By Ellen Downes, Canowindra
As featured in the 2019 Country Web Annual
My life is a juggle of some paid work (medicine) and unpaid work, including my role on the farm, as a mother, within the not-for-profit group AgEDGE, and the Agricultural Show movement. The underlying thread across all of these roles is my desire and passion to see rural people, particularly rural women, recognised, supported and empowered so they can contribute and continue to create impact across family, business and community.
Passion gives us authenticity in the way we present in life. The things we are passionate about are not random, they are our calling. They enable us to ‘show up’ in a way that is real and with integrity, allowing us to deliver great outcomes and to do amazing things.
Some people make the mistake of thinking that ‘profession’ is restricted to a paid role. Career success however means different things to different people – from pay, status, self-development, recognition, autonomy and being able to ‘make a difference’.
For women, there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to success; everyone has to find their own definition. There are many successful women working in paid roles. However we know women contribute a significant amount of time to unpaid roles, and this may be where their passion lies. These roles are equally vital to the success of our families, businesses, communities and industries.
Regardless of where your passion lies the important thing is to be clear about your goals and your purpose as this is what will help you figure out your ‘WHY’.
Simone Sinek says, ‘Charisma has nothing to do with energy; it comes from a clarity of WHY. It comes from absolute conviction in an ideal bigger than oneself. Energy, in contrast, comes from a good night’s sleep or lots of caffeine. Energy can excite. But only charisma can inspire. Charisma commands loyalty. Energy does not.’
To help you determine your WHY, look up the ‘golden circle’ tool. It can help you to ascertain how and what you need to do to guide your ‘plan’ and allow you to tap into your potential to create an impact in your community, industry, business and family spheres.
Our sense of identity revolves around the stories we tell ourselves. Our sense of community derives from our shared stories. And our sense of the world develops from narrative patterns. So once you’ve found your purpose, in order to create impact and engage your audience you need to be able to tell your story of ‘WHY’.
Simon says there are only two ways to influence human behaviour: ‘You can manipulate it or you can inspire it’. Use storytelling as a tool to share your WHY and inspire the people around you. Then gather them to your purpose with good leadership. Keep in mind that being a leader is a lifestyle decision; it means you’re willing to take care of others. Turning your passion into something tangible requires a review of your leadership qualities, including selflessness, empathy and grace under fire. Understanding the qualities of a good leader is a worthwhile exercise in knowing how to implement a plan and bring others with you.
In today’s climate, organisations have had to become more collaborative, networked and nimble. Some traditional hierarchies are now being replaced by new structures where collaboration and communication are the new currencies of success. These ‘soft skills’ are now recognised as some of the most in demand and influential skills for employment. I would argue this is the case for life too.
Women are change makers. I suspect this is largely due to our capacity for problem solving, communication, collaboration, curiosity, creativity, leadership, negotiation, empathy, conflict resolution and adaptability. These essential skills mean we are well placed to take advantage of new opportunities and create positive impact across all spheres. Our leadership ability is enhanced by these soft skills, although we can always improve them for great results. I believe that acknowledging these skills as key strengths and valuable attributes is one of the first steps towards empowering rural women.
So, how do we turn passion into profession? Determine your WHY. Develop your soft and hard skills, and recognise how you are already using them. Learn what good leadership means. Search for support structures and tools that will help to guide you both personally and ‘professionally’. Then share your story, engage and contribute. This will create a ripple effect that can transform rural women, businesses, and communities.
There is always something new to learn from and grow with. Add some passion to the equation and you have an exciting opportunity to develop your true purpose and to create a lasting impact across your chosen path.