Monthly Archives: September 2017

Promises to tomorrow #37 #Surrender

The word surrender has it’s roots in Latin – to give back. Surrender is not giving up it is giving back. Giving back power. Running the white flag up the flag pole the sign to the other side that you are no longer in the battle, is a way to bring the battle to an end. It is a concession this way is no longer working and what little agency you may have left you will not use your energy to fight. Instead you will say enough and be still, and wait for the other to make its next move, perhaps they will come to the table, perhaps they will keep marching through. These moments are marked by a signature on a treaty, the fallen before and often after the surrender.

A surrender is never done lightly and takes courage. Amidst cries of humiliation, curses for not lasting longer, regret for not being better prepared; there is calm the decision made and whatever lies ahead the recognition you are now on the threshold and used the last of your actions to no longer consort with the other – you are out of the dance.

Would anyone watching Shark Tank, think when one of the sharks says “I’m out” that they have surrendered? I doubt it – we all watch and see that as a sign of confidence in their own ability of knowing what is right for them at this time, often lacking in compassion for what is being brought to them – it isn’t surrender though.

I am privy to surrender each day making its way through a body struggling with breath, the mind and body tussling for authority. The mind takes out the early battles while the body wins the war. More of my love is living outside of his body each day, finding the oldest meaning for surrender – giving back.

My promise to tomorrow is to continue to take lessons in surrender and to ask myself what and perhaps how am I giving back when lay down my weary tune? There is an openness to the mystery of what lies ahead when you surrender, it may come reluctantly and with great angst.

The threshold from acceptance to change arrives with surrender … and isn’t really a single moment, it is multiple moments.  The flag doesn’t arrive already unfurled. It has been packed, needs to be found and made ready before it is presented. Letting go breath by breath, thought by thought, bite size giving back. Surrender as an everyday discipline, prepares us for the one time it will define us.

“We live between the act of awakening and the act of surrender. Each morning we awaken to the light and the invitation to a new day in the world of time; each night we surrender to the dark to be taken to play in the world of dreams where time is no more. At birth we were awakened and emerged to become visible in the world. At death we will surrender again to the dark to become invisible. Awakening and surrender: they frame each day and each life; between them the journey where anything can happen, the beauty and the frailty.” – John O’Donohue – Beauty the Invisible Embrace

surrender

 

 

 

Promises to tomorrow #36 #Equity

I am living in multiple liminal spaces. There are comings and goings all around me. The call and response to move and to be still. The ever present need to have feet firmly planted.  This space is a threshold to reflect on the now and bring a promise to tomorrow from the now.  In these in-between times my other lives continue to unfold. Relationships don’t fall away, work commitments wane. Invitations for change-making and sharing ideas bubble on through the cracks.  Switching between midwifery to new ventures in the public domain to midwifery of another kind in the private.  So for today’s post I am sharing my response to a call to contribute in the public domain. In marketing terms this might be thought of a cross promotion, but it is an endeavour to bring all of me to all of the liminal spaces in my life and so why not on these pages too?

I first got introduced to equity as a model of growth by Dr Michael McAfee of PolicyLink.  This week I am going to be talking about a movement I have founded.  Here is what I am planning to say. I am using my five minutes for speculative fiction.

Date: September 2027 Headline: SA achieves another first

South Australia has become the first place in the world to reach 50% of investment, and return on that investment, going to women. Ten years ago SA set a 50:50 target – gender equity in investment for women in startups and social enterprises.

The levers used to get this result included: changes in procurement policies, education to get more girls into STEM and coding, capital – from venture capital to impact investing – setting their own gender targets, more women in board rooms and around the cabinet table.

Industry leaders, local and State government, set the foundations for early wins by all signing the panel pledge for gender balance at their conferences and events. Councils and State entities added it as a criteria in tender documents for global conventions wanting to use their venues. After all: “if you can’t see it you can’t be it”. Having women visible, publicly acclaimed, out front, all the time, no exceptions, made an impact and is now the norm.

The State Procurement Board set targets for social enterprises, BCorps and co-ops to win contracts. It was amazing how quickly business adjusted, eager to showcase their capabilities & gender credentials as part of their transition to the on purpose economy.

A little tougher, but achieved, was getting more women onto the runway for startups. Startmate and Techstars were early adopters and got 50% women into their second and third South Australian rounds. While the research showed in 2017 you only needed half as much investment in female founded startups to double your money, up until then no-one had cracked the code on how to make it happen.

There were collaborations between startups and social enterprises that ignited change at scale. From nanotechnology for monitoring the well-being of remote populations through to home kitchens creating nutritional meals for people with disabilities and their carers – these ideas started here – with women and with investment. Digitising the “blue book” by pairing it with SA’s world class Datalink, built and transferred knowledge about child development, established real time data and brought agile funding and resource delivery, when and where it was needed most. Consequently, SA became famous for its non-invasive early intervention approach to child protection.

The gender pay gap was always lowest in South Australia and the Equal Opportunity Commissioner was able to point to the Google 2017 class action to help spur on the tech and creative industries who had always lagged behind. SA reached gender wage parity in 2025 and despite a few laggers, leaders pointed to the economic truth: diversity equals dollars and gender was a no brainer, truly low hanging fruit.

There are still some sticking points in the eco-system: In 2017 there were 4% of women in venture capital it is now 15%. The number of women CEOs in start ups hasn’t shifted from 30% since 2022, and the number of women academics researching and growing graduates for the on purpose economy continues to oscillate around 35 – 40% – while there is plenty to celebrate in 2027 we ain’t there yet!

If you want to know more about how SA got these results, look around the town for VR clips embedded in the landscape telling stories of women innovators and entrepreneurs. Tap any leader – male or female – and ask them how they got involved and what they did to contribute. It has been a collective effort fuelled by passion, good ideas, imagination, wisdom – trading in trust, built on relationships and in a spirit of generosity, fostered by women and men who wanted to unlock and unleash the potential of South Australia.

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SA has been the home of many first’s for women that then went global or national – first in Australia for women to get the vote, first in the Westminster system for women to earn the right to stand for Parliament, first State to have a female Supreme Court Judge and first woman governor, SA was first state to have secondary school for girls, University of Adelaide was first in Australia to accept women students, first place for a woman police officer in the British empire, first hospital for mothers and babies in Australia, first woman elected to local government, first sex discrimination act in Australia, first place in the Commonwealth to legislate against rape in marriage. We had the first women wharfies, the first woman fork-lift driver, and the first woman Ombudsman.

And what have I got to do with all of this? I am the founder of Chooks. Chooks is emerging as an independent intermediary– building connections online and face to face, change-making through advocacy, policy advice and collaborations to nurture the transition to a profitable on purpose economy and a meaningful on purpose community. We are leaving behind single definition problems and linear solutions to appreciating complexity and working at systems level by using the levers that already exist or getting some out of the way and making new ones.

Launched in May this year as a humble self- organising closed facebook group of 100. This week we have reached 600, clearly a need being filled. Chooks is rooted in our history and our potential. It is unapologetically South Australian. Chooks is not a lab, an incubator, an investor. Chooks is a movement, leading, driving and striving for inclusive entrepreneurship.

Like all movements Chooks converges culture, activism and knowledge.

If you share the desire for equity as a model for growth and want to apply a gender lens to get there, you are invited to join us.

Copy of Strut Your Stuff

Promises to tomorrow #35 #detach

 I am finding it hard to write, words don’t seem to cut it. This is a little reflection.

Detachment is a big ask after forty years and one at which I am a novice. There are rituals to support the practice. Drugs to administer and breaths to be taken to bring stillness and steadiness to the process of disappearing.

As David Whyte has written we are all apprentices to our disappearance and here I am doing my apprenticeship with a master craftsman, who is slowing dissolving from one plane to another. While he sleeps a few more cells transcend. Transfiguration at the speed of breath concentrated, distilled. The nails are translucent as very little blood is flowing. The skin starting to shed. As the climber reaches the summit there is less oxygen in the air, his arterial oxygen about the same as someone more than half way up Mt Everest, an ascent which doesn’t abate and one from which you can never return. Stars are on this last runway, twinkling to guide the way and beckoning gently to come forward. Fresh eyes, weary heart.

What you can plan
is too small
for you to live.

What you can live
wholeheartedly
will make plans enough
for the vitality
hidden in your sleep.

David Whyte

Each breath is a call and response – an inhale and exhale – contracting and expanding. Breathing in the oxygen and expelling the carbon dioxide – a waste product. Wasting is what happens on the inside when we don’t pay attention to breathing in and breathing out.

My promise to tomorrow is to try and detach more from my thoughts of wasted time and energy. The present is here, is now and is inspirational even though it forecasts expiration. There are mountains to climb, views to be seen, a transfiguration to witness.

Promise to tomorrow 34 #Dad

It is Father’s Day and likely to be last one for the man who joined with me to bring life into this world. His fathering going beyond biology to a deeper place where what it means to be human is at the centre of parenting, not solely the genetic code exchanged, incubated and grown. The cellular level of life is magical and mystical and when mixed with all the environmental variables brings plenty of challenges – as all parents know. There is a numbness when the realisation arrives you are not in control of what genes, what influences, what decisions are made and your parenting is improvisation because every opportunity arrives in its own unique packaging. Being a Dad is not the same as being a father and there is a wonderful scene from MASH about that worth watching.

Charles: “I always assumed that that’s how it was in every family. But when I see the warmth, closeness, the fun of your relationship… My father’s a good man. He always wanted what was best for me. But where I have a father, you have a dad.”Sons and Bowlers Originally Broadcast: Monday, March 22nd, 1982 Written by Elias Davis & David Pollock Directed by Hy Averback

With all the hyperbole about same-sex marriage couples it’s worth calling out that being a Dad goes beyond supplying half the chromosomes. My Dad loved his footy, his books, thinking, education, food, wine, family. I didn’t notice him fathering other people, but I did notice him fathering me and my brothers. And even though he has been dead for a decade now, I still notice him fathering me. I often consider on what advice or reflect on what he might bring to my decision-making.

To become a father is not to arrive at a station called Dad and to stay there on the platform – you need to get on that train.

Fathering unfolds

Cuddles and coos

Sleepless nights

to more sleepless nights.

Being held

Holding being

Transits and eclipses

Dates and decisions.

Destiny: Dad

As the man who became the Dad of our children reaches the ends of his days I know they will have his wisdom to draw on forever. They will have their first hand experience of their own relationship with him, the knowledge gained through observation of watching him with others, fecund imagination to draw on from his energy and spirit – a gentle soul, firmly grounded in his relationship to his Abba. He often talks about that – a ‘Daddy’ as opposed to a stern masculine Zeus like god; his relationship is deeply personal with deep roots. It is a relationship made for two only – no third party can penetrate – it’s just the two of them. And so it is with each of his children – just the two of them in these intimate spaces.

At each of the baptisms we sang Bob Dylan’s Forever Young as a blessing for them and it was in the spirit of wanting them to stay like children – open to wonder and surprises; willing to take risks when it seemed right to do so, to build, climb from a strong and firm place in their lives. Good fathering has enabled each of them to grow into their potentialities, examine truths, speak their truth to power and rest in the confident knowledge they are loved. This doesn’t come easily for any parent and for a father who might have wanted a first XI cricketer and got someone with an aversion to sport … these are trivial and unimportant for the harvest is abundant. Destined to be a Dad, he is joyful, glowing, still singing his song, and his voice will be a blessed earworm for all of their days.

My promise to tomorrow is to call out the difference between being a father and being a Dad.

“Forever Young” by Bob Dylan

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the light surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.