Throughout my life taking hold of a group or situation has always come naturally. Perhaps this is because performance was always fostered in my family by both my Mum and Dad. Growing up going to a Catholic church, you sang whether you were good or not. Thankfully, for myself and my brothers, we managed to get some aspect of tone and hold a tune, even when the hymns would go right through the musical scales… and back again.
Not only did I have my brothers but also Dad singing in full voice. Our Dad, a physics teacher, rowing coach and coach of the first 15 was not afraid to round up the boys from rugby to be part of the James Hargest School productions and didn’t hesitate to join in himself. I have a very clear picture of him and his loud voice playing a Policeman in the Pirates of Penzance.
We grew up with our Grandad as head coach of our swimming club and Mum following suit, in an equally strong voice directing excited young children on the side of a rowdy swimming pool. Our Parents were really supportive, taking us to music, drama, soccer, T-ball, rugby, swimming and anything else we were interested in.
Growing up around the High School, I witnessed my Dad, the Principal, fellow Teachers and Assistant Coaches doing their best to guide and coach young men to victory in rugby. As a three year old wearing an oversized version of the team colours, match ball in my hand and gumboots on my feet, I was exposed to rousing pre-match speeches and swearing. Before I was even at kindy I was winning the rugby world cup in my back yard, and I was the Captain who was to lift the trophy.
Being a leader was always a place I wanted to put myself and a place I continue to strive to be, its something I have admired by those people close to me and I have been lucky that I have had leadership mentorship from the day I was born. So when a great community leader, Bill Robinson sent me a text asking me if I would like to be part of RYLA (Rotary Young Leaders Award) my answer was an immediate “YES!” with a quickly followed “I will make sure I can do this from my work, I’m sure they will be supportive.”
RYLA is made up of many people from many walks of life, at many places in their leadership journey and of many different methods of leadership. I found my mind going at a thousand miles an hour as all these subconscious methods and psychologies were presented to me and reinforced why I had been successful in some aspects and missed the mark so badly in others.
For many participants RYLA helped them to explore their physical, mental and emotional boundaries. For myself, physical outdoor education tasks were pure enjoyment. The mental aspect blew my mind; personality types, communication methods, how you learn and master something. How self ownership, self awareness and self talk can all lead to self improvement and achievement of goals, and how to convey, organise and influence towards others can allow a project or idea to come to effect. It was blazingly highlighted to me my need to stop and listen, as well as to accept collaboration and opinions on my ideas to create an even more successful outcome and how the person in a group who says the least often is the person who should be asked first.
In saying that, it reminded me that I have a voice and I have the ability to speak in front of people. The take home point from the RYLA public speaking seminar was during your time public speaking, you will only be talking, connecting and relating to one person. With this in mind, consider the following: what is the difference between speaking to one person, a conference or a stadium full of people?
In conclusion, if a community leader from Rotary taps you on the shoulder and invites you to be a part of RYLA, even if you do not believe that you are a leader in the traditional sense, please highly consider saying yes, because in one week, the RYLA journey will change your life.