“You can all do what you want with your trees, but no one is cutting down my forest”…

… shouted the teenage Clan Chief. There and then we pledged to support him whatever it took.

Leadership is everywhere, although, without wanting to get too embroiled in recent controversy, we may sometimes be forgiven for feeling that it is nowhere.

My point is, at any given moment, any of us can lead. Many of the skills needed are innate, albeit in need of polishing and refining for true success. Whether we are driven by inspiration or desperation; a rough diamond or a shining example; our innate leader is there waiting for a reason to show up.

We seem to have put leadership in a box marked ‘business’. We don’t celebrate these skills in everyday life even though they can be transformational in everything we do.

Imagine a leader who, long before his passion became a worldwide topic, took action which resulted in a startling change. Imagine this leader daring to trust his dream to the point of overcoming not one, but many failed attempts; as well as sickness, language barriers, cultural clashes and the ultimate tension that exists between nature and capitalism. And then imagine him achieving his dream – and so much more than he could ever have envisioned – purely through dogged determination and ‘warts an’ all’ tenacity.

But guess what? This story does not need imagining – it exists. It’s written in journalistic black and white. It is the story of the adventure I experienced, alongside my partner Ric, to find primary rainforest in Papua New Guinea, as documented in Trees of Paradise our updated eBook here: amzn.to/3qUT0In

It is a tale of our personal mission and how it became a legacy for a whole tribe in a threatened paradise. Unknowingly then, every element of leadership in which I coach today was experienced, learned and embedded. I offer my heartfelt thanks to those resourceful people and their impossibly challenging forests, swamps and rivers.

It is also the story of our friendship with the teenage Clan Chief and his determination to fulfil his shouted words.

Fast forward to the future

35 years after pledging to support him and our tribal brothers and sisters in their fight to conserve their precious habitats and cultures – we are all starting to see positive, ambitious messages about preserving rainforest.

We all know this is critical to the future of our planet. Primary forest is that which has never been cut. It is used by indigenous peoples in a way that harmoniously supports life on both sides of the coin. We must not lose this way of life and there is precious little of it left.

Take the Earthshot Prize, the excellent new initiative from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, which has been established to reward those who are taking real action to help the planet. Importantly, this doesn’t mean massive, game-changing action. The initiative is what counts, the action trumping rhetoric in every case. Their prize winner for the Protect and Restore Nature Prize went to the Republic of Costa Rica for their exemplary nationwide programme to protect and restore their decimated forest. I love the parallel values with our own story – that there must be a lasting legacy in order for true success to be claimed. We must change the habits of generations, handing over the leadership and passion as we go.

Leadership: noun or verb?

My question here may be tongue-in-cheek, but it is no less valid: surely to lead requires one to act? It’s called ‘walking the talk’ but it seems that where we are rich with cliches and quips, we are very much poorer in action.

The ‘Paris Rulebook’, which is effectively the manual for how to deliver on the promises made back at COP25, was only finally completed this year? It was an action for COP26 to deliver, which it did, but what has been happening for the past 6 years? Where is the real action?

Our unsung heroes, who dared to stand up and fight to save their home for over 35 years, have acted continuously, with the result that today their forest remains standing. These tribes of the remote Hunstein Range who live in just six villages, spread across a vast 2,000 square mile footprint, about the size of Norfolk, are as resolute today as they were when we first helped them understand the dangers of exploitation and logging.

But life for them has got harder not easier. Their ecotourism efforts have collapsed due to global COVID. The cost of fuel for their outboard motors has rocketed. And the education of their children is in jeopardy – with the PNG government in disarray (like ours!) and fewer teachers willing to brave the Hunstein Range’s remoteness.

There is still major work to be done if our unsung heroes are not to lose heart. Therefore, I have a passionate request of leaders who wish to expand their knowledge and horizons: please invest in a copy of the updated eBook version of our story to bring you up to date.

All our royalties from this eBook edition (NB we don’t receive royalties from 2nd hand Paperback) go directly to our Education Fund for the new generation of Hunstein Range children. Their Education must continue – It will imbue them with confidence and global know-how. It will enable them to continue to fight to protect their forest – crucial for us all – in perpetuity. And today, it is the firstborn son of our teenage Clan Chief and his peers, who need your support. If they are to maintain their pristine forest, then education, mixed with their inherent wisdom, is a must. To help them fend off the inevitable onslaught of would-be exploiters, they will need to understand the exploiters’ ‘language’ and tactics.

At the same time, you may enjoy discovering the raw leadership tools that are strewn throughout our story. Some of them when honed and sharpened will be tools for you too – assisting you to make YOUR difference and leave YOUR legacy

One of our eBook reviewers simply wrote: “The dream that became a life-changing adventure.”

Your life-changing adventure could begin today.

Click HERE to purchase the book.

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