Sean Hollick recently addressed guests at a networking event held at The Henry Jones Art Hotel with reflections on his year as a Tasmanian Leaders Program participant. Below is a direct transcribe of the event.

Good Evening everyone.

My name is Sean Hollick, and it’s my pleasure to share with you some of my personal experiences of this year’s Tasmanian Leaders Program. During the year I have gained valuable skills and enjoyed many new experiences, many of which I am yet to fully comprehend. Despite that, in the final weeks of the program, there are definitely some overall messages, which I think represent and adequately summarise the change that has occurred in me this year, which I will attempt to articulate.

Reflecting on the year so far has been a valuable assignment. And it’s not until recent days that I have come to the realisation that 2017 has been the most important and exciting year of my life.

For starters, I have had four different job titles since commencing my TLP application. I have changed jobs so many times in fact, Ange is now refusing to change my name tag again.

Prior to applying for the Tas Leaders program, it would be fair say I fit into a number of categories:

  • I was a reasonably young person in Tasmania. (Reasonably!)
  • I had been a career public servant.
  • And I was frustrated at what I thought was a lack of personal and professional development opportunities that were coming my way.

If I’m honest, from my experience, many people that fit into the same categories as me are a combination of frustrated, disconnected, or ignorant of the issues in our community. Many of us have our heads in the sand when it comes to the challenges and opportunities that face Tasmania.  And perhaps most importantly I had accepted that the path Tasmania takes, is completely out of my hands, and is something that is left to those in positions of authority and power. I had foolishly figured that the status quo would remain, regardless of anything I did.

I can now say I am one of the lucky ones – because that was all about to change. After almost a year in TLP, I would now summarise my attitude on all of this in one short sentence – Tasmania’s future is completely up for grabs. This complete change in perspective alone has made TLP a worthwhile and meaningful experience for me.

My first memories of the TLP journey is paved with self-doubt and apprehension. I have since discovered that this is was the case for many people. But that didn’t help at the time. I remember being invited to participate in the panel interview. More specifically I remember the sinking realisation that the panel will probably ask me to actually elaborate on my written application, which was toiled over and ‘plagiarised’ meticulously over the course of a month. ‘I wonder if they realise that I know almost nothing beyond what’s there on the paper in front of them’. ‘Heaven help me if I get asked to share an opinion, think for myself or think on the spot.’

Anyway, I managed to forge my way through the interview and my next memory was when I was accepted into the program. At this point, I was faced with a whole other set of self-inflicted mind games. I remember receiving the email congratulating me on my successful application – The instructions were very clear that although I was permitted share this great news with my close friends and family, I was reminded hold off on any media announcements… Well… I thought if these program participants are so important they needed a special reminder not to hold a bloody press conference to announce they’re doing TLP, what right do I have to be part of their team? And what can I possibly offer? I thought if I call Ange now and say thanks for the reminder…..but you realise if I was to call a press conference, TLP has nothing to worry about… one would show up.

Following that, as many of you would know, I have encountered a series of Linking Sessions and Residentials where gradually over time the self-doubt faded. It slowly became clear that those around me were just talented and humble people, who all shared my enthusiasm about Tasmania and the direction of the state.
I began to let my guard down and noticed others doing the same.

Over the course of the year, I have been given front row seats and real-life access to genuine leadership champions. People from different walks of life, all of whom have exercised influence in different ways to create positive change. More than anything it occurred to me that these guest speakers and panelists were also no different to program participants. This was often made very clear when as participants the tables were turned on us. These leadership champions wanted to know our opinions and suggested that we were responsible for forming the ideas, taking the action, or starting the change. I found this an energizing and empowering proposition because in my mind not only is Tasmania’s future up for grabs but for the first time ever, I am being asked, what I am going to do about it.

This was what I had been waiting for.

Having worked in only the military and government from a young age, I’ll be the first to admit that the creativity, innovation, and imagination had been beaten out of me. For that reason, I was desperate to better understand private business and enterprise. TLP did not disappoint. I honestly had no idea Tasmania so was so rich with entrepreneurs and innovators.

During the year we encountered a Tasmanian owned and operated family business manufacturing and selling from basically their backyard, into the United States and into Asia. Also, an IT company that remotely resolves machinery malfunctions in Japan, via a Skype connection, from an office, 15 minutes’ drive from the back of Burnie. These business owners talked about using technology and innovation to adapt to the changing operational environments. They talked about simply not accepting the status quo, and using creativity and imagination as a survival tool during the global financial crisis. In many cases to prevent the loss of their jobs, and at times the livelihoods of their closest friends and family. More than that it was the creativity to not only survive but to continue to adapt and change, meaning that they could later go on and thrive. Which they have done.

I thought to myself – How many times I have I done that in my career? And the answer was not many. Nonetheless, this type of mindset struck me. It was something that I could immediately take back to my local community or workplace to share with others – which I did then and will continue to do.

Over my TLP journey, I have also been given practical tools and techniques to solve complex problems and discovered models and activities to better understand myself and how I impact others. For those who are not familiar with the Myers Briggs indicator let me elaborate. As a self-identified ESTJ I prefer to base my decisions on the rational. I often speak before while I’m thinking and I always prefer to follow a logical and structured procedure. In other words, I can be a judgemental, impatient, control freak. No offense to other ESTJ, but I think you’ll all agree. When I searched for leaders around the world who have the same classification, I was severely underwhelmed. Nonetheless, the point of this tool was very clear to me, that leadership presents itself in many ways, and by understanding people and their differences, a leader is equipped to bring the best out of those around them.

For good reason, the Tasmanian Leaders Program demands a significant personal commitment, and I’d be lying if I said that my commitment had been tested throughout this year. In June, my wife Wendy and I had our first child. I remember very clearly, 4:30 in the morning, attempting to rock a screaming newborn to sleep, knowing full well that I needed to be in Launceston at 8:15 am, for a Linking Session, on a topic I had absolutely no idea about.

In that moment it’s fair to say my commitment waivered…

But becoming a father has absolutely changed my approach to TLP, and in fact, it has added the essential third component to my take-home message…. Which is: Not only is Tasmania’s future up for grabs, I am being asked what am I going to do about it, and for the first time in my life, I genuinely care about what happens beyond my own existence

So although it’s not over just yet, this year has been a journey in more ways than one. 2017 has been by far, the best year of my life, and the Tasmanian Leaders Program, despite being at times exhausting, has been rich in insights, inspirations, and learnings. My perspectives have changed in ways I wasn’t planning on. I am now excited and empowered for the future.

Thank you very much for coming along to this networking event, enjoy the great company.