Laura’s purpose: to undertake a physical and soul journey, initially via a photographic expedition, led by Frank. She loves her work but wants to explore her creativity, along the way working out what is important to her and what she will accept in her life.
Laura is the key character in the book Spaces Between, by Catlyne Hos.
This story traces her Resilient Leadership™ journey as she works towards achieving this purpose. Her growing love of the ancient Western Australian landscape — it’s empty red-earth expanses and little oases humming with life — is an essential part of her journey.
Laura’s goal for some time had been to study and find work, initially to support her children, but now, since they have left home, it’s to support herself better. She moved to Perth from Melbourne to take up a very good job with a mining company. It is the late 1990’s and the mining boom is still peaking. Recently however, she found her father’s old camera and wanted to explore her creative impulses.
Although Laura had been taking photography classes, she sensed she needed more. She undertakes a risky journey with an unknown photographer, Frank, into the West Australian bush. The creativity she discovers there is intoxicating and she falls under the spell of the bush, her way of seeing and the photographer/ guide. She takes more risks, overcoming doubts to learn to trust and falls in love with him.
She only has a few days with her lover but during this phase she becomes more attuned to her growing creativity and responsibilities. Through discussions with him, she starts to think about wider issues affecting her work and life including Aboriginal heritage, the importance of Indigenous rock art and the role of her mining company in dealing ethically with the land and its original owners. She starts to see that she has a role to play in the ethics and behaviour of the company. She does not include her lover in her thoughts of her future role.
For reasons not clear to Laura, her lover abandons her when he discovers for whom she works and, in her devastation, she reverts to old doubts and fears. At work, she is promoted to new responsibility and she works hard to overcome her feelings of abandonment and explore her work role diligently and ethically. She finds a friend at the emotional level in Marion, a professional colleague. Another important friend is a colleague at the mine, Duncan, who becomes a rock of support, trust and care for her.
Through taking a lead role in a visit to the Aboriginal community and working with Duncan, Laura feels more confident that she is on track working ethically and generously with them. She is however aware that the other executives in the company still work like a “boys club” and that she is excluded from many important decisions, despite being nominally on an equal footing with them. Her ally at the mine, Duncan, also stops providing the deep level of support she wants. She does not take much action to resolve concerns raised by this awareness and just focuses on her role. This culminates in 2 brutal assaults (one physical and one mental) where Laura must find every ounce of strength to continue through revelations of deceit. Through the pain and devastation, Laura recognises that she does have an important role to play even though she doesn’t know exactly how it will evolve. She finds strength to stand in the space of not-knowing from the Aboriginal elder, Mary, who shows the way of courage. When she reconnects with her lover, he is initially reluctant to take up his role and it is Laura who must show the way of a true leader.
Laura uses her newly strengthened creativity and courage to see a preferred future, based on kindness and cooperation, where all parties can win – the company, the workers, the Aboriginal Community and the environment. Through her strength and vision, all involved can find a way forward to a better path. Her future with Frank now seems possible as they can support each other’s potential.
Catlyne Hos, January 2019.