For the last year or so I have been trying to build a picture in my head of what leadership looks like for me. I’ve done some readings, listened to some amazing speakers, bounced ideas of amazing leaders and educators and watched some youtube clips and TED talks. They all were great, but still didn’t quite fit.
The idea of self was hard for me. All through out NAPP we have been asked ‘who are you, and what do you value?’. I kind of brushed over it with an awkward feeling – what exactly is my ‘moral purpose’? Who am I to ask/demand these things?
But part of my roll is around leading change. And I think I’ve finally got an idea of what I want my leadership to look like
Ko Rakaia te awa
My river is the Rakaia
My river is the Rakaia because my family has a crib at the south side of the river mouth. I grew up on holidays there, fishing for whitebait and salmon, swimming in some of the creeks, being terrified of the waves from the sea (the drop of along that stretch of coast is crazy) and hearing of stories of flood and destruction. It fills me with sadness that my son might not get to see pods of Hectors Dolphins skimming the waves after Kawhai like I did as a child. My Grandfather spent countless hours constructing flood protection along the banks to stop the Rakaia huts getting flooded. Every time I drive home from Dunedin to Christchurch, I cross over the bridge and look at the water – is it high or low? rough or like glass? Multiple braids, or a solid stream. I am linked to this river more than I realised as a young person – we moved house, I moved cities, but the crib has always stayed the same and the awe inspiring power of the water still fascinates me.
I want my leadership to look like the Rakaia river.
Multiple sources feed into the river, contributing diverse ideas. The river might separate out into individual streams, develop eddy’s (thanks again to Karen Hopai for this idea) that can either suck ideas under or propel ideas forwards. At times, the river is sluggish and slow, other times rapid and raging. The river comes together only once in the journey from the mountains, at the Gorge, before it all streams out again finding a unique path to the sea.
Care is needed to ensure the river does not become a flood or a tidal wave that people become afraid of and can also wash away a lot of good things that are happening. Or that people will put up barriers to protect what they deem as essential or what are genuinely to good to throw away. A lack of ideas and input would dry up the rivers flow. Taking to much from the river will also dry the rivers flow so we need to carefully nurture and respect each individual drop on water.
The water also shapes the landscape around it, carrying rocks and earth and nutrients, hosting multiple lives along the length. It provides enjoyment, sustenance and occasional danger along its banks. Occasionally new paths and streams are forged, either by a flood of water in a hurry, or water gently carving away at a bank, or water building up due to some obstacle. And it might so happen that that direction is not as fruitful as first thought, and the water needs to change course again, either in a flood or bit by bit.
But all of the water, no matter the path it takes, eventually reaches the ocean. The rivers goal is clear – doesn’t matter how you get there and what uncertain paths you take, the water gets to the ocean. Which is where another fabulous idea that I learned this year comes in (thanks to Judith Forbes for sharing this at the Dunedin NAPP day)
The challenge for me is to not be the ‘Tsunami’ and allow people to find their own path. Respect that people will take a different route and maybe a different speed. If I can encourage people to ‘long’ for a more meaningful education for our young people that empowers them to become better citizens of this world, it doesn’t matter if they take a slightly different path.
‘ I took the one less travelled by, and it has made all the difference’ (Frost). So long as the end goal is the same, it doesn’t matter what path you take.