Some years ago I had the privilege to meet the acclaimed author Susan Scott, her book Fierce Conversations has been in the Best Seller list for over thirteen years. The message in her book simply talks about sometimes in business and in life we need to have fierce conversations with a range of people; to most these discussions don’t come easy and rather than confront our problems we tend to shirk away and defer them for long as possible. The resultant delay usually compounds the issues.

I am convinced there are conversations here in Australia we urgently need to conduct but stubbornly refuse to bring to the table, this applies to not only to our economic position but includes changes to our national physic which has adopted a worrying trend of victim mentality.

The extended prosperity of the last twenty years seems to have dulled our senses into the belief that we are immune from global change and the sorts of disruption that has and is occurring across the world is something that happens to other countries ; believing we are far too removed to suffer the same fate. Now we are finding the inevitability of facing our demons is upon us.

I can envision people opening up this post shrugging their shoulders dropping their eyelids and saying” Not this topic again, why does this guy just go away and leave us in peace”? Actually that could easily be the thing to do, just walk away and shut up but unfortunately for you sufferers’ I can’t, why? Because this country welcomed me in over thirty years ago, I have built a great life and family here and I think it is worth preserving. The late Dr. Martin Luther King nailed it and I quote “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Whilst I believe we are not at that juncture yet we are gradually creeping to a point where we may not be able to redeem the situation.

Blind Freddy can tell you this is one of the greatest places in the world one can live, countless global surveys confirm that. (Incidentally I must tell you I staunchly believe it is, after all I came here over thirty plus years ago and I am not leaving). A proud nation forged out of sacrifice and traditionally with an attitude of “can do”. On national days we know just how to celebrate, we confirm our allegiance to Australia and bathe in a heightened state of patriotism. Unfortunately the glow of that beacon quickly dims and we return to our daily lives, lives of seemingly endless pain where the trials of our existence are constantly echoed throughout the length and breadth of the land. Observers on the outside look at us and scratch their heads in bewilderment as they look at our circumstances which are seen to be highly favourable compared to most of the world.

Popular sentiment lays the blame fairly and squarely at the door of politicians who we accuse for our perceived ills. It is partly true they are culpable in some measure but that prognosis denies the presence of influencers and other key players in this modern day drama. Change has brought us impatience and unrealistic expectations fuelled by an ever growing media whose reach seems to have no bounds in promoting and fuelling negativity amongst us. That is not to say we shouldn’t acknowledge real concerns of people but I think we have lost the balance and we are drifting into a mindset where whatever is offered as solutions is rejected as unacceptable.

It is truly nonsense to think governments and companies can be expected to satisfy all our current needs; today we live in a time where change can happen in a blink of an eye throwing plans and projected outcomes into chaos. Disappointment occurs and accusations of the breaking of trust surface causing further dislocation of the parties perhaps we should examine our meaning of the word honesty.

Whether it is government, business, trade unions or individuals we are all responsible one way or another for the rudderless position we find ourselves in. Lack of attention in protecting what has always been precious to Australians, our culture. Presenting a positive face to the world has been the cornerstone of how we are seen around the globe but we are in serious danger of altering that perception as the shrill noise of complaints about “our lot” grows louder.
So what is the fierce conversation we need to have?

It is quite simple, do we want to continue on this path? If that is the consensus of older Australians in which case we must let fate take its course. Personally I cannot believe after building such a great country we can allow it to be dismantled by apathy and absence of vision.

Contrary to the overwhelming sentiment from my age group that we will not prosper under the younger generations that are following us. I have a different view I observe signs of more enlightened thinking albeit unconventional to our ears. They have adopted a consciousness that change is now part of our lives and that it is a major obstacle we must overcome if we have any chance of returning to a positive mindset.

We either choose to engage and participate or we start to tick off the days to 2023 *

*2023 is the anticipated date when the Baby Boomer generation retires

Ken Wood