Breakthrough Leaders participant conveys her experience through poetry

Mel Templeton is New Zealand general manager at Rabodirect and is part of this year’s Breakthrough Leaders (BTL) programme cohort. She recited “Paddle Softly in Our Sunshine” to fellow participants at last month’s BTL sessions, a poem inspired by her journey on the programme this year. We ask her for her thoughts that led to the poem.

The BTL programme consists of 12 months of intensive workshops and one-to-one executive coaching and for Templeton, it has been a rollercoaster of personal learning, development and growth.

“The insights and accomplished people that we are being exposed to, along with the opportunity to develop ourselves, our leadership, and our understanding of the key discussions going on in New Zealand today, are fully integrated into the programme. Also the unique Kiwi way in which it is being delivered gives it an edge over many of the institutionally delivered leadership programmes,” says Templeton.

“One session in particular that provoked the biggest shift in my thinking was focused on conscious leadership. In beginning to understand the role of self, ego, masks and shadows and learning the true meaning of authenticity, I began to see things in a very different and more balanced light. Its been quite a life-changing experience for me both personally and at work.

“The powerful nature of the growth and development many of us are experiencing – individually and together – was my inspiration for the poem. It aims to touch on many of our revelations as we learn and grow together, gaining confidence in ourselves as we go, and it was my many conversations with cohort members on these very topics that led me to write about this poem on behalf of all of us.”


Paddle softly in our sunshine

Here we are, these women

Worthy and Strong

Banded together,

Not afraid to wade too deep

We take a breath

And share our wisdom for each to keep,

Growing together.


Each lesson learned, a gift

We treasure

A piece of our history that will lift us,

Stronger together

As we look inside ourselves we see

Our greatness, our weakness our needs

Leading us towards

A more peaceful place.


Each in ourselves as other see

Our bravery, our kindness,

Our confidence together

Our wonder, our torment,

Before too long

Unafraid to be gracious, yet strong

And in our hearts

Striving together


We look outside ourselves and see

Our sun soaked world calling free

To bathe more often in its light,

To feel its warmth and energy

Shining together

A privileged path we follow

Guiding lights glow all around

No fright or flight will fill our minds

As we paddle softly in our sunshine



So love your sunshine my beautiful friends

And think of this time, with fond heart

To friendships, to strength, and indeed to treasure

This precious time we have together.


– Mel Templeton