I have often heard the term “life changing” used in a way that to me seems over the top. Becoming a parent or getting married are events that to my mind are life changing and as such that term shouldn’t be attached to an Anthony Robbins self help course that includes a free book and a complimentary fire walking experience.
This stance left me in somewhat of a quandary on returning from the first session of the Australian Rural Leadership Program (ARLP) and contemplating how I would describe an experience that had a profound effect on me.
To be honest all the alternatives to “life changing” that I came up with sounded pretty wanky but after lengthy scotch fuelled deliberation I settled on “life guiding”. Now while I admit this is still not great it was the best I could manage under the circumstances.
As I alluded to in my last post there was little information given as to what the 26th Cohort of the ARLP would face during our fortnight in the Kimberley. This was a theme that continued right up until the point we received a red A5 booklet with Safety Manual emblazoned on the front cover. The effect this publication had on the group was enhanced somewhat by the stapled middle pages on “Times to Death” that caught everyone’s attention. Having been told to read the booklet during a flight from Darwin to Kununurra the entire group did so with the end result being that only Mao Tse Tung’s little red book has likely effected a group of people more than the Outback Initiatives Safety Manual.
The primary purpose of the ARLP is to develop leaders that are able to bring about change for the greater good of rural, regional and remote Australia. The course has been running for 26 years with one of the key reasons for it’s success being the secrecy that surrounds the first session and the fact that no-one discusses the details of what future participants will experience.
I admit that when I first heard this it smacked a little of the “Fight Club” mentality but on completing this part of of the ARLP journey I fully understand why maintaining the integrity of the Kimberley experience is vital to the success of this iconic program.
In a personal first for me I am at a loss as to how to put into words what I experienced during my time in the Kimberley. In truth I started writing this blog months ago and have struggled with how best to or even whether I should complete it.
On reflection any experience in this day and age when you are forced to give up all your technology for a 12 day period could be seen as somewhat radical yet in truth this was likely the least challenging element during my time away.
The challenges faced were made palatable and at times even enjoyable by the incredible group of people I shared this experience with. Cohort 26 of the ARLP is made up of 35 people from incredibly diverse backgrounds who nonetheless all share a passion for the betterment of rural and regional Australia.
Five of this Cohort plus our fearless facilitator Mike made up the syndicate Kimberley Dreaming and for the two weeks we were together they did become my family. Leanne, Sally, Stu, Kylie, Bruce and I were quite literally thrown together and required to almost immediately trust each other implicitly. Bonds forged in this environment are ones that will last lifetime although on occasion my camping ineptitude may have pushed these bonds to the limit!
I keep expecting and on the odd occasion even hoping that the changes wrought will only be temporary ones and may dull with time. As the days have turned into weeks and now months since I returned to Topwell I firmly believe that the ARLP will have a profound and lasting effect on me. While It remains to be seen whether all these changes are positive ones their is no doubt that they will be impactful as well as influential in the journey I have ahead of me.
In relation to the Kimberley journey I have decided images would be the best way to share it and on that note I would like to acknowledge the generosity of Kimberley Dreaming members for allowing me to use their photos.