My 7 weeks away from AFS

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Date: 
22 September 2016

I wanted to share with you a small part of my journey and the lessons learned over the last few months. I had 7 weeks away from the office, but not for holiday.....

Early July, I had the opportunity to apply for pre-selection to run as a candidate in the NT Government Election. I'd never thought of myself undertaking anything like this in the past, but as I found out not long into the journey, I knew this role brought out my strength and what I enjoy doing. Openly listening and learning by being curious to achieve positive outcomes is how I operate, its how I am wired. I do this at AFS every single day.

When I approached my business partners at AFS about this opportunity, after their initial shock they granted my request for 7 weeks away from the business and were ever so supportive. We all agreed that this kind of opportunity does not come around very often so with the blessing and support of the AFS team, I seized the moment, presented to the pre-selection committee and was chosen as a candidate in the fast approaching NT Election.

The following 6 weeks was one of the steepest learning curves one could ever go through. What better way to learn a new role by hurling right into the coalface. I was having photo shoots, posters created and displayed on every corner, my car was wrapped with my face and name (billboard style) and I fronted a media press conference for my very first time. It was not the greatest interview, but I survived and went on to do other radio segments and interviews with the tabloid press. The lesson I learned from this experience, is that those on TV and Radio make it seem so easy, but it is not. I had to remind myself to "just be myself", answer the questions as if it was a friend asking me. It sounds easy, but when you have microphones and cameras surrounding you, it can be daunting and the worry about making a fool of yourself is real.

I set about doing all the campaigning activities including door knocking every day covering approximately 4500 homes to introduce myself and seek feedback from residents. To some this task is frightening but I actually enjoyed it. I knew many people I visited and many of those I met for the first time were welcoming and positive with my visit. There were a few challenges I faced with some who were not interested in meeting me, but I learned quickly this was part of politics and it was not personal.

The days were spent out & about, the nights spent attending functions, community events and/or responding to queries, I had received and hand writing notes for that personal touch. Whilst the change in pace was a challenge for my partner and young boys, they learned so much about the community and why politics plays an important part of life here in the Territory. I involved them at every opportunity and they enjoyed plenty of sausages at community events.

I was privileged to have many supporters who contributed to the campaign in a variety of ways, many of them I only met because of the election and am honoured to call them friends. Undergoing an experience like this through all the ups and downs means you cannot help but form friendships, which will last a lifetime. Many of my colleagues, friends and family came forward to lend a hand. Friends would often say "I never followed politics until you started". It was nice to know I played a small part in people learning about different things which affect them directly.

The election resulted in me not winning the seat, however against all odds (some factors out of my control and the very short time I had to campaign without an already established profile), I received 28% of the votes which for a first time candidate is a big achievement. I am proud of all my efforts and I am missing the fast pace and constant new faces of the campaign.

However, during the entire campaign, I dearly missed my colleagues at AFS. I would call them often and catch up when I could just to hear how they were going. They created a video testimonial for my Facebook page explaining to people why they should vote for me and it was humbling. They did not have to create it, but they did because they are type of people who support people's aspirations. Whilst not everyone shared the same political views, they still supported me because they care. They support without judgement and are proud of those whom they have relationships with. Whilst their primary role is to assist people to achieve their financial goals, it is their drive to change people's lives, which is truly apparent. They do this by doing just what they did for me, they believe in one's aspirations and they support the same. I have been part of this team who live by these values for nearly 20 years; they have always supported, encouraged and believed. It is a special feeling and one that I now understand is how our Clients feel.

I am proud to be with this team and whatever the future holds for my career, I can attribute much of who I am and what I represent to their guidance and friendship.