YWP Discussion Panel
Posted 10 May 2017
Written by Courtney Brown
A famous British explorer from the 1800s, named Richard Francis Burton, coined the phrase “Conquer thyself, till thou hath done this, thou art but a slave; for it is almost as well to be subjected to another’s appetite as to thine own.” Not only does this quote perfectly emulate the theme of the Association's YWP discussion panel on Self Leadership, but the pioneering spirit of this historical author was a strong element underlying the guidance shared on the evening.
Upon arrival to the event held on Thursday, 20 April was a room of 80+ people who shared the enthusiasm to attend the long-awaited discussion panel on “Self Leadership: Knowing yourself before leading others” sponsored by Comdain, and MWH of Stantec. The event had been postponed due to the iconic Queensland rainfall event caused by Cyclone Debbie, which consequently turned into a flood a few weeks prior. Luckily the delay didn’t “dampen” the interest of any of the attendees.
From the beginning, there was a very inspirational share from MWH (of Stantec) of the outstanding projects that were led to fruition by the company. This set a vision for what successes self-leadership can really achieve through project management. Nick Convery (SMEC) opened the event, and Sam Picket (Queensland Urban Utilities) led the discussion for the evening. On the panel was Steve Gibson (Queensland Urban Utilities), Tony McAllister (Water Technology Pty Ltd), Gavin Blakey (representing Engineers Without Borders), and Sonia McDonald (LeadershipHQ), all of whom provided varying aspects of self-leadership experience and a wide berth of knowledge as a result.
Each panellist brought different elements of brilliance to the evening: Sonia provided a gutsy story of humble beginnings that lead her to the self-taught, self-motivated successes that she now celebrates. She also provided a neuroscience edge to the subject. She highlighted the importance of the RAS (reticular activating system), and how best to train it as a personal assistant to achieve a high return rate on positive thinking, self-talk and motivation.
Gavin Blakey was a great pioneer for the ultimate “bad” experience, indelibly impressed in his mind, which changed his life forever. His experience reiterated that even those who are highly focused on risks can still push their boundaries to “Just do it!” Also that it is okay to buy a car without doing a spreadsheet analysis beforehand.
Tony McAllister was the ultimate extroverted hype-man of the evening. He constantly egged the audience to push their boundaries to reach success, to believe in yourself, and that fear can be easily alleviated by just not (over)thinking about decisions that bring opportunities for growth. He encouraged the act of applying for the job when you only meet 60% of the criteria, and that self-belief needs to come before skills and aptitude.
Steve Gibson provided a very honest and frank recount of being a natural-born leader, who had many leadership titles and accolades prior to his professional life. Despite this, he still had to work hard at his own self-development after having an emotional encounter with one of his employees in the early days of his professional leadership journey. His focus was that effectiveness as a leader, even when self-leadership is an afterthought, can still be brought to a standard that harbours great successes.
A strong undercurrent from all the panellists was to be a pioneer of self, and just like Richard Francis Burton’s quote, not to be a slave to anything within yourself – but to have courage: Courage to make mistakes, courage to take risks, courage to push your comfort zone, courage to explore within yourself, courage to “just do it!”, courage to think as little as possible about something, and courage to just be authentically yourself! Any experience, whether good or bad is integral to developing a solid foundation for great character. Ultimately, this well-established character is inherently what will see you through to successful self-leadership.
Acknowledgement must be made to the Australian Water Association QLD YWP committee members who tirelessly organised and facilitated the event; Alexander Wise, Samuel Pickett, Nicholas Convery, Alycia Moore, Amira Haruwarta, and Courtney Brown. A big thank you also goes out to the sponsors Comdain
and MWH of Stantec
– without these sponsors our events wouldn’t be possible.