Josh Gilbert is the winner of the 2016 Unleashed Local Legend Award. As part of our annual Unleashed Awards, the Local Legend Award goes to someone working in their local community to create outstanding positive change — especially in rural and regional areas. We asked Josh to write about some of the things he has experienced as a social entrepreneur.
Four months ago, I found myself standing on the side of a road — tired, burnt out and physically exhausted. It was just after 12am and I woke to the abrupt bang after the car had smashed into the tree and just in time to ride the crash like a roller coaster into a sign along the edge of the highway.
In hindsight, the warnings were all there. I had been pushing for months to try and ‘achieve more’. Fitting in work, advocacy, farm work and trying to maintaining personal relationships. But this night, all the building blocks I had worked on trying to put together came crashing down. The lack of sleep and stress had caught up, teaching me that it was time to reconsider what I had been juggling.
But I am not alone in this journey. Like many young people who strive to create a better world, we often work ourselves to a point of exhaustion and confusion. It is an unspoken code that we frequently hint at, refusing to share that we are in need of help or rest.
Over the past few months I have been trying to put together the broken pieces of what I had created. It has meant rebuilding a healthy sleep pattern and routine, adding time to rest into my schedule and making sure I check in with how I am going. Through the support of my family, friends and mentors, this process has become easier as I try to recreate what I thought I had lost.
However, it was recently at a retreat just out of Sydney where I was really forced to connect and engage with the underlying principles of this drive for change. Surrounded by some of the greatest young minds in Australia, of new friends and old, the retreat provided me with the opportunity to remove the mask that I was wearing and connect back with who I am and what I hope to achieve. But most importantly, it allowed all of us to share the words we often hide, our true intentions and feelings, what keeps us awake at night and keeps us going. It meant that we could have conversations that are usually deemed secrets and allowed us to connect. Truly connect.
Young entrepreneurs and changemakers need the opportunity to connect with each other and check in to ensure they are looking after themselves. Too often we hear of burnout and stress and think that they are an essential part to becoming an entrepreneur. That it is something we must to achieve to earn our place in society and obtain the title we seek.
No longer can we allow entrepreneurs and changemakers strive towards the stereotypes that society creates. We must allow them and provide them with the opportunity to connect, or else risk losing a generation of youth to stress, burnout and fatigue.
Josh is a Worimi man from the Mid North Coast of NSW, who uses Indigenous wisdom and values, alongside his environmental and agricultural knowledge and background, to revolutionise the way we talk about agriculture and Indigenous issues in Australia, if not the world. Previously the Chair of the NSW Young Farmers, he led one of the first international agricultural climate change motions at the NSW Farmers Annual Conference, which attracted national and international attention and in 2015 he was named in Pro Bono Australia’s Impact 25 as one of the top 25 most influential people in Australia for his work in climate change and agriculture.