As co-founder Fabian Dattner sets off for Argentina to depart for the inaugural Homeward Bound Antarctic voyage, she shares her thoughts on the journey up to this point, watching a dream become a reality.

Who would have thought that my life, and the lives of many others, would be turned around on the power of a dream? Who would have thought that fateful moment when I woke up on Wednesday morning October 2014, and thought, ‘Wow, that dream felt real!’, that the architecture for a significant concept would already be laid down? And who would have thought sharing the dream with just one other person would start a global movement?

But it has, and on 29th November, I will leave from Tullamarine airport for Ushuaia in Argentina, together with the faculty for Homeward Bound, and the adventure of a lifetime.

Do you want to know what it’s been like? Will you even believe me if I tell you the truth? Even when I say it to myself it sounds apocryphal – a made-up fantasy. But it isn’t, and here’s the truth of Homeward Bound, which I face only days away from the dream becoming confirmed reality.

  1. It is happening exactly as I dreamt it, only bigger, broader, with more people involved and with greater impact.
  2. Many things I have believed, in the last decade in particular, about leadership and the world we want versus the world we fear, have become manifest in Homeward Bound: the power of collaboration to shared purpose; high degrees of autonomy amongst people able to do; my responsibility for managing the message, holding the centre whilst encouraging immense flexibility in implementation; not being afraid to let go but being clear about what to let go of; being willing to try and fail and try again – quickly; letting the dream grow in the hands of people who started to dream too.
  3. Homeward Bound has moved from a dream to a global movement in the space of two years, and today many millions of people have heard about it and many thousands are involved in making it happen.
  4. It has been and continues to be a bewilderingly seamless experience; I feel like I’ve just turned the pages, and the next steps were there to be read – by me and all the people involved.
  5. The central partnerships have been everything – Jess’ brilliant can do attitude from the get go, channelling her skill into getting key people on board early in the journey (if she had said it’s a ‘no go’ in those first four weeks, nothing further would have happened; but she didn’t – she got the dream as if it were her own, and she started to escalate the idea up through the Australian Antarctic Division until we had the blessing from the top). The dream would never have become reality without the humour and gentleness of Justine and Mary-Anne, with Jess, on the science, the strategic courage and experience of Kit, the endless skill, thoughtfulness and design talent of Marshall (leadership) and Mel (production), the quiet background wisdom of Greg (expedition leader), the determination and visible courage of Jules (visibility) and Sarah and Sonqiao (visibility/comms).
  6. Of course, that doesn’t even touch on the documentary team (Greer, Ili, Kess et al) and all those people who’ve pledged money to make a documentary that interrogates the nature of leadership in our world, through the eyes of women in science.
  7. And even still, no mention of the amazing women (76 in all) who have put their perspective as leaders and as women into our hands, with the support of 60 coaches around the world…
  8. OR the organisations far and wide who have donated time, effort and imagination – from logo to clothing, from IT platform to diagnostics – all for a common cause.

So, right now as I work with a group of leaders in my day job, my mind wanders effortlessly to what lies ahead – now only a few sleeps away – and I am finally lost for words, carried forward – as with all the people involved – on a deeply felt sense of rightness: right purpose, right time, right people, right outcome.

I know what ‘flow’ means now; I know what purpose, autonomy and freedom mean. I know what it means to lead and be led. And I know in my bones what is possible for humans, when leaders act on behalf of the greater good.

Stay with us on this journey. It’s for all of us.

Fabian Dattner is the co-founder of Homeward Bound. Read more about Fabian on the ‘Faculty’ page.

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