Resilience through the eye of the camera lens

Reflections on creativity and resilience

Having just returned from a Travel Photography course I am struck by the very close links between the course and to my work in resilient leadership.  In particular the link between what I do and who I am.

The first lesson was around adopting a beginner’s mindset.  I feared that I would be ‘found out’ as the least knowledgeable of the group and initially I noticed a desire to sit back and try to make myself small.  However, having the awareness of this (it’s a familiar pattern) I decided to trust my instincts and relax into the process.  Our tutor Tracy Hallett guided us gently through assignments designed to relax and she encouraged the group to have fun with our learning.  By letting go of the mindtalk I was also able to let go of my expectations and really start to listen and learn from the amazing environment at West Dean College.

A photographing treasure hunt gave an opportunity to explore the house and grounds. I began to feel on solid ground.  Each of us explored the estate from our own unique perspective. No one was better or worse, experienced or inexperienced – we were all just different and we saw the world in different ways.  My curiosity was heightened.

As the days and assignments passed our individual artistic styles started to emerge in our work.  Tracy taught us the ‘Rules’ and encouraged breaking them in order to experiment and to play.

One challenge was to sit at a bench for 5 minutes and not move. Pictures were to be taken of whatever emerged for us.  My goal for the programme was to leave with one picture I was proud of.  It was this vision that kept me still for the full five minutes.

Five minutes may not seem like a long period of time however it required considerable effort on my part. It was a change from my normal way of wanting to be constantly in action.  I saw things just out of range, I wanted to get up and move closer to objects.  I was convinced that I would take a ‘better’ picture if I were only 3 feet further forward – but NO, the challenge was clear.

My mind slowed down and my ‘being’ took over.  The ‘doing’ side of me was put firmly in my camera bag and I experienced a deeper listening to the birds in the trees and watching a duck take flight.  The outputs may not have been technically brilliant however the learning was tremendous. I was living in the present and enjoying it rather than planning for the future.  My confidence in my photography grew enormously at that point.

I practiced being fully present in my surroundings and I was able to see the world more clearly. I noticed more and I experience the wholeness of the moment.  The desire to get it right, to avoid the fear of being ridiculed and the apprehension of holding a piece of equipment that ‘needed’ to be used at full stretch had actually been holding me back.  Those five minutes on the bench showed me that real learning could only take place once I had made a connection with the moment I was in.

The link to the Resilient Leaders Elements was clear to me. Tracy demonstrated Leadership Presence by serving the needs of the group and being committed to each of us developing as individuals and amateur photographers. This was based on a thorough understanding of her subject and having the confidence to hold it lightly in service of our learning.

My Awareness helped me to stay in the beginner’s mindset and really experience being in the moment, learning from others and the environment I was in.  I was able to let go of the self doubt and become fully immersed in my and others learning. In addition Resilient Decision Making allowed my creativity to open up possibilities to achieve my vision (Clarity of Direction).

Coming back to the office I am reminded of this learning. The dive into creativity has allowed me to redesign my website in a way that I believe mirrors more of who I am and what I do.  It also has my own photographs!  Take a look and let me know what you think.

 

Resilient Leaders Elements Accreditation Programme

Why

I signed up for the accreditation in January 2018. More of my clients were asking for proof that working with the people aspects of leadership was worth the investment.  The Resilient Leaders Elements fit the bill for me. It combined the ‘who I am’ with ‘what I do’ and gave a tangible measure for this. Plus it was grounded in some pretty solid research data.

I have also been noticing that my clients have an increasing focus on providing virtual programmes. The time and expense of bringing people together seems to be making more traditional programmes difficult to justify. Here again the RLE fills the gap for me and gives an opportunity to continue to engage with my clients.

The RLE programme

The assessment gives both quantitative and qualitative data that clients like and it opens up an opportunity to help them to work out what is really important to them and what they want to achieve. The challenges generated from the assessment connect the identified development areas with real world experiences. It’s on the job learning.

The programme offers the opportunity to combine the self-assessment with 360 feedback. This saves the client the cost of setting up a separate feedback programme and it deepens the individual insight.

The elements of assessment, challenges and feedback combine a common language and generate a cohesive programme.

My experience

The accreditation programme gave me the opportunity to explore and to understand the resilient leaders elements which of itself has added depth to my conversations with my clients.

The programme grounded me in using the tool from the setting up of a programme, enrolling test clients, supporting them and encouraging them, through to completion. In addition I was required to participate as a client myself so I was able to learn more about my own leadership style, develop areas I was less strong in and obtain much valued 360 feedback.  This which is something that as an independent I rarely get a chance to receive.

The challenges set along the way made me quickly understand why they were called challenges! I was encouraged to really explore who I was and how I showed up in the world. However they were fun as well as frustrating. One achievement for me was that I learnt how to ask for help and to accept when ‘good enough’ really was good enough.

The assessment highlighted that although I knew what I was passionate about, it was not always communicated in a clear way. In the past this has not been helpful to me as an independent consultant. During the programme I was able to experiment and play with this in a safe environment. I also received some high quality feedback.

My business has always focussed on having a voice and helping others to find theirs, with the support of the programme I have been able to deepen this.  I work with leaders who have an important message to get out and support them through the changing environment they are operating in. I help them grow themselves, their people and their businesses.

The accreditation process has been a safe space for me to grow, to challenge myself, to reflect and to experiment with how I want my work to develop in the future. It also gave me an opportunity to gain confidence in using the tool and an insight into the potential for my clients.

Results

I feel energised and positive.  I’m excited about the opportunities that are opening up for me.

During the accreditation I was able to experiment with using the tool in a virtual way with positive outcomes. Nine of my test clients were scattered around the world and have worked entirely virtually with the programme. There are no time zone issues to negotiate and people work at their own pace. The results to date show that those who have reassessed have achieved around 30% growth in their leadership behaviours.

I believe that using the tool will help me to future proof my business as I can work with clients virtually or face-to-face depending on their need. The programme is also flexible depending on the time and budget available.

During the accreditation period I have been able to experiment with using the tool as a one off insight for an intact team, coached a three-day face-to-face programme and worked individually with coaching clients. During the accreditation I have been working with two buddies and we support each other through the process.

I am also building my own formal evidence that developing leaders is worth the investment. The three day programme I participated in achieved an amazing 21% average growth overall. This is a fabulous ROI.

My investment in the accreditation programme has already paid off. I’ve gained confidence and expanded my business. So far the additional work generated has more than covered the accreditation fee.

I feel energised to take on a more demanding work schedule knowing that the Resilience Tools team have got my back for support and advice.

I finish this piece with a smile as I look at my completion certificate with pride. It is an A4 piece of card that signifies an amazing journey of learning, confidence building and a reenergising of my business for the future. What’s not to love?