The application for the American Express Leadership Academy was shared with me by a colleague at work and I was really interested in the process from the outset. I have always valued the capacity to reflect and think but the first thing that stood out to me was that there could be a great opportunity to be part of a diverse group inspirational people. Over the last few years, in particular, I think my life has offered me many areas to grow and develop and my hope was that by attending the programme there would be space to reflect at this time of my life, to feel the development and how attuned it was to where I wanted to be. I think something that I have been aware of in my life is that I can often use the positive energy I have to attain, develop, inspire and challenge myself as well as those around me but in this energy, I can sometimes lose direction for other goals and ambitions in life.
I can’t write that there were transformational or even eureka moments during the week and what I took above all else was the inspiration and multiple layers of wisdom from the guests and colleagues throughout the week. I think a big affirmation for me from lots of people during the week was the power in being yourself and relating to others from that space. I am constantly aware of agendas, political influences, needing to adhere to predetermined goals in my work and what I got from the week was a reminder that in all of that ‘you are you’. That I can bend, flex and integrate but not at the cost of selling my soul for satisfaction. The week was an affirmation of my integrity, something that I did not expect at that great level but remain grateful for. I did fear that we were going to be offered some very functional CBT based ideas on leadership and some re-hashed motivational gunk to stay positive and be a ‘YES’ person to life, however, I found that the process embraced the uniqueness of us all and this was reflected in the wonderful array of guests who took time to share their knowledge and experiences, but most of all their personality and character.
The workshops were great, the groups stimulating, the supervision incisive and the people relatable. A truly amazing week.
The greater impact of the week has materialized for me since leaving the group. Inspired, I immediately realized that the energy invested in my work and not in my personal ambitions around my writing was causing me conflict. Since the week I have taken action to balance this out and I have now reduced my working week to develop the model I have around addiction and the current treatment system. The Academy has been part of a catalyst and after a conversation with a colleague who has been on a similar pathway we are now halfway through writing a book, have created our own website, have been asked to deliver training for psychotherapy institutes both here and in Europe and are currently thinking about taking advice on how to set up a C.I.C. (any experts on this out there please get in touch!!) as a vehicle to deliver this and make our work available to as many people as possible across the world.
There was also a theme for me during the week about a recent project at work that has significant importance, I am now the lead on lots of areas in this and feel that taking time during the week at the Academy, listening to colleagues and guests and reflecting on some theoretical ideas have helped me clarify my capacity, making me feel strategical and internally effective in what we are trying to achieve.
Thank you to everyone who makes this happen and the people I was fortunate to meet and share the journey with so far.