Begin Again

by | Mar 31, 2022

I have spent the first few months of this year with a focus:

“Begin Again”

Hence, I have been relatively quiet in terms of ‘shipping’ my work, but I have been working away, in many ways, trying to practice what I preach.

“To go deep, to go forward”.

Like many, the focus for the past couple of years has been a form of survival. Covid changed everything for everyone, and I have also had cancer. I’ve learnt so much from both experiences, both skillset and mindset, but I wasn’t confident I understood the value of the learnings, and I didn’t want to skip past this opportunity.

I say this understanding that the future is always unknown and unknowable, no matter how much thought and planning we put into it. And recent events, the floods, war in Europe, even the loss of Shane Warne, make me wonder whether taking the time, as I have, is an indulgence, an extravagance.

I have always enjoyed the ‘hard fun’ of setting goals and attempting to match them with capability, but often found my eyes too big for my stomach. This has taught me aspirations might get you going, but understanding who you are, keeps you going.

Design, will always beat discipline.


Begin Again

I have used the concept of ‘Begin Again’ for some time, having first come across the concept from a meditation program with neuroscientist, philosopher and best-selling author Sam Harris called “Waking Up”.

It is a practice of bringing yourself back to the present*,* when your thinking becomes distracted, as it inevitably will be. But it’s also a very practical, and often necessary means of hitting the reset button. Your day might not have started well, or a meeting has gone off the rails, or an important conversation lost its way.

‘Begin Again’ is the circuit breaker. We cannot change what has happened, but we can take responsibility for what we do about it, give ourselves the best chance to make the most of the rest of our day, or the time we share together, or even the next ten minutes.

‘Begin Again’.

My system is to pause, and quietly ask myself:

“What does this role/situation/moment expect (or need) of me?”, and it starts with ‘being where your feet are’ followed by the words calm, brave, humble and compassionate. By role, I am referencing the many we play in life – leader, parent, child, sibling, friend, team member, customer, competitor etc; measured in our response to a situation and in the moment.

Good intention is important, but people do not experience your intention, they experience your behaviour, often tested in these moments, the gap between the best and worst of who we are.

But ‘Begin Again’ also has a strategic value, a form of situation analysis, not allowing momentum or the demands made of us to define the direction our life (or our day) takes.

Good strategy, be it your plan for you, your team or your organisation, starts with two ideas:

  • Vision Driven
  • Values Based

In essence, we are asking two questions

  • What’s possible?
  • What’s important?

I found myself back in this place from just a few years ago, studying Fine Art at the Victorian College of the Arts, when, on day one, we were asked to grab one sheet of paper, one tube of paint, and a pencil and draw a self-portrait. I remember finishing the exercise, then feeling compelled to turn my Blackwing pencil and erase my eyes, a metaphor for the new horizons that I was opening up, but also the fear that was embedded in this choice, so distant from how I had spent the previous 25 years as a CEO of AFL clubs.

It was ‘Begin Again’ in almost every way, and as I was drawing it, a quote from one of my favourite books came to mind from “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch:

“What do I, alone, truly have to offer?”

I again asked this question as part of my ‘Begin Again’ process as a leadership coach, mentor and teacher (they are all a little bit different):

“What do I, alone, truly have to offer?”

My purpose in the work I now do, is to help leaders answer this question.

In times of great uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, leaders are now expected to create environments that not only achieve strong performance outcomes, but also establish high levels of emotional well-being for those who align their careers, and lives, to the cultures that leaders build. This is the context for both the vision and the values; articulating what is possible while building on what is important.

A question that organisations need to ask themselves is simply “What can our culture overcome?” because inevitably that is what it will be required to do…overcome.

We can only push people as far as the level of trust we have with them, and trust will always precede progress.

Therefore, developing leaders who can navigate complexity is now the strategic priority—and, if done well, a competitive advantage. Beyond developing capability, we need to develop leaders with consciousness, courage, humility and compassion.

I have spent the past few months rebuilding the designCEO leadership learning programmes, that allow leaders to answer this double-barrelled question:

“As a leader, what is the impact I am seeking to make, and the culture I am building to create?”

Any leader who undertakes any of the leadership learning experiences with me will not be asked to do more, but they will certainly be asked to do different as they build out their leadership craft.

It will focus on the idea of design beating discipline, the mindset, habits and identity to create the behaviours that achieve desired outcomes.

The work will include:

  • Working with CEOs, leaders and their teams, taking them offsite, possibly into the area I now live, Daylesford and all that it brings, its nature, goodness and folklore, to support their efforts as leaders to ‘begin again’. Having 2-3 days in a different environment, not to review budgets or debate business plans, going deep to go forward, mind, body and (leadership) craft…knowing that it is not about the roles you play, it is what you bring to the roles you play.

The leaders will walk away with a personal leadership philosophy, thinking of leadership as a craft. It will also build an understanding of how they best work together, taking the important steps to build a culture unique to them.

  • One-on-one coaching of leaders with the same objectives, again taking them out of their day-to-day environment. Intense learning sessions, allocating a full day, finishing the day with a plan, crafted and personalised, energised by what we have achieved, and what the future now holds.

  • Intense virtual Masterclass sessions, accessible to all levels of leadership.

If any of these options interest you, email me on, and we will talk. We will design a program for you, and your organisation or team.


”Human beings change through study, habit, and stories.”

David Goggins from his book “You Can’t Hurt Me”


Michael Willson’s photography.

Capturing a great moment.

…and a timeless song lyric:

Alone with You – Sunnyboys

We can lock away the bad memories together,
Close the doors to the past forever.
Watching you touch,
We’re past this much.

I’m alone with you tonight
I’m alone with you tonight
I’m alone with you tonight

I can’t always remember what I say,
I can’t always take it having to pay
Watching you walk,
You know you’re really attractive.

I’m alone with you tonight

Cameron Schwab
CEO & Founder


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