The first opportunity I found was a 3 month leadership course with an optional part in Canberra. Since Canberra was the only capital city I had yet to visit, I was determined to win a spot on the leadership course. Sounded like a great idea, especially sitting in my little home office, 20 minutes from town, and two hours from Perth! Twelve weekly webinars with a group of like-minded rural and regional women in the comfort of my own home, and a 2 day face-to-face muster for e-leaders to meet in person. I was thinking, 3 nights of eating out, no school lunches or cleaning up and showers without the hot water running out.
Luckily, I got a spot on the course! I was thrilled. It meant that I could take some much needed time on my own to ask myself the hard questions – is what I am doing worth it, and where should I be headed? Luckily, I do have the best husband in the world, who supports me and is quite capable of looking after our children and home while I was away.
After the excitement of getting away on my own dissipated, I woke up in the hotel in Canberra and nerves set in as I realised I would actually have to re-find some confidence to get up in front of a room of strangers and explain myself to them. Being an introvert, the very thought of walking into a room of strangers is enough to send me packing. But, I did it. I remembered everyone else would be in the same boat, put your best foot forward and feel the fear. And I should not have worried, because I found my ‘alumni’ group; a fabulous group of ladies, with all very similar stories and purposes, from far-flung parts of Australia, who warmly welcomed and accepted every individual in that room. It restored my faith in the therapy of sharing, talking, listening and learning with women.
The two day muster was a great start to the twelve week program, as it restored my confidence in myself that I can do it, which I am not sure would have been as evident from just participating in the webinars. Each participant had a 10% stretch exercise to complete, along with a personal presentation and opportunities to learn from a great mix of speakers on topics of leadership and advocacy. The highlight was of course heading over to Parliament and having a chat with a few ‘pollies’ and seeing the inner workings of the House. The networking dinners provide by the NRWC staff were another highlight, providing effective opportunities to get to know other e-leaders, which has culminated in an online ‘alumni’ group to continue into our careers.
The 12 consecutive weeks of webinars was a great medium to continue learning and challenging ourselves as e-leaders. With an effective mix of topics from looking after yourself, media communications, advocacy, resilient leadership and goal setting, the inspiring presenters facilitated practical learning.
The legacy of spending a bit of money on myself to get to Canberra, and investing time weekly over the 3 months is that I now have some new-found knowledge and skills to use, along with the confidence to continue my leadership journey. The greatest part of this year is that I now have an e-leaders alumni group that I can connect with, ask questions and advice from, share ideas and successes.
This year is now a year of ‘Before’ and ‘After’. My Year of Doing has become a year of many firsts, and putting myself out of the comfort zone. The great part is that now those firsts are behind me, I am looking for more ‘firsts’ to complete. The NRWC e-leaders course has provided me with the much-needed growth I was looking for and the confidence to pursuing future leadership roles. I would encourage any rural women sitting at the cross-roads to take a chance and invest some time and money in themselves. The thought of what our communities would like if all rural and regional women got to travel down the NRWC path would be quite inspiring. More doing, less spectating!