Wednesday, January 19, 2011

experiential learning, or how I learned to stop worrying and surrender to the clay

Banff, Alberta.

We arrived in Calgary at 9:30 a.m. and it was minus 14 celsius.  By the time we got to Banff, it was plus 2, and it was raining sleet.  

Banff is the perfect environment in which to start a leadership adventure.  The inescapable reality of the mountains, the sky and the snow is designed to inspire.  And to be resident of a colony that was begun as one man's dream (to build a space for the arts on a mountainside, in the middle of the Great Depression) forces one to think big.

The entire two and a half days seemed designed to move us out ...way out...of our comfort zones. And it worked!  It was terrifying, and wonderful.

What did I learn? That it is very liberating to do things you are really bad not be the best, to not be in control, and to have to work and contribute nonetheless.  I was wowed by the insight and perspectives of my colleagues.  I laughed, I debated and I felt indescribably nourished.  I learned about the importance of creating a space for ideas and innovation to flourish.  I learned to harness parts of my brain that I don't use often enough.  I learned to listen to the "little voices" that too often get drowned out by the big drums. 

It truly helped to set us up for the rest of this journey.  

Now we are in Calgary, meeting with an amazing array of people. And what I learned in Banff is giving me a fresh perspective to bring to these meetings.  I see everything through a leadership filter, and I ask myself...what does this mean for Canada? for the public service?  for me? for my team?

all in all, a great beginning!

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