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Mark’s Reflections on Loyalty. A 5 part mini-series.

For the month of February, Mark has focussed his Friday reflections on the theme of Loyalty. Here are his weekly reflections all in one post for you to read and reflect on. There are some key questions for you to answer, so grab a pen and a notebook and write down your thoughts on what loyalty story you carry and how it has evolved to the present day.

1. Finding common questions

Mark Yettica-Paulson's reflections on Loyalty. 5 part mini series

It was just over 100 days between 14th of October 2023 to January 26th 2024.

In those 100 days we all moved through the reactions, feelings and thoughts about the impacts of the Referendum results.

In those 100 days it hasn’t felt like we dodged division. It has been hard to hope that we’ve got a better platform to work on our challenges together.

It feels like we have less common ground because it feels like our positions have hardened. It feels like we are more opposed than before. It feels hard to have conversations about moving forward together.

Working in the collaboration space between First Nations and other multicultural Australians, Collaboration For Impact has developed the practice of Deep Collaboration. This practice allows us to stay in the room together, keep the conversations going, and stay in relationship when we feel like we crossed the line of patience. We talk about the moment when we feel like saying, “And that’s why I don’t work with you people!” But using the Deep Collaboration practice, we stay in the room, in conversation, and in relationship, because the work together matters.

I feel like we’re in a season like that now. The 100 days between October 14 and January 26 testify to the feelings and thinking that this is why we don’t get along. But we need to stay “in the room, in conversation, and in relationship” with each other. Our next days, months and years ahead will be impacted by our last 100 or so days since October 14. We have the chance to shape how we are going to grow, learn and move together from here. It’s us, no one else is coming.

I encourage you that if we feel like it’s too hard to find common ground to be together, then let’s find our common questions. What are we wrestling with? What are we struggling with? What are the challenges we share in our future together that need us to work together? We’ll continue to work on our relationships, but we’ll be in the room and in conversation.

Be encouraged and encourage others.

2. The Stories that shape us

Mark Yettica-Paulson's reflections on Loyalty. 5 part mini series

A great friend of mine introduced me to the idea of talking about “Loyalty” when talking about leadership.

The idea is that when you talk about loyalty you’re talking about strong beliefs that people have about something. It’s like when someone is loyal to a sporting team, they’ll say, “I don’t care what you say about them, that’s my team!”

The idea of loyalty speaks directly to our hearts and our instincts and it goes beyond our logic or reasoning. A Loyalty Story is a story that we hold to keep our beliefs in our loyalty. We tell ourselves these stories and we tell others to try and stay firm in our beliefs. In our current times, it makes me wonder what loyalty stories we are holding onto?

Some of us are holding onto loyalty stories that say we are divided as a nation.

Some of us are loyal to stories of togetherness.

Some of us are telling loyalty stories that we are in crisis and others are loyal to the story that there is nothing wrong.

The critical reflection for me is loyalty stories can get in the way of us working together or they can help us to move, grow, and thrive together? It all depends on their purpose.

What type of loyalty stories are you holding on to?

Are you holding onto stories that don’t help you to grow?

Are you loyalty to stories that believe the best in us or the worst in us?

If we are going to build our nation together, we are going to need to change our loyalty stories. It is going to be hard to do and will take time, but we need new and renewed loyalty stories to help us.

I encourage you to lean into your current loyalty stories, understand their purpose, and identify what might be holding you back. I encourage you to make the changes you need to so we can work together to make progress.

Renew your loyalty stories, tell yourself and tell others so we be more flexible and open to make change.

Be encouraged and encourage others.

3. Changing our loyalties

Mark Yettica-Paulson's reflections on Loyalty. 5 part mini series

This week I had the opportunity to share stories with folks from Aotearoa New Zealand and it made me think more deeply about our differences and similarities in history and cultures.

It also reminded me of how I changed my loyalty from New Zealand to Australia in rugby union. (Full story will appear on Super Native Unlimited).

Here are my tips on how to change your loyalty story, based on my experience of changing my loyalty from All Blacks to Wallabies Green and Gold.

  1. Change your thinking. I had to deliberately sit amongst my fellow Australians and develop a new thinking pattern. I would literally sit in food courts and say to myself, “These are my people.” Changing your thinking to make new patterns is vital to developing new loyalty stories.
  2. Change your appearance. I had to intentionally send out signals to my fellow Australians that I’m a supporter. Fan gear was a critical factor for changing the way I felt about myself and the signal I sent to others. Changing your look and the way you show up is another strong way to develop new loyalty stories because it changes the way you feel and the signals you send to others.
  3. Change your behaviour. I had to consistently coach myself to watch more sports and focus on actively supporting Australians. Changing behaviour to create new patterns is vital to developing new loyalty stories. It gets easier over time.
  4. Deliberately move from a general interest into a special interest. I developed special interests in Australian athletes so I could become more familiar with their stories. Changing your loyalty story will require you to get invested and interested. Make the effort to become connected.

If we can deliberately change our loyalty stories to be more open to others, then we can set new patterns in thinking and behaviour for better collaboration and belonging.

Be encouraged and encourage others.

4. Encouragement to Re-frame your loyalty story

Mark Yettica-Paulson's reflections on Loyalty. 5 part mini series

This month, I’ve been reflecting on Loyalty Stories and how they shape and keep our beliefs.

This week I was reminded that the loyalty stories we hold onto can either get in the way of collaboration or can be the thing we need to break through.


In the work of Deep Collaboration we see this often. Sometimes it can be a small change in our loyalty story to change our perspective, shift our thinking, and alter our beliefs. It can sometimes be the difference between break down and break through.

There is no shortage of good, kind, clever, and committed people who have dedicated their careers (and sometimes lives) to making change in their local communities.

We’re not missing talent or energy. I feel like a slight change in our loyalty story can make a difference in the way that we take on the tough realities around us.

Here are my top four encouragements for re-framing and changing our loyalty stories about our role and purpose in change:

  1. We all have a legitimate starting point – it is popular to think that we don’t have enough of what it takes to step up and do something. However, what I have found is that everyone has a legitimate starting point. We are also role models for others who are like us. I encourage you to change your loyalty story from “I don’t have enough” to “I’m the perfect example of”.
  2. Doubt is ok, don’t let it paralyse you – it is popular to think that we need certainty to do anything. However, what I have found is that we need to pay more attention to the relationship between belief and disbelief, as both are correct and partial. I encourage you to change your loyalty story from, “We need absolute certainty” to “We have enough”.
  3. We have things in common – it is popular to think the “other side” in your collaborations or communities have ‘nothing in common with us’. This loyalty story keeps us believing that we would never reach agreement or have a shared sense of identity. However, what I have found is that everyone has things that they love, protect, and fear. I encourage you to change your loyalty story from, “We’re not the same” to “We all have loves, hopes and fears”.
  4. Change is happening – it is a popular expression of frustration that nothing has changed, and we are still stuck. This loyalty story heightens our senses to the things that seem stuck or in cycles that resemble old patterns, but waters down things that demonstrate change has happened. I encourage you to change your loyalty story from, “Nothing has changed” to “Some things feel like they’ve changed, and some things still feel stuck”.

I hope that you can take something from this in your own loyalty story about your role and purpose in making change.

Be encouraged and encourage others.

5. Feedback and finding the sacred in your loyalty story

Mark Yettica-Paulson's reflections on Loyalty. 5 part mini series

I had the privilege of working with people locally in the region and with people online across the country.

All the work I did this week was rewarding and fulfilling.

Overall the work was received well and people were grateful.

However, there was also some feedback that was not impressed with my work. I welcomed the feedback to learn and grow. It made me reflect on how important it is to hear different perspectives because we all have blind spots and won’t know until someone brings it to our attention.

My reaction and response to this week’s feedback prompted an inner question, “What is sacred in my loyalty story?”

What are the things that I hold sacred and keep precious in my loyalty stories? What is the sacred core?

I believe that I am working with purpose to increase knowledge and understanding of leadership for First Nations here in Australia and the way we work with others. This includes having a focus on collaborations between First Nations and other Australians and a focus on First Nations leadership.

When I get things wrong, make mistakes, mis-judge or misunderstand, I accept my responsibility and seek to learn and grow. In this regard, I am loyal to my purpose, and accept my mistakes. Making mistakes is such a significant element of learning.

So I test my loyalty story with the feedback I’ve received. Am I true to my loyalty story and purpose for doing this work? Does the feedback indicate I am off-track or made a mistake? I believe enough to keep going. I believe enough to keep learning.

I hold the core of my loyalty story sacred. This means I hold attachment and ego lightly enough to let go of things that are less important than the sacred core of my loyalty story.

The sacred core of my loyalty story is my purpose and the drive for doing the work I do and being the person I am. The feedback helps me see from other people’s perspectives.

I hope this helps you to test your loyalty stories. What is sacred and drives your reason for doing and being? What should you hold lightly that can be challenged and changed?

Be encouraged and encourage others.

NEXT: March Reflections on SACRED GROUND

Make sure to read out next articles, where Mark focusses on Sacred Ground.

This is a collection of 4 short articles, with Mark’s final reflection on Sacred Ground coming out tomorrow on Easter Friday.

April will be another month of Mark’s Friday reflections, which he also shares on his Linkedin Account, this time writing on what it means to have a Sacred Site.

Be encouraged and encourage others.