Survivor for Bureaucrats

The 2012 Local Government Rural Management challenge was held at Renmark in South Australia. I was part of a team of six people representing our organisation. Seven teams competed – six from South Australia and one from Victoria. Our team consisted of: Mr. Les Al Dance, Miss Ima Hugga, Ms Heaven Lea, Mr Doug A Trench, Mr Al Grandé, Ms Ginger Plum and the Team Coach Dr Tor Mentor.

We travelled the 800km in a mini bus and got to know our team mates a little better as most of us had not worked together before. We appeared to be a fairly reserved and quite bunch. We had been briefed and prepared for the challenge. So we had a logo, a flag, a motto, a vision and values, team rules, banners, and team t-shirts; as well as a heap of stationery, documents, laptops, printer, lollies and music.

We were all nervous on the day but keen to set up our designated room. We moved beds, put up posters, set up the banners, made our work areas, set up the laptops and printer, and prepared the customer service area complete with fresh flowers, sign-in book, picture of The Mayor, and welcome sign.

Then the whirlwind hit. After a briefing with all the teams, we started work on the four tasks that were delivered, with two more undefined tasks expected to arrive at any time. We brainstormed as a group, wrote up the task schedule on the whiteboard, divided the tasks accordingly, and got our heads down.

Three reports, one briefing paper, a meeting, a flowchart, and two customer service actions with file notes later and it was lunch time. PHEW! I felt dehydrated, headachey, stressed and overwhelmed. After lunch it was straight back into it with three more tasks to complete. Another report, a media release, and a presentation and we were done. Our presentation was a group effort and we kicked off the seven presentations to finish the day. FRED formed the basis of our Staff Code of Conduct Training Overview.

The scenarios and tasks formed an interesting and descriptive narrative for the District Council of Galeforz, so much so that I felt as if I knew the place and the people. Rather than dry tasks, the tasks proved to be interesting, challenging, relevant and realistic. Two women acted some parts during the day in order to provide some “real life” action. This added a further dimension to the scenarios and was well executed.

Our team performed like a Bathurst Pit Crew. There were no conflicts or power struggles. Just a team of equals working together: collaborating, supporting, sharing, suggesting, and swapping. It was a thing of beauty. Our Coach worried that we ignored the morning tea of cakes and drinks. And by lunch time we were dehydrated, tired and a bit worse for wear. The afternoon session was shorter and less intense. The seven group presentations formed a perfect way to complete the day. I was quick to volunteer our team to present first just to get it over with. FRED formed the basis of our presentation.

Back at the motel our Coach de-briefed us and provided words of encouragement and pride. We were glad she was glad.

Dinner and presentations were enjoyed at the Renmark Club on the banks of the Murray River. The winners – six young gorgeous women from the Yorke Peninsula were the stand out performers on the day. We won an award for the Best Dressed Room and so our badging and arranging efforts were recognised.

The long bumpy return trip in the mini bus was a quiet journey with the team feeling totally spent and mentally exhausted. It was an excellent experience that condensed a year’s worth of training and team building into a single day. If you get the opportunity – dive in.

Signing off: Ginger Plum, Group Manager Human Resources.

Flying not falling

It looked to me like he was plummeting to earth before the orange chute opened, but he said he was flying. My partner/husband/friend/companion/accomplice could not stop smiling as he told me about his skydive.

He has also recently managed to stand up on a surf board. His “bucketlist” is getting shorter. Another thing ticked off his list was to build a new house.

Visit Paris –yes. Climb Uluru – yes. Visit Machu Pichu – not yet. Visit Paris again – not yet! I don’t like the notion of the “bucket list” and prefer to think of my life as a colourful palette. Each day we create what we will. Sometimes it can be a muddy mess while at other times it is so beautiful beyond all expectation.

I have felt like I was falling – my life changes so total I have struggled to find my feet. This morning I realised I am flying not falling. The typical morning-mind complaints rattled around in my brain, whinging about the injustice of having to get up early to drive to the rural airport; when a scene so unique and beautiful stopped me and made me realise how lucky I was to  be out of bed early after all.

I was driving through patches of fog as morning light illuminated the countryside in soft pastel stripes of pink, blue and grey. The pastures lit up in vivid green and the white wind turbines turned their man-made symmetry in slow motion above the fog. It was a jewel of a day, so lovely and precious that I felt lucky and privileged and snapped out of my morning fug. Indeed I was lucky to be alive. I thought about stopping and taking a photo but I knew this could not be captured within the confines of a small digital image.

And that got me thinking about how my life has changed in so many ways. I recall wanting change and now every day is different and new. I had lifted myself out of the stagnant predictable sameness that it was, into a fresh, vibrant, challenging, rewarding and creative experience. We (my husband and I) pushed the boundaries and expanded our life experience to be fuller and richer.

Last night I was in a small country town hall at a public meeting listening to locals talk about their town. Today (in an unrelated matter) I enjoyed fine dining in The Melbourne Room of the Melbourne Town Hall then just three hours later I am in the plane banking over Discovery Bay looking down on an emu racing back into the pine forest.

Maybe the meditation is having an effect, allowing me to be quick to appreciate life more often. The power of mindfulness.

We are Fifty and Flying not Falling.