Our ‘why’ is our imperative

Our ‘why’ is our imperative

As Winston Churchill famously said, “a change is as good as a rest”.

My change, taking on a new role and moving to Sydney to work in the Uniting Church has certainly been a wonderful experience.

One of the most important aspects of this role involves me learning about how the Uniting Church operates through its’ people and building new relationships. As luck would have it, last week I was asked to join a team away day in the Blue Mountains. It was quite unlike any team away day I have been to before. Within five minutes of me arriving I found myself sitting by a fire, patting a dog and listening to people share about their world. I was then asked to share a little about myself. In this moment I realized that the team did not need a synopsis of my career, my highlights or my achievements. I realized that what they needed was to know ‘why’ I care. So I shared with them my ‘why’.  The feedback in the room was remarkable. They informed me that this was not what they were expecting and welcomed me in a way that I am pretty sure I would not have received had I shared the experience on my CV.

This experience taught me an important lesson: before we ask others to care – we need to work out and share ‘why’ we care.  That’s why I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself to you by sharing ‘why’ I do what I do.

Around 15 years ago nearly to this day, I went away for a weekend with my then boyfriend. On day two we went up a mountain. It was wet and slippery and I ended up falling quite a large drop off the side of the mountain. Despite the large drop I was left physically virtually unharmed, save for a concussion and a few damaged ribs. Unfortunately my partner, who bravely came down the mountain after me to see if I was ok, was not so lucky. He landed badly and was left paralyzed from the waist down. He has not let it stop him. He lives his life with passion, integrity and grace and is a constant source of inspiration for me.

That day and that fall has never left me.  What could I have done better? How could I have prevented it? But it also left me with another thought – one that has impacted me even more deeply – if I was left unharmed – what I am here to do?

It took another few years and a few more experiences, but I started to work it out after transitioning from working as a Lawyer to working in Compliance engaging people through storytelling, creativity and imagination. At first it just seemed like another role, another career progression and the ability to get a new perspective in an organisation.

Over time I have come to appreciate that everything I have sought to do in the area of compliance stems from my desire to make a long-standing difference in this world. A desire to engage with people about what it means to be a transformative community, inviting people to be part of creating that and working together with integrity on the basis of ethical intelligence.

It is not just a job for me, and not even just a career. It has become my mission or as I like to think of it – the great work of my life.

Our ‘why’ is our imperative! It is what gets us out of bed in the morning, keeps us going when the going really does get tough and keeps us patiently explaining our work even when no one seems to be listening. It is what drives us (and certainly me) to come up with creative ways to inspire, persuade, challenge and encourage people to do the right thing.

So this week at work, when you have the opportunity to speak with people about your role, perhaps take a moment to share the great work of your life and your ‘why’.

It can make all the difference.

Nicole Rose is a published author, lawyer and compliance professional with 20 years’ experience implementing compliance and legal frameworks specializing in financial crime, integrity and compliance, anti-corruption, fraud, human rights, cyber security, global security and human resources. Nicole has recently been appointed Head of Compliance and Legal for the Uniting Church Synod of NSW and ACT.

Illustration courtesy of Nicole Rose


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