Yes that's me in the middle.

by Hayley Purbrick (5th Generation)

Does your stomach grizzle when it hears the word leadership program? I know mine certainly does. The word has been corrupted in society by the commonly held view leadership is a destination, not a lifelong endeavor.  But even with this in mind I applied for the highly regarded Future Leaders program run by Wine Australia because my belief ‘an opportunity missed is an opportunity lost’ means I just can’t die wondering.

To capture the entirety of the experience in a short purging wouldn’t do it justice so instead here’s my top five takeaways from the program. Digest them as you will.

  1. Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom – Aristotle

I’ve put my hand up for a lot of leadership programs from regional, community to industry and guaranteed each is different. What I enjoyed the most about Future Leaders was the program was entirely built around personal development, not professional. Kicking off the 6 months with a session on values and beliefs is powerful stuff. Often when I feel uncomfortable about something it is because I am being asked to act in conflict to my values or beliefs.

I got the hint – taking the time to work through your own issues is difficult. In today’s day and age we would much rather distract ourselves with mindless scrolling on the iPhone. Put down the phone and ask yourself the hard questions.

  1. Talk behaviors not traits

This was a lesson on the power of language. We all know our language impacts the people around us but it’s not often we really stop to think about it. Particularly when dealing with conflict and difficult conversations.

The tip was simple. When entering a conversation don’t focus on traits…unless of course you’re keen to feel like you’re creating conflict in most areas of your life. In short – focus on behaviours you don’t like and you do like – not on the traits.

This is best explained by an example. You could say ‘you are so unorganised’ and expect in response you will likely hear a defensive reply like ‘no I am not’. Instead you could say ‘When you send invitations out two weeks before an event it makes me anxious, can we both agree they will go out 6 weeks in advance’ – problem solved. Well solved faster and with less friction!

  1. Everyone has a story we can learn from

We had an exceptional group of people in the program – a diverse spread across the Australian Wine Industry. It was a great mix of people who were humorous, serious and just plain insightful. When you are put in these situations the thing you always learn is everyone has a story and each is as powerful as the next. Make space to listen. Humans as usual blow my mind.

  1. What’s holding you back?

This exercise was one I have shared often since the program has concluded. What’s holding you back in life – your past, your present or your future? Are you at peace with the past? Flip those stories in your head from negative to positive. Are you engaged in the present? Give yourself fully to the moment. Can you imagine a future? Dare to dream.

If you feel like your mental health is not great this is somewhere to go. When I first embarked on this one I was very – I am ALL over this. By the end of the program I can honestly say I could improve in being more present. Being completely in moment and not jumping into the future. Something to work on – New Year’s resolution perhaps.

  1. Health is everything sleep, heart and breath

The health and wellness industry is currently worth $4.2 trillion. Mind blown. After spending a full day on health and the importance of building rest into your day I was sold. While life is never simple and we all harbor plenty of excuses for why we can or can’t focus on our health I found these three areas to focus on refreshing and straight forward – quality of sleep, healthy heart rhythms and controlled deep breath. Yes I can do that.

There you have it. 5 key lessons learnt over 6 months. Forever thankful to work in an industry who understands people’s wellbeing is fundamental to building a vibrant community and industry.

Take the opportunity. In the end we only regret the chances we didn’t take.


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