May Musings - 24

Today marks the first day of the last ten days of Ramadan. Bit of a mouthful that, but the last ten days of Ramadan are the holiest, and always seem to rush by faster than any other ten day period in the year. 

Tranquility - a moment from my recent trip to Dubai 

Tranquility - a moment from my recent trip to Dubai 

How has my Ramadan been? I’m not going to lie; it’s been a tough one. I’ve found the constant travel has made it difficult to have the regular Ramadan routines I took for granted growing up. I also seemed to have struggled quite a bit with caffeine withdrawal, and the long London days take their toll. All that said, Alhamdulilah, I’ve been able to push through and channel that mental discipline Ramadan requires. It’s funny, even as I write this I’m reflecting on the fact that many of my recent Ramadan months have been tough - I’ve been on tour, working on rigs, away from home... it hasn’t been the idyllic childhood scenario for a few years now. What has been wonderful about my time here in London though has been finding a new community to share the month with - some Muslim and some not, some living at home and some on their own; all of us on a journey with our faith but with a commitment to the practice, the tradition, each other.  We’re creating our own communities now - as our parents did so for their generation, so must we for ours. 

How has your Ramadan been? What’s your relationship with the month?  

The Wisdom of the Dalai Lama in Person.


The Young Minds Conference being held at Sydney Town Hall had a lucky guest for the opening session on the 17th of June - His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.

I was fortunate to be a part of the fantastic panel that flanked the Dalai Lama, including the moderator Simon Longstaff, and Professors Deborah Harcourt and Carla Rinaldi.

Check out the official conference's blog here...

What a session! The topic was huge, "How to grow a good person".

What a topic indeed...


Justice cannot be done to the morning by recounting a few simple words, but I will do my best!

An unexpected surprise was the Dalai Lama's candour and sense of humour (especially at his own expense - it's awesome to know I'm not the only one who laughs at my own jokes!). It is easy to forget in those simple moments that he is Nobel Laureate and the religious leader of his people.

What did he say?

He talked about the importance of family and the kindness of his mother, who 'never showed an angry face'.

He laughed about life as a young student who was only interested in playing, as all kids are.

He ruminated on the secular nature of ethics and morals...

He took us on a journey of a spiritual man who sees goodness as not being the sole property of those with religion, but of humanity.

This, he stressed.

'We should teach morals and ethics as a curriculum subject!'

His emphasis was profound.

To him, the values of love, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, respect and the like are not values that we should, as religious folk, be protective of but should share, as they are humanity's values.

Instead, they are secular morals that are based on biological factors that are about keeping humanity going. It was an interesting argument, and one that gives much food for thought.


A profound experience. I've had the blessing of speaking with His Holiness before, however this experience was a little different. Perhaps because I saw his obvious love for children; for their predilection to play, enjoy and be affectionate. We had a number of young people join us on the stage to ask questions; he would hold their hands, laugh with them, get them to sit on his lap...much like any elder gentlemen would treat his own grandchildren perhaps?

Let children be children, let them play and let them love, was his message.

However, don't let us forget that we can learn from children, from their abandonment, for their honest curiosity and humanity. Let us learn from them. Let us focus on secular morals and value them more in society.


Some among us have a wealth of wisdom to share.

The Dalai Lama is one of these men.

Regardless of differences in belief, it is important to reflect on the wisdom shared, relate it back to one's own beliefs and understand the univeral importance of humanity.

There is beauty - flawed and imperfect - but beauty nonetheless, in our collective humanity. For that reminder, I am grateful Alhamdulilah!

Speech Notes from IPAA YPN/CEO Breakfast

  This week, I was honoured and humbled to be asked to speak at the Institute of Public Administration Australia’s ACT Breakfast for Young Professionals and CEO’s on International Women’s Day.  Although not focused on IWD as such, it is an opportunity for IPAA to bring young female speakers to share a little about their experiences, and I chose to share thoughts on how to truly and effectively engage young people.

I should note the event itself was fabulous; held at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra in a fabulous hall, it was also playing host to a great concept, bringing the graduates and the heads of department together on the same table.  More of this needs to be done!

The crux of the presentation was around the two following slides:

From an organisation’s point of view (best practices):


From an individual’s point of view (best practices):


I won’t give away all the explanations, but one of the key points from above is the biggest learning I have taken away from my recent experiences:

Looking for uncommon opportunities.

Stretching your mind, erasing the boundaries of the box and redrawing them, finding stimuli and inspiration in unlikely places – this is all related to taking advantage and looking for uncommon opportunities.  Opportunities and experiences that may not have obvious or direct relevance to your current role still have the capacity to broaden your mind and perhaps send you on paths that you may have not considered, but paths that are equally worthwhile.

Personal Example: accepting a role on the Board of the Queensland Museum as a young engineering student.

Unlikely benefit: gaining an understanding and appreciation for the cultural precinct and the important of the museum, but also effectively enabling and encouraging the inclusion of young people (and minority groups) in the Museum’s target audience.


Offering the skills you have rather than the skills you think they need is also a big learning, and one that really reshaped the way I looked at being involved at the consultative level as a young person.


So this is just a brief snapshot of some of the things talked about at the presentation, and practical ways young people can be involved and at the same table as the movers and shakers.

Hope this is useful! Would love to hear your thought on true youth engagement!

Selfish, or Noble? On Our Personal Legacies


I used to believe that being forgotten was the worst fate that could befall me. However, I have come to accept not only my mortality, but my insignificance in the story of our universe.


This is not to say that we are all ‘insignificant as individuals’, as we are extremely important to those who love us and the community we are a part of; to deny this would be unfair. In fact, it would be wasteful of the gift of our lives if we disregarded our importance as people and individuals.

However, notions of grandeur and of everlasting importance are fanciful and ultimately selfish, are they not? Think about the thousands of years of humankind and the billions of people who have gone before us, who each had stories; lives, loves, struggles and triumphs…how many of those have been remembered? How many empires, on the other hand, have fallen due to an individual’s obsession with power and immortality?

Why do we feel like we need to be remembered?

On the other hand though, shouldn’t we strive to create and leave a legacy?

Wanting to be remembered is one thing, leaving a legacy is quite another.

One is about the individual, craving attention and validation of their existence.  The other is selfless, about leaving the world a better place than when we joined.

It is up to you to decide what your legacy will be.  Utilise that gift, and shape one that you are proud of.


*Source of pictures? Tumblr.

Links, Links, Links – 4th February 2013


Illustration: Rocco Fazzari

The belief that stars are born not made is demonstrated by the portrayal of genius in the media and popular entertainment. Higher achievers such as Mozart and Michelangelo are shown in plays and movies as having prodigious abilities from their earliest years, their talent the result of possession of some mysterious in-built gift. The role of studying and working at mastering anything – art, craft, intellectual pursuits or sport – is glossed over or ignored.

The Conversation on our obsession with natural talent and whether that is harming our students.

 The WSJ on the concept of “The Guerrilla Myth".  Very America Centric but interesting points.

Unconventional wars are our most pressing national security concern. They're also the most ancient form of war in the world. Max Boot on the lessons of insurgency we seem unable to learn.

Creating Links is offering a Cert IV in Community Culture…check it out here! 

Perhaps in future, spy training and learning spy tradecraft should be part of the journalist school curriculum?

On a slightly different note:

The truth is that there will be a million people in your life who actually don’t love you, whose dismissal of your feelings or tendency to ignore what you want are rooted in genuine apathy. They are everywhere, and make navigating our emotional lives even more complicated. But there are also many people who do love us, and who want to show us, but just may not be able to do it in the way we most want to hear. And it’s important to distinguish between the two, to look at the things people are actively doing for us and take account of the things we’re lucky to have in them. Because we are lucky to have love — in any of its forms — and no way of saying “I love you” should be forgotten about.

The Thought Catalogue on The Different Types of Love.

Zakia Baig’s story… Giving Australian’s an opportunity to share their story with the Prime Minister through the SBS program 'My Community Matters’: A great story about an Afghanistani Hazara woman doing fabulous things for her community here in Australia.

The importance of a deepening of our relationship with China cannot be overstated.  Australia releases it’s National Security Statement.  In between the lines is a distinct push and pull between our traditional roles as America’s allies, and the reality of our demographics.