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Lessons from the oldest living culture in the world

In our modern world, dominated by our increasingly short attention spans, we’re so obsessed by the concept of ‘the latest’. Whether it’s the latest phone, the latest news headline, the latest car or the latest ‘buzz word’ in our industry. Whenever something seemingly ‘new’ comes along, we flock to it... we desperately want to be a part of it.

But in the rush to pursue ‘the latest’ – are we too quick to forget, understand and appreciate what’s already in the palm of our hands?

For at least 65,000 years (and probably a LOT longer), the Aboriginal people have walked the land we now call Australia. As empires and civilisations around the world rose and fell, one after another, the Aboriginal people lived and sustained their vibrant culture here. The proliferation of this culture was no mere matter of ‘luck’. They were not the simple ‘hunters and gatherers’ or ‘Indians’ the history books would like us to believe. Let’s remember, this was a culture was tested time after time through drastic change – perhaps no greater than European colonisation – and yet it is alive to this day. Evidence of it’s deep historic ties with this land are all around us, if we care to look.

It has become a passion of ours at Gone Bush to learn more about Aboriginal culture and provide a platform to tap into its richness within our professional development programs on leadership, wellbeing, team performance and culture. Rather than just focusing on the latest ‘buzz word’ from that Ted Talk you just watched, we’re turning to the world’s oldest living culture to uncover insights and perspectives that can enrich learning and development in a professional context.

Recently, we’ve partnered with Stuart McMinn, an Aboriginal cultural man with heritage in Dharug (NSW) & Wakka Wakka (QLD) countries to put a cultural lens on leadership development. Our sessions with Stuart, led ‘on country’ in Australian National Parks, in city park lands and in office/conference venues focus on helping leaders develop their impact and effectiveness by getting hands-on with Aboriginal culture and concepts.

Here, we’d like to briefly introduce two of these concepts that have been featuring in a number of our recent sessions. With the caveat that we’re only presenting the tiniest ‘tip of the iceberg’ in terms of the meaning and importance of these concepts – but even when exploring at a surface level, there is much insight to be gained.

1. Ngurrumpaa “my relationship with my place and everything in my place’.

Explained by senior Lore Man, Uncle Paul Gordon, “Ngurrumpaa means ‘my relationship with my place and everything in my place’. So what is my connection with everything in my place and my country?”

To explore this concept in a professional and leadership context, Stuart uses a visual diagram and the metaphor of a stone being dropped into water, rippling outward in ever expanding rings. Explaining that our actions have an impact and repercussions as leaders, both positive and negative, that ripple out across our lives, across our Ngurrumpaa.

Leaders are also given the opportunity to visually represent their Ngurrumpaa in doing so exploring the impacts of their leadership and effectiveness as it ripples out across their lives, catalysing new and enriching perspectives and self-reflection.

2. The ‘6 Ls’ – Lore, Love, Look, Listen, Learn, Lead

Described by Uncle Paul Callaghan in his book ‘Iridescence: Finding your colours and living your story’, the ‘6 Ls’ provides a framework to explore traditional Aboriginal perspectives on wellbeing and leadership and their core elements.

Gone Bush, our cultural facilitators, presenters and programs

Each ‘L’, when expanded upon by a caring custodian of Aboriginal culture provides a window of insight into traditional life and different ways of thinking about who we are, where we fit in and our obligations in life. For leaders and professionals, the ‘6 Ls’ provide a unique opportunity to tap into the wisdom of the Old People and become more effective forces for good in our modern world.

Interestingly, the chronology of the ‘6 Ls’ model is seen as critical to considering its meaning, which is why the first ‘L’, ‘Lore’, is so important. And yet ‘Lore’ as a concept is scarcely known, discussed or understood.

“Lore, while interpreted differently from place to place and tribe to tribe is about living up to our biggest obligation and responsibility; to connect with all things and care for all things including each other and the environment. Lore is a reflection of thousands of years of traditional stories and their related morals, obligations, responsibilities and consequences”, explains Uncle Paul Gordon.

As groups dive deeper into ‘Lore’ and the other themes from the ‘6 Ls’ model including Love, Look, Listen, Learn, Lead, modern paradigms around leadership, purpose and wellbeing become immeasurably enriched and inspirited by the wisdom and insights of Aboriginal culture.

Gone Bush, our cultural facilitators, presenters and programs

Feedback from clients around these concepts and their application in a professional, leadership and wellbeing context has been extremely positive. We're thrilled be on the road again with both Stuart McMinn and Uncle Paul Callaghan over the coming months to deliver more of these sessions.

There is clearly a thirst for knowledge and connection with Aboriginal culture. We’re so thankful to our cultural partners for their generosity in sharing their culture so sincerely and openly with the Gone Bush community.


For more info on Gone Bush, our cultural facilitators, presenters and programs, see:

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