Earlier this year, after much going back and forth, doubts and hesitation, I decided to take the plunge and enroll in the “Women's Leadership Program” by Carla Clarissa van Stralen. Why was this such a difficult decision for me? Because I knew this programme would force me way out of my comfort zone. Yes, you read that correctly: I actually do have a comfort zone. But it's quite a big one, if I say so myself.
Put me on a stage in front of a big crowd and I'm the happiest person alive. Let me play silly games with grown-ups and I’m in my element. There’s nothing I like to do better than running around like a 4-year-old, screaming weird shit at the top of my lungs. Heck, if you asked me to go out onto the street right now with toilet paper hanging from my jeans and a colander on my head screaming: "I am an airplane!", I’d be perfectly OK with that.
You can only make a fool of yourself if you believe you’re making a fool of yourself. I simply don't give a rat's ass what other people think. Just as long as I know, in my heart, that what I'm doing is for the right cause, with the right intentions, and without harming anyone or anything. If I were to tell you that I'm not that easily embarrassed? Well, that would be the understatement of the year!
So, when do I feel like I’m outside of my comfort zone? Or rather 'where' do I feel like I’m outside of my comfort zone? It's when I look within. It’s in all those dark and hidden places inside myself, where pain lingers and hurt is put away. It's also in the things that I usually qualify as Mumbo Jumbo: karma, spirituality, and all those other touchy-feely, intangible things that I really can’t be bothered about.
And that’s exactly what this leadership programme was all about. It focussed on the “woman within”. I actually called Carla before enrolling to discuss my doubts with her. She convinced me that being brave enough to take a look at my own fears and open myself up to new experiences would help me to better understand what being a woman and being a leader meant to me. That by embracing those things that make me uncomfortable, I’d become a better leader. So.... That's exactly what I did.
What did I get out of it? So much more than I expected. Including lots and lots of crazy facts and experiences I could’ve lived without. Louboutins, anyone? I had to look it up and….Seriously? How do you walk in those things? Sitting in a yurt while sharing emotions? Once was enough to last me a lifetime. But I also got to meet some wonderful and kick-ass women who were truly inspirational. And I’m very grateful for having been able to learn from them.
I discovered that:
I’m most happy when I'm around people I love, trust, and who give me energy.
I have it in me to be a good leader as well as being a team player. On some level, I’ve always known this but somehow I never really believed it. This programme made me realise that I don’t need external recognition to know I’m a good leader. All I ever needed was to trust my own guts and stick with that. Provide me with a stage and I will use it for good.
I give people energy by using my power in the form of play. You know the phrase: work hard / play hard? Well, that’s not for me. My life - work balance is: play hard / play hard.
Being a leader, to me, means working from a place of love, authenticity, and connection. I always thought that you had to be a manager with a lot of degrees to have a seat in a boardroom. But I realised that that is not true. I don’t need to be a manager but I do add value having a seat at that table. I’m not a ‘manager leader’ but a ‘servant leader’. I’m all about change and helping people be the best they can be.
My strength lies in being the jester who calls out the fact that the emperor is not wearing any clothes. Brutal honesty with the right intentions. A rebel of love.
Children are my gurus, adults my play pals. I want to continue to be marvelled by the world around me, to be able to wonder, to keep an open mind, and be curious. Without feeling the need to apologise for it. Life's too short to grow up and become disgruntled and sour.
I can use my pain to learn and grow. There's a bright side to everything, even to heartache and misery.
I'm here to create and continue to grow.
But most importantly, I developed my personal leadership vision:
I lead the way in my personal playful revolution! Using my newly rediscovered pay-off: "fuck colouring inside the lines", I want to change the world - 1 game at a time!
Wanna come and play with me?
PS. I still don't believe in all the spirit-stuff, luckily somehow it worked for me in a more metaphoric way. But hell no! I still won't go on that yoga retraite with you, YUK! ;)