Getting way outside my comfort zone (GLF 2016 Part One)

If you know me, you’ll know I’m pretty sure of who I am. Let’s just call it self-assured.

Something happened about a month ago that made me question everything. I went in all excited and I came out feeling completely unsure of myself. I know, right. It was weird.

So what was this mysterious confusion-sparking event? The first retreat of the Governor’s Leadership Foundation (GLF) program. GLF brings together people from across South Australia – business, government and community leaders. It’s about putting people with different views, experiences, personalities and working styles together.

The GLF is a program designed to challenge, inspire and confront through “experiential, reflective and interactive learning” and it certainly does that. I came away from the first retreat feeling much more together whilst also feeling very pulled apart.

I expected to learn a lot, I expected plenty of perspective-taking and understanding how other people think and operate. I expected deep discussion with excellent people. These expectations were well and truly met.

I didn’t expect that in the process my emotions would be poked and prodded and I would come away questioning the parts of me I thought were set in stone. The core parts of who you are.

This is a very uncomfortable feeling. Since the retreat I have definitely felt off-balance, confused and less sure of decisions I’m making.

I love it.


Why am I doing this?

I was told at the beginning of the Governor’s Leadership Foundation Program that I’m not going to be the same person at the end of the year.

This is terrifyingly exciting. It’s both the reason I’m doing the program and the reason the program intimidates me. How do you plan for different?

As much as I hope I’ll wake up one day and magically be different, I suspect it will be more like the feeling you get when you read your old journals… You know that puzzling feeling when you’re half reminiscent and half trying to figure out why the hell you didn’t see he just wasn’t that into you?

I’m a firm believer in stepping outside your comfort zone, I love the idea of ongoing development, continual learning, a growth mindset – whatever you want to call it.

After all, the world changes so rapidly. There are new challenges and new opportunities all the time. Why wouldn’t we want to be continually improving ourselves?

Apparently, I am also a fan of getting myself into programs that scare the shit out of me. Well played, past Alana.

Growth is a scary thing. Especially real growth, not just additional learning or study, but fundamentally questioning and improving who you are. Scary, but important.

I want to know that I’m living the biggest life I can. It’s not enough to exist just trying not to screw the world up. I want to  create big, positive change. I want to connect dots, connect people and take risks. I’m lucky to be in this position and I don’t intend on wasting a second.

That’s why I’m doing the GLF.


Why me?

We were asked at our introductory session whether anyone (after reading everyone else’s biographies in the handbook) felt like they shouldn’t be there. My hand shot up… into a sea of hands. Pretty much everyone felt like an imposter .

It’s hard not to. There are some seriously impressive people in the program. As participants we’re tasked with bringing about positive change in SA and let me assure you, the state is in very safe hands.

Our selection is no accident, they very deliberately chose the group of participants after a very intense application process.

The GLF interview was unlike any other interview I’ve been part of. I spent the best part of an hour talking to a panel of five about my childhood, my relationships, my hopes and dreams. This was no time for trumpeting skills or expertise. They wanted to know who was.

I walked out thinking I’d blown it, that I hadn’t given them the answers they were after. They asked where I was headed and what my career goals were. I could have sworn that I had it all figured out, but when I unveiled my grand plan, they asked “and what else?”. That interview alone was a very useful change in perspective.

While I’m still building confidence in myself that this is my place, that I’m meant to be part of GLF2016, I place my confidence in the team at the Leaders Institute. I trust that they saw something in all of us, a spark, a passion, a readiness.


Governor’s Leadership Foundation program is run by the Leaders Institute of South Australia. You can find out more about the institute and the program here.

Part of my participation in the program is generously funded by the Community Business Bureau through their Keith Fulton memorial scholarship. You can find out more about them (including  their BoardMatch service and salary packaging) here.

The 2016 Governor’s Leadership Foundation cohort at Government House. Pretty special group of people to be surrounded by.




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