In this blog series, we ask our alums to tell us about their personal ‘pathway to politics’ and provide their recommendations for content that will help support, guide, inspire and engage other women on their political journey.
Susan Benedyka, Independent Senate Candidate for Victoria
I was so hungry to join the Pathways to Politics program last year because at the time of applying I had already made the decision to run.
My decision was based on the belief that we have to be the change we wish to see – something that I teach in regional and community leadership programs and share with CEOs and leaders that I mentor, as well as put into practice in regional leadership positions and my own businesses.
In the upcoming Federal election, I’m standing as an independent candidate to represent Victoria in the Senate.
I’m a businesswomen, regional leader and former CEO based in the beautiful North East of Victoria where I live on a farm with my partner about 15 minutes from Wangaratta.
In 2012, I was one of the founding members of Voices for Indi and was involved in three successful community-driven campaigns that resulted in the elections of Cathy McGowan, and subsequently Dr Helen Haines.
We were driven by the vision that we can create a different way of doing politics, engaging our communities, listening deeply, and supporting a community-based independent who works for the community and not a party. For me, I think it’s a job half-done if we only focus on community minded Independents in the House of Representatives. We need the same type of representation in the Senate.
Some of my sources of inspiration
Getting into the Senate as an Independent is so different to campaigning for the lower house, so I looked to the Pathways to Politics program for guidance, wisdom, shared experience and a sense of collegiality with others going through the journey into politics. Here are some other sources of inspiration that have supported me along the way.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (1989) and The 8th Habit (2004) by Stephen Covey
An oldie, but a goodie! I was introduced to this book when I was a participant in the Australian Rural Leadership Program over 25 years ago. Love the simplicity of seven replicable habits and a way of thinking that is so profound – ‘seek first to understand’, ‘begin with the end in mind’ and ‘sharpen the saw’ are three of those habits that I quote often (and probably ad nauseum!) I also really love The 8th Habit (another book)– ‘find your voice and enable others to find theirs’. Both of these books are easily available online, as well as in audiobook.
Start with Why – How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action (2009) by Simon Sinek
Simon Sinek introduces his book saying, “this is a book for those who want to inspire others and for those who want to find someone to inspire them”. Simon’s very famous TED Talk has been viewed over 32 million times! For me, this was a profound concept with such critical reflective questions – why do I do what I do? Why does it matter? What is my purpose? How can I serve?
Cathy Goes to Canberra – Doing Politics Differently (2020) by Cathy McGowan
Cathy has been a friend since the early 1990’s even though we lived in different states at the time. We both served on federal boards and would meet at numerous regional women’s gatherings.. This book encapsulates the spirit and the story of the way we changed politics in Indi. It’s also the story of a leader prepared to “turn up, speak up and step up”. Along with the link to the book for sale, Cathy’s website contains many of the materials we produced to help us capture the voices of the people of Indi, and shape her representation.
Holly Ransom – Love Mondays and Easy Tiger email newsletters
Based on Holly Ransom’s successful book The Leading Edge, these Ransom Notes turn up in my email twice a week. To quote Holly Ransom “Love Mondays is a weekly newsletter designed as a 3-minute hit to fire up the other 10,077 minutes of your week.” Easy Tiger begins each week with “Hey Tiger! How can you do more by doing less? Less scrolling negative social feeds, more nourishing the mind. Less procrastination, more creative inspiration. Take a quick prowl through our curated jungle of positive news bites to reconnect with optimism.”
I love them because they make me think – about contribution, about leadership, about self-care, about so much. Bite-size wisdom, with longer reads, evidence, supporting material for each key proposition. I can either read them in a couple of minutes or go deep on a topic heading into recommended videos, podcasts, and long reads. I also love her mantra:
Live Courageously, Lead Intentionally
Live Intentionally, Lead Courageously