Cricket training @ Henley Grange Memorial Oval (image source)

Living in Fellowship

Mark Upton
Nov 11, 2018

One of the core beliefs that guide our efforts at myfastestmile is acting ‘hobo style’. However, after multiple house-sitting stints and twice ‘invading’ extended family since arriving back in South Australia from the UK nearly a year ago, my family and I may have gone too far in living this on a personal level! Yet I’m hopeful the packing of boxes, moving of furniture and minor squabbles with my lovely partner Kellie (😁) over the last couple of days are now behind us as we settle in to our own home.

Where we have settled is just a 50 metre walk from the oval pictured above, where cricket, aussie rules and athletics take place. Also on the street is a lawn bowls club, and another few minutes walk west brings forth the beach and a surf life saving club. It is a community infused with sporting activity and one we are familiar with, having spent a number of years living there before our adventure in the UK.

Despite the familiarity of place and sport I’ve become acutely aware I’m not the same person who used to inhabit this area. My perspective on life, sport and society has broadened significantly in the last few years. In no small part this is due to the many rich conversations and experiences with my co-creators at myfastestmile and our formal engagements with partners.

Through a self-imposed provocation we’ve recently engaged in significant dialogue regarding the purpose, principles, practices and future direction of myfastestmile.

We’d like to connect with more people, face to face and remotely, to discuss and co-create ways to help people be more human through sport – living and working in fellowship. We believe fellowship has been deeply meaningful and valuable for us and we hope our partners feel the same.


I want to expand a little further on our thinking regarding fellowship, as it is another of our core beliefs yet easy to casually agree on without a critical examination of the implications for the status quo.

For us, heroic individual leaders and rigid hierarchy are not the way forward for helping more people find meaning, purpose and humanity through sport. We DO NOT need to identify “talented” and “strong” individual leaders. We DO NOT need to continue creating compliant and docile “followers” through a flawed organisational paradigm that endorses top-down control and metric-led performance management. We DO need to learn how to learn together and surf the waves of uncertainty. We DO need to balance and share power by exploring the dynamic interaction of leadership and followship.

An excerpt from Small Arcs of Larger Circles by Nora Bateson

“ The very word ‘leadership’ has become cringe worthy. It reeks of colonialism and lopsided history-book listings of individuals successful in taking, making, and claiming. Celebrating the potency of the individual is an insatiable ghost haunting the endless array of courses and manuals for developing leaders.

I would like a moment to call bullshit. This thinking about leadership is not useful. There is no such thing as an isolated individual – we are all interdependent. Period. Our evolution is only in our mutual contribution and learning. Mutual. Leadership is an evolving process and, as such, our understanding of what leadership is must evolve in accordance. In the past the world understood leadership as the great deeds of heroes; now we are in another phase of global transition that requires an understanding of leadership based on our understanding of interdependency.

Leadership does not reside in a person but in an arena that can be occupied by offerings of specific wisdom to the needs of the community. So leadership is produced collectively in the community, not the individual. The individual’s responsibility is to be ready and willing to show up, serve, and then, most importantly, stand back. Leadership for this era is not a role or a set of traits; it’s a zone of inter-relational process. Step in, step out.”

Step in, step out – this feels like the essence of fellowship for us.

Time for me to step out. Who would like to step in?