14 December 2022

Insight from: Robbie Sefton

‘The world is run by those who show up’. A famous quote and right on the money. These people may not be the smartest, or most articulate, or most visionary, but they stand up when it matters, have the courage of their convictions and are willing to do the hard work to succeed. Sadly too though, they may also be the ones with the thickest skins, best able to withstand frequent and often unwarranted criticism from those we’ll refer to as the ‘cave people’ – Citizens Against Virtually Everything – those individuals whose primitive thinking and approach can stifle the development of regional communities and cause a lot of damage in the process.

David Jochinke is farmer from Victoria and is the Deputy Vice-President of the National Farmers Federation (NFF), and it was at a recent function I attended where I heard him use this ‘cave men and women’ term. David’s obviously been involved in agriculture industry leadership for a long time so has a better idea than most of not only what it takes to be a successful leader, but also how potential community leaders and innovative thinking can be derailed by outdated views, and a lack of support.

David refers to the “cave people” as the “enemies within”, and will oppose anyone who dares challenge the status quo. Given enough room to shout down a new idea, they can leave a permanent scar on a community, drive people away and discourage others from proposing future innovations and strategies. I’m sure many of us can think of situations in our own communities where this played out – where short-sightedness and ignorance were the enemy of future prosperity and growth.

There’s an antidote to this kind of poisonous thinking though, and that’s actively supporting valid and exciting ideas that can change a community for the better. Speaking up and letting someone know you’re behind them, when they may think they’re on their own – and letting others know of this support – can be a powerful force, and could just be the catalyst for that idea to become so much more. Too many of us, I think, are reluctant to do this because we don’t want to put ourselves in the sights of the ‘cave people’, but sometimes the risk is worth the eventual reward and if we want our regions to fulfill their potential, then we must recognise those opportunities worth fighting for and be loud and proud in our advocacy.

We need to be better at supporting those people with the vision and drive to make a real difference in our communities, and in agriculture – getting past the so-called ‘tall poppy syndrome’ and recognising without energetic and innovative leaders, we’re unable to move forward and embrace the opportunities of this fast-paced 21st century world. In David’s words: “You do need a good team around you when [the going gets tough]. I’ve always believed that advocacy especially is a team sport because if you try to play it as a solo sport, you will be spat out. The stronger the team you have around you, and the more you empower them, the better off you will be.”

‘The world is run by those who show up’ … and who have others show up for them.

To read this article in The Land Newspaper, go to https://www.theland.com.au/story/8019809/primitive-thinking-risks-future-growth/?cs=5739