Are you ready to redefine success?

first nations disadvantage

What’s your definition of success?  Are you ready to redefine success? 

 This month we’ll witness two milestone moments that make these questions impossible to ignore.  

 First up, the Voice. Regardless of outcome, the Voice illustrates an enduring challenge for all Australians seeking to understand, acknowledge, and address the historical injustices and ongoing impacts of colonisation on First Nations people.  

 While we support a ‘Yes’ vote to elevate the voices of First Nations people, and accept the gracious hand of reconciliation that has been extended, neither a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ vote will immediately fix the entrenched, complex problems faced by First Nations people – whether it’s economic disadvantage, healthcare, or social isolation.  

 Then we have the Disability Royal Commission report. The stories of many people with disability experienced were heard, considered, and reflected in more than 220 recommendations.  

 Clearly the violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation faced by Australians living with disability is a source of national shame. We welcome the report’s recommendations which seek to create a safe, inclusive and violence free future for people with disability.  

 It will take ongoing commitment across our community to acknowledge the truth of our past and create equal opportunities for all Australians. 

 However, there’s a long road ahead and it’s easy to get lost in debates about the best way to get there. Social change is rarely free from conflict because we humans seem to prefer a comfortable status quo.  

 Yet the good thing to remember right now is we rarely get too comfortable. As a nation, we’ve had tough conversations before.  

 Since 1901, the government has held more than 64 Royal Commissions. Scanning through the list on the Parliament House website, a recurring theme jumped out.  

 The topics of enquiry vary across a range of industry sectors and issues, but the common denominator is we, the people. How can we make life better for people and communities?  

 If people are being harmed, disadvantaged, or exploited, the government (eventually) takes a long, hard look at the issues and attempts to fix the system. As citizens, we work our way through difficult conversations and build consensus on building a better future.  

 Setting our national penchant for cynicism and critique aside for a moment, the story behind the stories is very clear. Change is very much part of the Australian DNA. We might not always like it, but good things do happen in our society when we commit to achieving them.  

 So, here’s a way forward for impatient types like me who know we need to move even faster. 

 Let’s borrow an idea from James P. Carse’s book Finite and Infinite Games, also popularised by Simon Sinek in The Infinite Game. 

  1. Recognise the futility of a finite mindset. You might “win” the next quarter, or year, with better numbers than your competitors – but to what end? 
  2. Shift your thinking to the infinite game. That is, the goal of any organisation is to stay in the game – to stay in business. 
  3. Embrace your “just cause.” Your purpose isn’t to win, or beat the competition, or even just make more money. Rediscover your heartbeat: that social or environmental cause that unifies your team.  

To answer our opening question, success won’t be defined by our global rankings or economic performance. It will be the number of people and communities who experience better health and wellbeing.   

 It’s a journey with no ‘destination,’ but that’s why milestone moments like the publication of Royal Commission reports matter. They help us course correct and set new milestones that matter. That, to me, is a great way to redefine success for our country and our organisations.  


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