My experience – the importance of turning up

by Dr Kristy Howard

Have you ever been invited to an exciting program or event, something that would really make a difference but for some reason (busyness, doubt it was for you, cost etc) decided not to turn up?

Shae Brown – Collingwood Netball Club’s Goal Attack
(Image courtesy of Collingwood Netball Club)

A little while ago I learnt a valuable lesson about the importance of turning up. How did this come about? I had the rare opportunity of being invited to participate in a netball training session run by Collingwood Netball Club’s Goal Attack – Shae Brown. It was in my local town, on a Sunday morning so no travel needed or time off work. Now I love my netball but as I am no spring chicken or A grade player anymore, I thought I would come and ‘watch’ and let the younger, fitter players get the benefit of Shae’s experience. Even so, I marked the day in my calendar and chatted excitedly to a few of my netball friends about it, expecting there to be great anticipation and lots of interest in the session.

And what do you think happened?

None of the U/18 team turned up, only two C graders, a couple of B graders and a handful of A graders….that’s all! To make it seem like there were more people there, the U/15 team was invited to stay for the senior session (they got two training sessions) plus the oldies like me (from night netball) were asked to join (luckily, I was prepared, active wear and runners ON).

And it was AWESOME. As someone who has played netball for 40 years, there is not much I thought I could do to improve … but I was amazed at what I picked up from a one hour training session with a National grade netball player. And when I played the following week, I was more motivated, I tried harder and had more fun (I think I even played better).

What has this got to do with being a rural woman?

Well like me and netball, I am sure you have lots of experience in your field and think there is not much more you could learn or do differently. Or perhaps you doubt that anything could inspire you or increase your enjoyment of something you already love or have been doing for a long time. Or maybe you doubt your ‘fitness’ to do the work and be ‘good’ enough to participate. Or do you doubt whether you are the right person, have the confidence, or think you are too busy…? We have lots of excuses to why we don’t turn up.

But what if it was as simple as turning up when the opportunity arises?

My experience last week taught me yet again the importance of accepting invitations (and then turning up) to events that initially, we thought were for others more experienced or deserving than us.

If I hadn’t put it in my diary, if I hadn’t put on my training gear, if I hadn’t turned up then participated when others didn’t show (and given it a red-hot go even though I felt unfit), I would not have had the great experience of being trained by a top-grade professional and the flow on effects it had.

What opportunities are you letting go by you because you think, ‘it’s not for me, I don’t have the time, others would benefit more, I’m too old/young’….I’m just a woman, farmers wife, mother…

If it is one thing I have learnt over and over again, the women who make a difference, are the women that are brave and ‘turn-up’ even when they weren’t invited. They are the ones that if they can’t bear to go by themselves, find a friend or friends and go with them. They sit up the front and ask the ‘stupid’ questions (the ones that the whole audience is thinking but not brave enough to ask), they hang around at the end to get more information and exchange contact details. In short, they grab the opportunities to grow themselves and by doing so take others with them.

Is this you? Could it be you? Is there something coming up that could benefit you, if only you turn up?

If you don’t go, you will never know. This is not about ‘fear of missing out’ and going to everything, but about taking life’s opportunities and ‘turning up’ to events that stretch us and make us grow.

So take the time to utilise the opportunities presented by the Rural Women’s Network…and turn-up….perhaps I will see you there?

Dr Kristy Howard is a rural consultant working in North East Victoria to make farming operations more profitable, viable and enjoyable.