Seated in the very back row on a Singapore Airlines flight from Cairns to London, gazing out from my window seat into beautiful blue sky, white fluffy clouds and rich teal ocean below; it’s time to close the book of 2017.  To reflect, write, share, and then shelve it; quickly!

Franky, I am so ready to slap 2017 shut, that if yearbooks came with padlocks, I’d be locking it up and tossing the key.  Perhaps that’s a little harsh, but it certainly has been a year of unexpected challenges, unnecessary disruption, changes and other crap stuff that no average Joe would choose.

Hang on a minute, you say: ‘Jilinda, you are a self-proclaimed ‘Change Champion’ … you love change and disruption. You love a challenge and often rise up to challenge unacceptable status quo … right?’

TRUE!   And what’s more, the irony is I announced to the world in a blogpost and my Facebook banner on January 1st 2017, that:

2017 -  It's time for revolutionary change’ …

Maybe I should be more careful what I wish for?

At the time, I was referring to the exciting 2017 plans my partner and I had mapped out to influence, initiate and lead several positive changes and pro-active projects … and we DID do that.  Or at least we WERE successfully doing those things and inspiring many others in the regional community to get on board ‘the positive change train’; right up until May 8th, 2017. A shocking, unethical, deceitfully plotted decision by those in trusted positions of authority, stopped us in our tracks.  At least, that track; well temporarily anyway.

Forced to abandon all that we both had worked so hard to establish during almost two years of commitment to this community [fully intended to be a six-year stint], due to unbelievable malicious and vexatious personal attacks on our own integrity; we were left reeling, raw, and rumbling for a few months.

Wrong is always wrong, and right will always be found to be right.  It just takes a little time and a lot of patience for the truth to surface, and even longer for the perpetrators to admit to their wrongful behaviours.  The process was frustrating and time consuming. The easiest decision is to walk away and do nothing.   But, that’s not what leaders do.

I absolutely believe that the behaviour you walk passed or stay silent about, is the behaviour you accept or condone.  I will never accept such poor community leadership behaviour, but I will also not allow it to consume me, or reduce me, or distract me from my purpose. 

True to what we champion; we considered our choices, revised our plan, re-established, and rose up stronger for the experience. Even more determined to make a positive difference.  Even more focused on our purpose – to raise the leadership bar; both in quality and quantity.  With even more evidence to support the critical need for the development services we provide. Even more stories to share in workshops, presentations, and writings.

In fact, our home / business base re-location to Cairns Northern Beaches in July, provided the opportunity and perfect timing to refresh our company brand and launch our new website, with a much stronger, more on-point message: 

Vital LEADERS … Dare to Lead Dynamically

Inspirers of Change, Igniters of Growth, Influencers of Positive Results.

Our purpose is clear and intentional.  Our new brand and website are deliberately bold and bravely personal. We have risen from the rumble with nothing to hide, nothing to be ashamed of, and nothing we would have done differently.

Yes, of course … there’s always things that we ‘could’ have done differently, but on reflection; we wouldn’t have.  We will not play small to suit other’s insecurities. We will not be part of deceitful and unethical decision making.  We will not bow to bullies or become one.   We will not drop our values or integrity standards.  And we never did.

What we know for sure from our 2017 experiences, is that we have grown stronger for the lessons and built far more resilience.  Just as well … right on time for the 2017 final shit-storm – a disruptive December.

Yes, there’s more. Just as we were enjoying the positive business benefits from months of foundational re-establishment; the gods of 2017 decided to test us again … and again.  December has dealt us some further challenging blows.  We’ve had a house break in, keys taken and our 2 cars stolen [one only 3 weeks old], theft of gym equipment and other small items, my business credit card compromised [unrelated to break in], and just yesterday – my partner’s adult son had a major motocross bike accident and has multiple fractures to wrist, ribs, pelvis and lower back.

Lucky I’m not superstitious, or I probably would not have boarded the flight I’m now on. But, I reckon I’ve well and truly had my slice of crap-cake this year.

That shared, I hope you’ll forgive me for a somewhat less positive salute to 2017 than my usual, uplifting articles.  I believe in being authentic - the real me; no rose-coloured glasses, no fake smiles. Telling it as it is. 2017 was more challenging than some years, but geez – it was jam packed full of lessons.

Valuable lessons.  Timely lessons.  Habit changing lessons. 

Character strengthening lessons.

Lessons that I’m grateful for and that we now use to make better informed decisions. On reflection, 2017’s lessons may quite possibly provide the strongest and fastest spring-board leap into a new year, that I’ve ever experienced.

So, just before I take that fast-forward leap into 2018, here’s my 7 R’s salute to the year that was 2017.  It certainly was ... 

ROBUST … My 2017 kick off was vibrant and progressive, including: an Authors Retreat [January], new Lean In Circle established [February], International Women’s Day celebrations facilitation [March], elected Chamber of Commerce President [March], Speakers Retreat [April] …  then boom!

REELING … Unexpected and unnecessary push-back against us in May – June, for what appears to be self-preservation motives. Lesson:  I have no control over other’s behaviours; they own that shit.  I have control and am responsible for my own behaviours and how I respond.  Fully and proudly own that.

REVEALING … Two main revelations or reinforcements for me: 

1. Dig a little deeper, ask more questions, do more background checks, find out other’s motives and until that is revealed -  trust a little less liberally.

2. FFS! – listen to my gut instincts.  Once again, my intuition was screaming at me, at least six months before May 8th.  Reinforcing what my Neuroscience colleagues state about our 3-brain decision making:  your gut instinct knows before your brain does the facts analysis, and before your heart believes it.  Trust your gut. It already knows.

REALIGNED … Every problem can be turned into opportunities. In fact, as a change champion, I often find big problems become so small and insignificant, when you start exploring the new opportunities. Better doors seem to always open when you slam the misaligned ones shut. There’s good reason why I have a tattoo on the base of my neck which says:

Never Look Back 

REFRESHED … One of our greatest achievements this year was, in the midst of all that rumbling, using our ‘pause time’ to consolidate our company's values. We have become so much clearer in purpose and direction, refreshed our brand, mission statements, created and launched our new website. There’s nothing like a make-over to shake off the heavy crap and showcase our vibrant strengths.

ROCKY … OK, so I’m not afraid to rock boats, or challenge an unacceptable status quo.  Those who rock, should be prepared to live a rocky life, right? Well – yes and no.  Not every change or rocky path is good.  Shit happens to good people too, and sometimes you just have to rumble with it for a while, to process the realities. Lesson learned:  I've reassessed and changed a few habits, because the world has changed, and security and safety are now a higher priority.  For example: we no longer have a 'keys and miscellanious' bowl on our kitchen bench! 

RESILIENCE BUILDING … To say our resilience was tested in 2017, is an understatement. And yet, on reflection, it is tested every day in all sorts of ways. What I know for sure is when you are openly clear on your values, ethics and motivators, and every decision you make is driven by that; you have nothing to fear. No one can take that away from you. Regardless of what others say or do, your actions will always speak loudest.

Finally, as I look out of the airplane window onto a Singapore bay full of large ships and surrounded by skyscraper offices full of ’potential’ leaders, I reflect that perhaps the one biggest 2017 reinforced lesson for me, was this: 

authentic, genuine, ethical leadership matters.

Those essential leadership traits are at the core of everything we are and everything we do. It is both our personal and professional foundation,  and the foundational reason for our company.  

So with the strength built from what 2017 threw at us, I’m ready to leap into 2018.

It will be exciting. It will be jam packed full of action. It will be as colourful as the fireworks over the Thames River in London tomorrow night.

2018 will be the year of … [you’ll have to read next week’s article] :) 

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