Book Review: The Australian Leadership Paradox

Paradox is the right word to use when discussing the relationships to leaders and views of leadership in Australia.  This “lucky country” has an interesting history that has fed into these paradoxes of leadership and authority.  I’m thankful for this book to help navigate some of the unspoken rules and general assumptions that a typical Australian wouldn’t question or think twice about.  But this book isn’t just for outsiders seeking to understand the system.  This book is a great read for Australians who want to unpack what may be obvious in regards to Australian leadership but also what sits, often hidden, beneath the surface.
Screen Shot 2017-02-07 at 8.04.45 PM.pngThe Australian Leadership Paradox: What it Takes to Lead in the Lucky Country by Geoff Aigner and Liz Skelton walks the line between critique and advice very well.  More than just stating the paradoxes themselves, they begin to tease out the why behind them.  And they also give examples of how Australian leadership can and should change for the better.  These examples are in the form of short stories which give context and I believe make them easily relatable as well.  Anyone who has ever struggled in a position of leadership in Australia could potentially find their story here.  And in finding their story, hopefully see how they could be empowered to change their leadership style for the better without losing some of the great things about being Australian.

This book is primarily talking to Australians about Australians and for that it speaks very well.  For me personally I will have to do my best to apply this knowledge appropriately because so far my interactions in Perth have been with very few Australians.  In the past month, I have met more immigrants or children of immigrants than anyone else.   This is maybe my own personal paradox, coming to Australia, seeking to know and understand Australians.  But instead of being surrounded by primarily born and raised, multi-generational Australians, I’m surrounded by an amazingly multinational, multiethnic community.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but my own definitions of what it means to be Australian are definitely being expanded.

Getting to Know Perth: Fringe Festival

Perth may be a small town masquerading as a big city but there seems to be some event or festival happening all the time.  Maybe it’s the time of the year but in addition to Australia Day and Chinese New Year events, Fringe Festival has taken over the city.  While out on the town yesterday evening there were lines of people waiting for shows, live music playing and a general festive tone.  Nothing was too full or busy for a Friday night but couples, groups of friends and families were all out enjoying the evening.

We explored Perth in a different way these past couple of weekends.  We walked around and watched some of the street performers, and I loved the mermaid tank.  Since we live in East Perth, everything is an easy bus ride or walking distance from our place.  We stumbled across the dress rehearsal for an open-air Opera on our way home yesterday and since it looked fun we’re headed back tonight for the show.screen-shot-2017-02-04-at-11-46-10-amBut so far the highlight of Fridge Festival for me has been the Djuki Mala dancers.  I went on Tuesday with friends to see their fun show.  It was a great mix of traditional Aboriginal dance and storytelling mixed with modern music and stylized performances.  Bollywood, Michael Jackson and singing in the rain, just to name a few.  It was a very fun way to spend an evening, getting a little more Australian culture with a fun, energetic twist.

American Politics in Australia

I’m an American, a citizen of the United States and unless something unexpected or drastic happens, that’s not changing anytime soon.  However, I’m living in a very multicultural city in Australia and meeting new people every day.  It doesn’t seem to matter what their background, pretty much everyone has some sort of interest in US politics.  I couldn’t escape the conversations if I tried, so I don’t try to avoid them, I listen.  Listening allows me to hear what others think and also gives me input to continually reexamine and check my own attitudes and assumptions as well as values and beliefs.  I am generally encouraged by these conversations and my personal convictions are strengthened, although I am often challenged to look deeper into certain issues and policies.  Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 1.59.50 PM.pngConversations aside, I do realize that I am somewhat removed from US current events.  Although, the news here covers the main issues and my Facebook feed is an ever present reminder.  But I’m not in the US so, even if I wanted to, I can’t join the marches and protests.  I am not around to be a part of certain US organizations that are on the frontline when it comes to refugee resettlement.  I don’t have the time or the energy to devote to writing to US political leaders or to organize something more substantial.  Even if I was still in my safe, insulated US community, I would probably find it difficult to engage appropriately with the current policies that I agree or disagree with.  This is what, in my experience, often leads to apathy.  I can’t be the only one who recognizes something should be done but then doesn’t have the time, energy, resources and/or knowledge to do anything that might be deemed worthwhile.  So what are our options?

  1. Pray – Pray for wisdom (James 1:5).  Pray for your leaders (I Timothy 2:1,2).  Pray for your enemies (Matthew 5:44).  Pray for those who agree with you.  Pray for those who disagree with you.  Pray.
  2. Read the Bible- Justice (Isaiah 1:17), mercy (Micah 6:8), love (Leviticus 19:18), compassion (Matthew 25:25-37), all of this and more is addressed in the pages of scripture.  I didn’t struggle to find verses here, the struggle was to choose just a few.  The Bible is an amazingly rich and holy resource.
  3. Love your Neighbor-  I mean your neighbor in the broader sense of Luke 10 (the parable of the Good Samaritan).  Your neighbors are those people you come into contact with during your daily life.  This can be as simple as loving and serving your family in your home, the person across the street, the man or woman who is driving next to you on the road, the person bagging your groceries, serving your meal at a restaurant, etc.
  4. Do What You Can- There are a lot of important issues that we can advocate for and be passionate about but refugees are close to my heart.  World Relief, one organization that I have worked with and respect just posted this to their blog: 3 Things You Can Do Right Now to Show Support for Refugees.  There are probably simple things to do online or in your community for almost every social cause that needs attention.

As divided as my Facebook feed is at the moment, I am generally encouraged by the real discussions that are happening, the hypocrisy that is being confronted across the board and those who are rising up to the challenge of practicing what they are preaching.  I can not fight every battle and shout from the mountain tops over every important issue.  But I can pray, I can read my Bible, I can love my neighbor and I can do what I can to live justly, love mercy and to walk humbly with my God.

Preparing For Australia Day

screen-shot-2017-01-25-at-2-15-36-pmWe see what’s happening from our balcony, as the grass between us and the Swan River is slowly being transformed for tomorrow’s event.  Our place will be the hub for our team to come and be a part of this Australian tradition because we’ll have a great view of the fireworks and we’re right on top of all the action.screen-shot-2017-01-25-at-2-15-58-pmPerth is preparing for Australia Day.  For all you Americans, think Columbus Day with celebrations like the 4th of July.  But just like Columbus Day is drawing criticism because it tends to ignore the people the land originally belonged to, Australia Day also has critics.  The city of Fremantle no longer has an Australia Day celebration and for my understanding of why, you can read my blog post from 2013: Australia Day also known as Invasion Day.screen-shot-2017-01-25-at-2-18-40-pmObserving and participating in these celebrations are part of us getting to know Australia, history and all.  And so we watch as the lawn below us turns into a carnival and a gathering place.  And tomorrow we’ll take part in the sausage sizzle, maybe some of the games and then a group of us will gather in our apartment and watch the fireworks.  Not a bad way to celebrate us being here in Australia together on our first Australia Day.Screen Shot 2017-01-25 at 2.53.27 PM.png

Getting to Know Perth- A Walking Tour

There are many different ways to learn about a city.  Sometimes you need a local guide to talk about why certain things are the way they are and to point out places or things that you might otherwise overlook.  Ryan and I decided to try out a local tour that seemed interesting and it turned out to be well worth our time and money.  If you come and visit us, we’ll probably send you on this tour too. (Check it out: Oh Hey WA!)  It was a great way to see the heart of the city, hear about local history, art, food and the future of what’s happening as well.

From the oldest building in Perth to the current revitalization of buildings in the city.  We were introduced to all the basics and then some.  This tour answered some of the questions I had about spaces I was seeing in the city as well as asked me to look up, down and around some corners that I wouldn’t have otherwise noticed.

The street art in Perth is pretty amazing, especially if you know where to look.  And when the tour guide mentioned two different pizza places in the city, she had Ryan’s attention.  One spot even has half priced pizzas on Wednesdays.  I know where we’re eating soon!

We also were introduced to some of the buildings and art installations that light up in the city.  This has inspired us to take more evening walks.  I’m hoping that those walks will lead us to a couple of the cool bars that our guide also mentioned.  Evidently there use to be no nightlife in the city but recently bars and restaurants have been opening up and making their mark.  After 5 o’clock there is a reason to be downtown now.

One thing I have noticed before was the mix of old and new in the city.  This tour just emphasized that this juxtaposition is the result of a lot of intentional work and planning.  And of course, I loved being introduced to some of the Noongar (aboriginal art) that can also be found around the city.  This was a wonderful way to spend our morning and now we have even more ideas of how to explore and enjoy this great city.

Let’s Do the Numbers- Black Friday Edition

Today is a day when many people will be out braving the crowds.  There are even Australians joining in the Black Friday sale shopping now.  But it’s still mostly Americans who will be starting their Christmas shopping or using this day to finish off their list.  And there are lots of people working in the stores to allow people to go out and do their shopping.  For those who don’t have to or don’t want to venture out, online shopping is easy and available.  From the comfort of your own home, you can try to get through your must buys with the utmost efficiency, snag that one thing you really want for yourself or even buy something you need at a great price.  I personally really enjoy getting just the right gift for someone.  screen-shot-2016-11-24-at-7-03-15-pmSo while you’re out shopping or better yet, doing your gift buying online, don’t forget Ryan and I have a Christmas list this year too.  Taking a cue from our current amazing faithful givers, gifts from $10 a month up to $300 a month all make a difference.  The last amount we need now is for our rent in Australia.  You can even sign up on your computer in order to avoid the Black Friday lines (Black Friday Giving- Ryan and Joy’s Housing Fund).

We are currently at 85%!  In our last update, about 10 days ago (November Giving) we asked about 200 givers to help us get the last 20% by giving $12 a month each.  We now would love you to do your part in helping us have enough support to rent our own apartment in West Perth near the University of Western Australia.  You can give any amount (monthly, quarterly, yearly, etc) but here is a breakdown of what we still need.  Will you be one of the 41 individuals, families or churches to help us have enough for our weekly (yes weekly!) rent?

5 faithful givers @ $100 a month = $500
15 faithful givers @ $50 a month = $750
10 faithful givers @ $30 a month = $300
11 faithful givers @ $10 a month = $110

How do you give?  Simply contact the MTW donations office at 1-866-373-6133 but don’t call until Monday because they are all out shopping or with their families:-)  But if you want to give right now you can use MTW’s online giving site for us: Ryan and Joy.  Any questions?  Feel free to ask me, I will happily help you through the process.

November Matching is Still Available!  Hopefully you saw our October Newsletter but if you didn’t, you should know that we have a generous couple who has agreed to match every new reoccurring pledge in November with a one-time gift.  This will continue through November 30th.  This matching has the potential of raising over $2000 towards our ministry.  We’d love to take full advantage of this generosity and we can only do that with new pledges in November.

Thank you to everyone who has already been giving and for those of you praying for us!  Ryan and I continue to be blown away at how God is providing.  Please continue to pray.  Please pray that we would have the full amount for our rent when we leave in December.  But first, we’re going to enjoy the rest of our time in the US and that includes Black Friday.