Keeping Your Eye on the Prize

This is a story about Catherine Marriott – The Voice of Rural Australia and why I admire her so much and why she is a great role model for me.


Catherine is passionate about building the capacity of people of agriculture and that is a  passion we share so I have been watching her journey to success with great interest and lots of cheering in the background.

I first met Catherine when she phoned me suggesting we have a face to face meeting just after she won the 2012 West Australian RIRDC Rural Woman of the Year. This happened pretty quickly, firstly in Canberra, then Catherine visiting Clover Hill, then joining the Art4Agriculture team at the 2012 Cream of the Crop Awards and then a number of the Art4Ag team travelling to Broome for Catherine’s first Influential Women’s Workshop.

It was clear from day 1 that Catherine had a big picture vision and she was determined to meet as many people as she could to help her build a roadmap framework to success. I also had the pleasure of meeting her gorgeous and very wise mother and sister and being confident that Catherine had a great family support network who would be providing that all important emotional support when the energy vampires came calling and dare I say it that agriculture seems to have its fair share of them.

I tend to admire people who have mastered qualities I am yet to and the one that stands out for me with Catherine is I believe she has mastered the ability to FOCUS. She is keeping her eye on the prize and I am confident she has it well within her reach.

I on the other hand get reminded all too often I seem to be on a mission to prove who ever said that you cant successfully multitask is wrong.

Please don’t join me in this quest. Trust me they are NOT wrong. Take yesterday as a shining example. These days I tend to take the train whenever I can. It gives me a chance to reduce my footprint and take in the world around me.  Whilst the train service from Kiama to Sydney CBD is extraordinarily time and cost effective it can be nightmare for commuters especially in peak periods. We are lucky in our region to have a very dedicated MP who is more interested in getting outcomes for his constituents than climbing the political ladder so I shot him an email a few months ago raising with him some of the train travel issues I had seen. I have now seen how frustrating it can be for an MP trying to make change and I don’t envy his job.

Back to yesterday I got to Central 30 mins early to catch the train home and as always the train was full with the resultant unpleasantness that goes with people being crammed together with suitcases and walking sticks and grumpy old men who think its just fine to reef a young traveller in the stomach with his elbow just because he felt he was standing too close.

So I decided to take action and started tweeting. Within 5 mins my MP was texting me to contact him when I got home. The end result is together we (with whoever we can muster) have hatched a plan to start a revolution to change the NSW train system to ensure it provides safe and comfortable travel for all.

Now is this part of my carefully mapped out strategic plan to achieve my big picture vision for building capacity in the agriculture sector?. Hell No. Did that stop me saying yes to Gareth. Hell No.

I used to beat myself up about this and now I just laugh as my dear friends keep reinforcing we can all only be the best version of ourselves we can be . Equally this is why it is so critical that people like me surround themselves with people who complement their skills.  This came home to roost recently when the Art4Agriculture team needed to brief a new program and event manager (so sad Kirsty you are leaving us). To help make this process as smooth as possible and look after our wonderful new event and program manager (welcome Alex) the committee have created the tongue in cheek  the “How to Survive Working with Lynne Strong” manual.

Agriculture DOES needs a whole cohort of wonderful young people like Catherine to be the change that agriculture must have. Watching Catherine ‘along her journey to become an expert corporate speaker, covering leadership, mentoring, adversity, empowerment, communication and change management’ I am constantly reminded just how critical it is for my generation to invest in these emerging leaders and ensure they have ready access to a directory of lifestyle and business coaching professionals who can help them regain perspective, and maintain stamina and mental health.  Now that’s a prize worth joining together to fight for wouldn’t you? So the question becomes – How can we best work together to make this happen?

Want to read more about the inspiring work that Catherine is doing not only in this country visit Empowering Women in Agriculture here

PERTH, Australia 24 August 2014:  Influential Women has started the second part of the Agricultural Exchange Project between East Java and Western Australia. The indonesian women will visit our Australian farms to share knowledge and cultures.  (Photo by Sabine Albers)

My thought for the day

Be with people who value you.
“Your social group is like a mirror, reflecting your value back to you.”

Author: Lynne Strong

I am a 6th generation farmer who loves surrounding myself with optimistic, courageous people who believe in inclusion, diversity and equality and embrace the power of collaboration. I am the founder of Picture You in Agriculture. Our team design and deliver programs that inspire pride in Australian agriculture and support young people to thrive in business and life

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