Chyloe Kurdas has always been a woman on a mission, intent on making her mark in history and investing in the future of others.
Chyloe is passionate about AFL and while she knew at the age of five years old, that she would never get to play professional football, she has dedicated herself to ensuring that would not be the case for the women who followed her. Chyloe’s own journey with AFL includes 15 years as a player and coach, eight years on a club board and four years on the women’s league board, as well as 10 years at AFL Victoria.
After Chyloe’s dream of #AFLW became a reality at the end of 2016, Chyloe has now moved on to her next challenge. Having spent most of her life empowering women in AFL, Chyloe is now combining her three passions – travel, wellbeing and investing in people and the community by launching her business Own Journey Travel.
Own Journey aims to empower young people, encouraging them to be curious about themselves and their own authenticity, and their place in the world. Tours integrate a unique personal development program based upon positive psychology principles, with young travellers aged 18-23 enjoying five workshops exploring concepts such as empathy, gratitude, resilience, mindfulness and authenticity across ten day tours of Cambodia.
The hallmarks of Chyloe’s work with young people reflect her passion for investing in the holistic development, wellbeing and empowerment of young people, and the power of community.
Aptly named ‘Own Journey’, as Chyloe understands the importance of each of us making our way in the world, and gaining wisdom through our own experiences. Own Journey Travel programs are building a supportive community to enable young adults to continue their growth long after their initial program is completed.
What has made you so passionate about investing in the development of young people?
My own journey as a young person was tricky at times and I have a very good understanding of how vulnerable a time that can be. I have my own personal experience, combined with being psychology teacher at high school, at Taylors lakes, as well as my experience in AFL guiding young women.
This has left me with no doubt that we need a community to help navigate through the years, when we are at our most vulnerable. Having people around you to support you through this transition, is so important. It is truly what I am most passionate about in life.
Why did you choose to leave AFL Victoria?
I have been asked this question so many times. For most people the announcement of the AFLW was the beginning of something amazing, and it was! It was something I had given my heart and soul to for many, many years. For me it was seeing my vision become the reality I always knew would happen. So the actual announcement of the 8 licensed clubs, was more a feeling of relief and to be honest, one of exhaustion. I had been working for so long and I had been working so hard, I felt like I no longer needed to be there, as it was going to happen. I could comfortably move on knowing that I had done what was needed.
Once the announcement was made, for me, it was time to climb my next mountain.
You are driven by a passion for helping and educating others, is this something you always had?
Yes, it is!
I am driven by creating a community within a world where life can be tough. I want to create a community that is really supportive, one that is totally inclusive and serves its people, so we can all thrive. There is such value in supporting each other through our own journey.
So, what’s next?
Since leaving AFL, I have developed more of a portfolio career, which I’m really enjoying. I am loving being a key note speaker and have been asked to present at many organisations, both sporting and corporate. It’s great to be able to share my knowledge and learnings, and see it helping individuals and organisations, particularly helping them find a different pathway.
I’m also teaching at Melbourne Uni in education and sports coaching, which really focuses on teaching people to manage and lead groups and teams of people.
While I have just launched www.ownjourneytravel.com, I also have big plans ahead. Longer term I will be looking to grow, not only the number of participants, but also the destinations. Our first trips next year are to Cambodia, but the next destinations will include Peru and then North America. Knowing how much the experience of travel has helped my own development, I really hope that Own Journey can help others experience similar things.
You now have a website www.ownjourneytravel.com and have your first programs in place, what was your biggest challenge to get this far?
While I am really enjoying having a portfolio career, having a split focus and needing strong time management, I have found to be a real challenge.
Starting something from scratch, has also challenged my confidence. It’s a little like inviting people to a party and hoping they turn up. So in dealing with this anxiety and the natural fear of rejection, I have to work on not succumbing to those feelings. I know how great Own Journey Travel product will be and am looking forward to enjoying our first travellers’ experiences.
Who was your biggest support?
My partner has been fantastic, as well as the community around me. I had lots of coffees and without exception, everyone has been really wonderful. People have never said no, and I’ve learned about how much people genuinely want to help each other. I have forged some great friendships in the last 12 months, that I know will now be friends for life.
Own Journey Travel, is my child and as they say, it takes a village! I couldn’t be more appreciative of the village that has helped me reach this point.
What advice would you give to other women facing major life events or choices?
Don’t panic, don’t react through fear, anxiety or even through exhilaration. It is important to breathe, take stock and consider your responses. Take some time out, see things as they are, make sure you talk to other people and get feedback.
Then pay attention to their feedback, honour it by considering their point of view. It could open another door, that you can’t see right now and you never know where that may lead
What advice would you give your younger self?
Invest in the process not the outcome and shake off the shackles of trying or being expected to be perfect. The real riches and learnings come from not being perfect. Everyone is on their own journey.
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