Today marks 2 years into my 8 week contract at the Y Northern Territory.
I left in search of adventure. Darwin was merely a pit stop en route to the UK. To my fantastic overseas experience.
Two months became four. Which became eight. Suddenly it’s two years later. I’m told it’s how the Territory gets you.
It’s an incredible place and one I probably wouldn’t have visited without the job.
I came here so ready to leave. So sure that the hot weather would push me away even if nothing else did. So certain that it would be a nice way to spend a few weeks before I ran away.
I had my heart set on London. Brisk mornings and British accents.
I’m so thankful for the advice that my Aunt Jacquie gave me. To be open to possibility. To keep the door open for something that might pull me in. And – most importantly – not to view this as a failed plan or lack of conviction. Instead, as an amazing opportunity to be seized if I was willing to change my mind.
I feel so deeply that I am where I’m meant to be. The Territory is a beautiful place, full of amazing people, experiences and opportunities.
I can absolutely say hand on heart that I’ve never felt more “in tune” with myself.
And it happened because I changed my mind.
I went back on my word. I flip flopped.
I’ve been re-watching West Wing lately and I’m up to the episode where Santos gets dragged for voting for a CAFTA bill in committee and against it on the floor (S7, E3).
“I voted for it in committee when it was a good bill, and then the special interests started hacking away at it and it was a mess by the time it got to the floor”.
He gets pummeled for this change in opinion.
It’s a common theme, especially in politics.
“Last week they said face masks weren’t needed and now it’s mandatory, they’re just making this up”.
“Climate scientists are all wrong, they keep changing their mind about when the world’s going to end”.
We attack politicians for changing their mind on issues, yet we demand they respond to their constituents and public opinion.
If they dare to consider an alternate point of view, if the goal posts move, if they learn something new, if they grow, they get hauled over the coals for it. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
We should celebrate reflection, changes in perspective and nuanced view points.
By now, society should know that binary lenses are rarely helpful.
The world is full of grey areas (including 50 problematic shades). We grapple with them everyday in our lives.
Yet, we expect politicians, leaders, scientists, experts to somehow rise above this and have all the answers.
It’s a very human response to try to put something in a box, to make sense of it and define what it is.
It’s also very human for things to be messy.
Our leaders are humans. They are us. They have different perspectives and life experiences, they make decisions the same way we do (without all the answers and expertise), and they are fallible.
If we expect our leaders to have all the answers, we do ourselves a disservice.
There’s absolutely a difference between changing your mind and lacking integrity.
We should absolutely expect leaders to put their money where their mouth is. We should expect their actions to match their words.
We should expect people to lead authentically.
But, we need to embrace leaders that change their mind thoughtfully. Leaders who listen to evidence, feedback, new information and come to a new conclusion if its warranted.
I believe that is leading with integrity.
Treating people with respect and intelligence.
Putting ego and stubbornness aside. Being willing to say “I was wrong”.
There is power and beauty in changing your mind. Let’s do more of it.