begin so besides the sounds of the wind, deep breathing, some panting and stomping, there was silence. We were focused on reaching the plateau before the blood orange sun broke over the horizon, across the Pacific in the near distance. With only a warm breeze to cool the body, sweat poured from my glands, so when I could I gracefully wiped my forehead free from my salt-infused perspiration. Not knowing how far or hard the hike was yet to be I paced myself, and reminded myself, there was no need to rush.

There was no need to rush. I reached the lookout before the sun-broke the new day. I found some carved rocks among a patch of healthy-green lomandras to soften a bed as I nestled into the bowls of the unique-looking volcanic rocks. I was surrounded by my friends as each of them also chose a space to rest and reflect while taking in the sunrise show.

As the sun rose the colour of the sky highlighted the low-lying clouds as they transitioned from fluoro orange to yellow and pink over what seemed to be a lifetime. Conversation soon turned from what cloud would you be, to favourite colours, and other favourite things. Then the conversation got more meaningful as we shared our favourite goals for 2017, and opened ourselves to embrace honesty and humility to show our real cards on self-awareness and development.

The practice of honesty with others and myself around my responsibilities is my favourite self-awareness and development goal for 2017. I think I am an honest person, however, I do know I do withhold information which I should be more generous with. What I do know is that I will struggle with practicing honesty, thus, I need to practice humility as well; rather than being honest for the sake of being honest (which I know and have been told can be disruptive and aggressive).  What I do know is that I have the best friends around me , which some of them were around me, and they will help me negotiate honesty and humility throughout this year.

Why is honesty and humility a hand-in-hand value? I will explore this next time!


This tangent is part of a reflexive journal for my Phd (these are my opinions and ideas about institutional leadership and change). This tangent is a reflection from an experience during an Intrepid Landcare Board Retreat 2017 (a pretty sweet meeting spot!). Enjoy, and credit where appropriate.