During these challenging times, normal life as we know it has been turned upside down in nearly every aspect with countries being in complete lockdown, shops and businesses closing up or operating under strict rules and regulations and nearly all travel worldwide banned or next to impossible, we are seeing leaders step up, both in a political sense along with business leaders and community leaders. These thoughts made me stop and think about the leaders that have shaped my life and helped make me who I am today.
Pubali Chakravorty-Campbell (the CEO of Human Resource Partners) highlights the opportunity for potential through challenging times; ‘Unpleasant and harsh life experiences.. leave us with so much knowledge’ I believe this means that we grow more through hardships and failures than we do when we have success or no setbacks in our path. Personally I have had some key leaders in my life that have had a lasting effect on who I am today and continue to have an impact through the lessons I have learnt overcoming obstacles in my career as a professional cyclist and as a human.
Some of the key leaders in my life include;
Graham Seers; My first coach, Seersy taught me everything about bike racing, not just how to train, how to read a bike race and how to suffer but also about life, people, food and being accountable. I remember one experience in particular; Mersey Valley Tour 2008. It was a selection race for the U19 Australian Junior World Championships team. I was a favourite for the race and the selection. The race was combined with the Elite women’s category, while separate results were recorded. I remember after the second stage I was leading the U19 category by seven minutes on the GC, essentially I had wrapped up the race with a long breakaway on stage 2 with Carlee Taylor (Elite women). Stage three was another hilly road race and I finished with the main group behind a breakaway of Elite women, winning the U19 GC by seven minutes. Seersy had told me he would wait for me at the finish before going to the feed zone for the U19 men. When I finished the race he was not there. He told me after that he was disappointed that I hadn’t followed the breakaway in the stage as we knew I had the legs to be there, he told me that I showed weakness to my competitors just two weeks before the national title. Even though I won the U19 tour, I don’t remember being proud or happy with this, instead I was disappointed and realised I still had a lot go room to grow, I learnt a lesson and for that I am very thankful to Seersy. Seersy taught me to never give up, don’t show weakness and always race everyone in the race, this applies not just to bike racing but all aspects of life. Seersy always fights for what he believes in, even if others don’t agree with him. Without lessons like this from Seersy I would not be the bike racer or person I am today.
Bradley McGee; NSWIS head coach, Personal Coach 2014-2018 and National Coach 2018- Present day. I have always had a huge amount of respect for Brad, I find his personal accomplishments inspiring. His natural leadership is now steering Cycling Australia’s road program to new heights, evident through the success of the last couple of World Championships results. Brad taught me how to believe in myself, and that I should fight for what I believe in right to the end. Brad inspires those around him to be better, he brings people together with his dynamic and exciting visionary approach to coaching. While these challenging times will indeed requires dynamic approaches, I have no doubt that the women’s road program will come out stronger with Brad taking the lead to support us through this holding pattern.
Tony Thorne and Geoff Freeman; King and Campbell Consultancy. I have completed a Bachelor’s degree in Town Planning. I completed it over eight years via distance education through the University of New England. As part of my degree I completed two blocks of six weeks of work experiences at the King and Campbell consultancy in Port Macquarie. I thoroughly enjoyed my work at King and Campbell during these blocks of work experience and had the opportunity to be exposed to great leaders in the business world in my home community. Tony has a way with words and a presence that is felt, he taught me about my profession and how important it is to make use of those around you. Geoff taught be about how to read people and the situation, he always offered advise and had time for my questions, Both Tony, Geoff along with others at King and Campbell forced me out of my comfort zone and taught me how to problem solve and find a solution with decisiveness, clear communication skills and always with integrity.
Mum, Robbi. My mum has always encouraged me to chase my dreams and always found a way for me to do what I loved. I never realised how many scarifies she made while I was growing up for this mentality to take shape inside me and my brother Nick, a ranking officer of the Australian Army. Mum has taught me that you are in charge of your thoughts and how you react to a situation, but most importantly she taught me that there is always a way if you want something enough. Mum taught me how to work hard and I have learnt how to put in the hard work to achieve a goal from my mum. When I made the Australian Junior Worlds team in 2007 I was required to pay a levy to travel to the World Championships in Mexico. My mum was unable to pay this directly so I sold thousands of Cadbury chocolates over 3-4 months to raise the money, each day at school I would forgo my lunch hour to guilt-trip teachers into buying chocolates so I could follow my dream to represent my country. My mum always found a way, she never gave up when it got hard and this mentality has lead me to a professional cycling career in Europe.
Stephen Delcourt, Team manager FDJ, Stephen has a vision, he is on a journey to grow his professional team to the top level women’s cycling. He works so hard, puts his heart and soul into the team and has inspired me to join the cause. I believe in our team and feel the emotion behind the team. The team means more than just a business transaction or sponsorship opportunity. It provides empowerment and belief to everyone involved. Stephen leads the team, staff, riders and partners and I feel confident he will lead the team successfully through this challenging time.
It is time to step up and lead, whether that is lead your organisation, your friendship group, your family or simply your mental and physical health. Life is changing and in order to survive and flourish we must adapt as a humankind. In order to maintain equilibrium under pressure we need everyone to find the leader inside themselves to help others to be better each day and support each other, to inspire others to do what is best for everyone, to be selfless.
We are facing something that is bigger than just you. Find the leader in you.