Discovering Your Inner Compass – Zoë Routh – Australia
I’m a British-born, Canadian raised, Australian adventurist. I came out of the womb ready to explore the world! My mother used to have to tie me around the waist with a rope to keep me from wandering off. That sense of adventure has stayed with me always.
My first real job was leading canoe trips across Northwest Ontario. It was wild, rugged and spectacular. I learned that the world is truly beautiful. I also learnt the value of companionship and the strength that comes with a tightly knit group. Belonging and connection are the heart’s currency.
From there I ventured across the continent and another ocean to land in Australia and work with Outward Bound Australia. For the next 10 years I had amazing adventures in remote parts of Australia, down its wild rivers, up its stunning mountains. I learned about leadership of my colleagues and how to set the direction for an organisation with limited resources. Here I established the registered training organisation and set up the Internship program, a year-long outdoor instructor development program. With my team I taught new outdoor leaders the technical and interpersonal skills required to help people develop themselves in remote settings. This included canoeing, rafting, abseiling, bushwalking, and high ropes courses, as well as facilitation and debriefing.
In 2005 after I’d launched my leadership development business Inner Compass, I discovered I had cervical cancer. It was not the usual kind and it was very aggressive. This was the news I received one week after getting engaged to my gorgeous Aussie man. We were devastated. Our plans for wedding and babies turned upside down.
I put my business on hold and underwent several months of chemotherapy and extensive abdominal surgery. These were dark days. Once I recovered, we underwent years of IVF, with roadblock after roadblock in our way. In 2010, we closed the door on that future, and embraced one without children. This has been both heart-wrenching and rewarding. We count our life as blessed.
I decided to live my life differently as a result and began a new adventure. For the next few years I reinvented myself, explored new ways of running my business and then landed a job with the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation. Here I continued to have my wild adventures as the ARLF included outdoor experiential learning with its programs. I developed leadership programs for various industry sectors like wine, rice, and mining communities. It was glorious!
The call for my own business kept pulling me back. In 2014 I embraced my leadership practice once more and it has been widely successful. I am deeply passionate about helping leaders discover the power of their voice and speaking their truth. I believe that leaders who develop themselves contribute in big ways to the planet. I am honoured to work with a number of CEOs and organisations as they hone their leadership, thinking, being and doing in service to better industries and communities.
The key insights for me are to keep the adventurist spirit alive, even through dark areas of life. To keep exploring, being curious, and savouring the views is my inner compass that guides me through life’s adventures.
About the Author
Zoë Routh is a leadership expert who has worked with individuals teams internationally and in Australia since 1987. She is passionate about helping leaders and teams thrive together, especially through times of volatile change. She believes that connectivity in teams, combined with change literacy, will create business resilience. She knows that when we speak our truth, we lead and elevate all.
Her past leadership roles include Chair of the Outdoor Council of Australia and President of the ACT Chamber of Women in Business.
She is the author of Composure: How centered leaders make the biggest impact. Her forthcoming book is Speak Your Truth: Leadership in moments that matter most.
Zoë is an outdoor adventurist and enjoys telemark skiing, has run 6 marathons, is a one-time belly-dancer, and loves hiking in the high country. She is married to a gorgeous Aussie and is mother to 6 garden-wrecking chooks.
Inspiring Story – Zoë Routh – Australia
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