Congruence – Aligning Vision, Values and Beliefs - Catherine Spence

Catherine Spence_blog

Have you ever noticed that being first, especially in the sporting arena often attracts great attention and celebration?  Yet, in other areas stepping up and being first in our country can expose you to the infamous “tall poppy” attack.  As Australians we are familiar with the “tall poppy” criticisms levelled at those of us who stand out “too much”.  From the perspective of NLP the “tall poppy” phenomenon is a pattern of behaviour (strategy) that uses the common human fear of not belonging to repress ambitions.  This means that in order to feel we belong, or fit in, many of us will play it safe, accept the status quo and live within the expected standards and conditions rather than risk rejection and harsh judgement from people around us.  Yet, for many Australian women fitting in or conforming to expectations has not been an ambition, rather we have followed in the footsteps of the women before us and focused on a much bigger picture, making a difference and doing what we believe is right.  

Catherine Spence (1825-1910) was a woman who dared to live her life true to her own values.  She believed passionately in the good of all people and that education was the key to helping them.  Her unstoppable ambition to create opportunities and education for all drove her to lead women, blazing a trail of firsts for other women to follow, including:

  • First female political candidate to stand for democratic election in the world
  • First fighter for representational voting in Australia (1 person, 1 vote regardless of gender)
  • First female member of several Reform Boards
  • Co-founder of the first fostering-out scheme for children (herself fostering and raising 3 families of orphaned children over the course of her life)
  • Pioneering the children's courts in Australia
  • First professional woman journalist in Australia
  • First woman novelist in Australia
  • Wrote the first social studies textbook used in Australian schools
  • Among the first to combat the squatters' monopoly of land

As Australia’s first professional female journalist, Catherine was a prolific writer.  But more than this, she was a writer who regularly upset the apple cart with her forthright and intelligent views.  In her autobiography (ch. XXIV) Catherine accurately describes herself as:

"a clear-brained common-sense woman of the world who was entitled to have her views heard". 

With the prevailing beliefs and limitations imposed on women Catherine challenged the male-dominated press of the time.  Her columns - although seen as irreverent and impertinent - were so popular they were syndicated to many newspapers.  She never penned a Woman's Page, instead focusing on women’s issues and struggles for rights as citizens. 

A passionate advocate for representational voting she became the vice-president of the Women’s Suffrage League of South Australia.  With Catherine a significant player in this organisation, it became an irresistible political force resulting in South Australian women becoming enfranchised in 1894.  This made South Australia the first territory in the colony to grant voting rights to women.  Further, she continued to fight for, and eventually won, the right for all women to stand as political candidates at elections, making South Australia the first state in the world to acknowledge this fundamental entitlement.  Armed with this newly won right Catherine then stood for election in the 1897 Federal Convention. 

Despite these successes Catherine knew the job of achieving full democratic rights for women was only partially done.  She continued the battle, helping her sisters in Victoria and New South Wales by speaking at many large gatherings where she uncompromisingly urged for all governments to allow women their democratic right to vote.  She turned these dinosaurs of government with the power of clear and logical arguments like equality, justice for all and the bleeding obvious – it’s just not fair!  Her efforts resulted in an irresistible juggernaut that culminated in all states, territories and the Commonwealth relenting by 1902. 

Catherine Spence was indeed a remarkable woman.  She maintained her focus on the big picture vision of equal rights, and despite many efforts to discredit and undermine her she persisted with passion, vigour and a vision that could not be clouded.  Catherine took on and advanced many great causes and earnt the title of the ‘Grand Old Woman of Australia’ when she was laid to rest in 1910.  Driven by her values and beliefs she set about transforming dreams into reality and building a nation filled with opportunities.

As we look back and notice that the women who built our country often seemed immune, or at least resistant to the barrage of attacks, criticisms and obstacles levelled at them, attacks designed to cut them down to size.  That despite all efforts to have them fit in and conform to the dominant and limiting beliefs about “acceptable” and “proper” behaviour for women so many successfully resisted. Instead they were focused on a much bigger vision, aligned with their strongly held values and driven by their passionate beliefs.  This powerful way to achieve success was studied and documented in the development of Neuro Linguistic Programming many years later.  This means we have now the recipe that successful and resilient people consistently use to achieve their ultimate vision, and as all good cooks know, once you have the recipe you can master the dish!

In NLP we can master the insight to recognise where and when we have alignment between our dreams, values and beliefs.  Of course this also means we can identify where there is a misalignment – and then it becomes easy to see why some goals and dreams seem to elude us over and over.  With this new awareness we can then choose to focus on what really does matter to us, the big picture – the vision and outcome that aligns with our values and beliefs, or jump into NLP and learn how to upgrade your values and beliefs so you can continue the tradition of the women who built our country, making a difference and doing what we believe is right.  

Make today your day!




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Joanne Clark

Joanne Clark is an Internationally accredited Master Trainer of NLP who has been delivering NLP training since 2011.  Being on her feet in front of training rooms is where Jo loves to be and her passion for inclusive and immersive training that delivers outstanding learning outcomes is apparent to everyone in her training rooms.  On average Jo delivers 140 days of training per year in addition to online webinars, guest speaker events and group coaching. 

“NLP is at the core of all my training and coaching, it is at the core of who I am, how I interact and connect with people.  I am absolutely passionate about spreading the NLP tools across the planet as I endeavour to support Robert Dilts’s vision of Creating a world to which people want to belong.” Joanne Clark

Certified Master Trainer of NLP; Master Practitioner NLP, Hypnotherapy & Matrix Therapies; Performance Coach; Cert IV Coaching; Advanced Practitioner in Coaching; Cert IV in Business; BA(Hons); Majors in Sociology and Psychology; Parent Education Leadership Training (PELT) Certificate; Mother of four children; Private Pilot (PPL); Diploma in Life Coaching