Never Stop Learning

29 Aug 2019

Education and personal development are integral to the success of our charity Hands Across the Water. Education is the vehicle to empower our kids and open up pathways they may never have had the chance. We encourage all of the children in our homes to never stop learning and our work provides them with ample opportunities to achieve their own personal goals and dreams.

At Hands, we flip the tables once a year and bring education to our community of corporate leaders, teams and individuals across three countries through our Future of Leadership roadshow. This one-day event is an inspiring collaboration between some of Australia’s best speakers and I have to say it really does deliver magic. The roadshow not only inspires our audiences but every year it challenges me personally around my own leadership.

Stepping into the role of General Manager with Hands Group earlier this year was a step outside of my comfort zone. I have had multiple management roles during my career leading some amazing teams, but as I stepped into this new world, I questioned what it would take to be a good leader in this space. The answer became clear to me a few weeks ago that the key to my leadership journey will be to never stop learning.

I wanted to share a few of the nuggets of wisdom that struck a chord with me this year as I continue to learn in my new role.

Give people a compelling reason to stay - Ashley Fell, McCrindle

Put simply, help your people reconnect their hearts with their minds. Give people a compelling reason to come to work each day. Give them a sense of purpose. It might be one of the most overused words in today’s world (1.9billion google search results) but knowing your why is still so relevant in all that we do.

A month ago I was getting ready to present our business strategy to our team. I had my keynote presentation that I had spent hours crafting to share our vision, our objectives for the year, and detail around the initiatives that we were going to focus on. But something was missing.

The heart and soul of our organisation was missing. The connector between our hearts and minds. In my new big shoes I was too focused on what we were going to achieve and how we would do that.

Our organisation exists as a social enterprise to fund the operation of our charity Hands Across the Water. But, ultimately we exist to provide 350 children with a life of choice rather than one of chance. I needed to connect back in with that and I needed my team to connect back in with that. So I added one more slide.

When the hills we are climbing feel like a bit of a struggle, when the meeting we just had did not go our way, when the product we just launched didn’t quite hit the targets we expected, we dust ourselves off, learn from our failures, reconnect our heart and mind, and we get back to work.

For us at Hands, our kids and their future genuinely matter. Our kids bring our work alive with purpose. And, our kids challenge us to be the best version of ourselves. Which leads me to my point.

Work on being a better human - Darren Hill

Darren sums it up beautifully when he says if we turn up a better person, we turn up a better leader. Find the good within and stop worrying about walking in someone else’s shoes or trying to fit in the mould of expectations that someone else sets for you. Recognise that you are on your own remarkable journey and it is up to you – and only you – to take charge of that and set your path.

I have sat comfortably in the shadows of the people that came before me. There is a feeling of safety and security however that has led me to a place where I lack confidence in my abilities despite those around me believing in me and encouraging me to take great leaps. There is no one holding me back but me and the narrative that I tell myself.

Time to work on backing myself and taking the reins to pave my own path. Time to work on being a better human. And time to prioritise my leadership development.

If it’s going to be, it’s up to me - Heidi Dening

We are all faced with adversity in life, whether personal or professional, and the ability to bounce back is an important quality of leadership. It is not always easy to recover so the best thing we can do as a leader is build resilience over time so that we are better placed to handle the curveballs that come our way.

  • Be still for 10 minutes per day. Guided meditations and journaling is a winner for me to create this space.
  • Find joy 1 hour per week. Confession. Listening to The Greatest Showman (volume up loud) while I am in the kitchen cooking definitely brings me joy. Oh and cuddles with our dog Burton of course.
  • Have a chill out day 1 day per month. This one is in the diary from September… Heidi gave me permission ;)
  • Live life for 1 long weekend every quarter. Living life is enjoying a morning coffee and sunrise at our farm, driving tractors, chopping wood, breathing the fresh air and having a glass of wine at the end of the day with my husband while we watch the sunset.

Future of Leadership

Future of Leadership is an annual roadshow run by Hands Group – an Australian social enterprise whose primary purpose is to support the charity Hands Across the Water. Find out more or buy tickets at

Future of Leadership heads to Auckland, Wellington and Bangkok in September and October. Grab tickets to learn more from our sensational line up of speakers. Use my code CLAIRE10 to nab yourself a discount.

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