Don’t confuse resilience with determination, or grit, or bloody mindedness. Don’t confuse it with flexibility or adaptability. It is all these things, but so much more when we talk about women, leadership and the state of our planet.

Perhaps men and women are entirely the same, resilient in the same way. Perhaps it is all conditioned, over thousands of years. It’s possible. But even so, it is time to free the spirit of women to act for the common good.

We do not want to leave our children. I see one of our beautiful faculty curled softly over her girls, saying goodbye, as she leaves them for four weeks to go to Antarctica. We do not want to leave our parents. I see the tears well up in another woman’s eyes as she briefly shares how unwell her mother is. I see the almost paralysing dilemma of leaving in every woman’s face I look into.

I also see grace, and determination and common vision. I see a squaring of the shoulders, a gathering up of all that is loved and left, to head off to do something to secure their future, our future. I see courage (coeur + rage = rage of the heart) in the smallest and the tallest, the youngest and the oldest of our global collaboration.

Men have gone to battle for aeons, to guard, to protect, to fight a common enemy, to stand with men and boys and claim victory. Or to lose and pay the ultimate price, afraid and hurt, side by side – brothers at arms. Who would not recognise and value this sacrifice?

But women? What is it that we do that is so elemental, so exquisite and hard to describe?

We will fight, tooth and nail to protect our children, to crouch over the vulnerable and weak. We will nurture the flower, the crop and the spirit of life. We do not choose a battle against an enemy so easily (they too have children), but we will fight to protect what is ours if we must. We help the sick, the damaged and those who have less. We help children. We help the elderly. We help the fragile and the vulnerable.

Fabian Dattner (front) on the third Homeward Bound voyage to Antarctica

In Homeward Bound we help Mother Earth. Activists alongside physicists, marine biologists alongside engineers, geologists alongside astronomers. We come together to learn to lead more effectively. We come together because we are stronger this way. We come together for the greater good.

We travel to the most remote part of our planet, to focus on home – earth. Not the science of saving it, but the practice of leadership that will ensure the science is heard and understood.

In a time when beliefs master fact, we tell each other the truth, about ourselves, our impact and the reality of the context we work in.

What is this, if it is not resilience?

Fabian Dattner is the Co-founder and CEO of Homeward Bound. One of Australia’s foremost experts in transformational leadership, for more than 20 years Fabian has led Dattner Group, helping organisations nationwide overhaul their leadership capacity.