The Goal – Our climb up Kilimanjaro

To climb a mountain one does not simply start walking up its side. As with any other challenges in life, preparation is key. Mountains do not move, they do not give way nor offer a helping hand. For some, mountains have no interest other than the visual beauty they provide. For others however, mountains are a holy grail, a driving force that imbues these individuals with a sense of adventure. Mountains entice us to reach out of our comfort zones, they inspire us to escape the human world and embrace an entirely alien environment that is their abode. Disconnected from the human world we, as individuals, are able to root ourselves in our own consciousness and expand our understanding of personal actions and thoughts. Through this understanding we are able to connect to the world in a much more primal fashion.

This connection shapes the lifestyle that you aspire to for the rest of your life. This lifestyle revolves around a simple, yet effective plan: one summit at a time. Each summit is a stepping stone to the next, a gateway that has opened in your awareness. Where does this all lead, you might ask? Well, of course there is the goal. The goal is up to you to define, but that goal will impel you higher and higher and higher until you reach places in yourself and the outside world that you never thought possible.

You see, a summit is much more than just the top of a mountain. It is the sum of all of the steps taken to reach that point. By steps, I do not mean one foot in front of the other, but the planning, training and mental preparation that has been invested to get you as far as you have come. This combination of factors brings much more than just the joy of reaching the mountain top. These factors, when combined properly, help you to understand more about your body and aspects of yourself: the ones you excel in, and the ones in which you fall short. Climbing a mountain is physically and mentally strenuous, and while both aspects are imperative to reach the goal, physical training will entirely alter your experience.

We physically trained by climbing every mountain we possibly could within our difficulty level in the months leading up to Kilimanjaro, and were able to notice a tangible difference. Each training made the climb easier and easier, each training informed us on the limits of our body, what we could push and what had to be aware of. This physical training compiled itself in mental exercise. By dedicating ourselves to the goal, in this case Kili, we pushed further and harder than we ever had, always expecting excellence from ourselves.

I would like to digress for a moment to mention a fact that is often ignored: climbing is a very expensive sport. Therefore, in order to excel in climbing one must either attain enough affluence to be financially secure without having to work or be sponsored by organisations. While entirely different methods, these two paths have the same starting point: a dedication to mountains and a drive for the ultimate goal. For some of us, the cost of the next climb may even be the benchmark of what our income should be!

To contemplate a goal, one must first complete the prerequisites: firstly, the ability to fund the trip adequately. There is no cheap way in the mountains, there’s the safe way or no way. Once funding is secured, one must be physically fit. This does not mean going to the gym once a week to lift weights with friends; this is about training for your goal by practicing what you will be doing over and over until it is second nature to your muscles. Assuming you are physically in shape, you must ensure you hold the appropriate knowledge for your climb. Successful mountaineers do not pick a mountain at random, they do their research and know their routes. They expect the best, but prepare for the worst. Being prepared means knowing exactly what you’re going to do and where you’re going to go. But most of all, being prepared means knowing what is safe and what isn’t. Safety is paramount, and the hardest part of climbing a mountain is knowing when to give up. You may find yourself with the end literally in sight, yet, because it is unsafe, will need to turn around and go back where you came from. It can be very hard and the disappointment is immense. Along with safety come limits and boundaries. Boundaries can be pushed in a positive manner to help personal growth; limits on the other hand must be respected. Pushing yourself past your limits takes you from a place of safe development to a place of extreme hazard. You must always respect your limits and listen to your body.

Training isn’t just an excuse to explore the mountains: every time you climb, it is a progressive step towards your end goal. This preparation allows you to visualize yourself completing this goal. The more preparation you have, the more you’re able to visualise, and the more likely you are to complete your goal. But even with all the visualisation in the world, climbing a mountain takes longer than a boxing match; there is no “ding ding” done. To achieve your goal, whether it is a mountain summit, a business venture or personal development, “vumilia” is required. Vumilia, patience, is the driving factor hiding in the shadows: the undeveloped muscle that must be worked every day.

To conclude, I would like to leave you with a quote by the late Roger Payne, a truly brilliant mountaineer and wonderful human being, who took both Arshia and myself up our first summit together. Right before we set out, he told us: “the right pace is the one where you feel you will never achieve your goal. Only at this pace will you not only reach the goal of today, but also the goal of tomorrow.”

Pole Pole Vumilia Sana
“Slowly, slowly, with patience…”

Authors:

Arshia Soltan, BBA Student

Eric Illick, BBA Student

 

Looking for more meaning and impact in your life and career? Here’s how to start…

Recently a professional was feeling very frustrated by the fact that they were good at starting new projects but was frustrated because they inevitably ran out of steam before finishing them. This realization was causing self confidence doubt.

Another individual was very unsure about how to transition into a new career and was stagnating, unable to make a decision about their future.

Another young executive had recently realized that the shiny corporate job with all its “advantages” did not correspond to their values and was searching for ways to bring more meaning into his endeavours.

Today many young and seasoned professionals are asking tough questions and looking for answers that will allow them to expand their potential. Very often when people get caught up in their lengthy daily fast paced routines they lose sight of what they started out wanting to achieve. It’s difficult to listen, let alone hear what our heart is longing for when the mind is keeping us too busy.

The good news is, you can. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

#1 Feel Your Feelings…

Get angry or frustrated or confused or scared or excited…. It’s natural and healthy. No need for the stiff upper lip. Accept and love every emotion to create space. Respect your feelings, and then move forward. They provide insights around what you are resisting or longing for.

#2 The Value of Values

Discovering what we value can be elusive especially under the influences of the “shoulds” from society and loved ones. It can help to ask yourself, what is most important to me? Security? Creativity? Freedom? Independence? Money?

#3 Say “Yes” to Everything

Saying “yes” to all opportunities is a powerful expression of self-confidence. It attracts more (and better) opportunities and choices—you can always change your mind. Don’t wait for the “perfect” opportunity to appear, moving forward creates momentum and attracts other new opportunities. The things you say yes to should feel good, and even better, a little scary and exciting. This is a great sign that you are stretching your comfort zone and growing towards your full potential.

#4 The Secret to Reinvention

Don’t know what to “change into?” That’s okay. The only way to find out is to experiment. Volunteer, job shadow, temp or take part-time work in a field you’ve always been curious about as a career. The best place to start is to follow whatever you’re drawn to—trust your instincts.

#5 The “Crafting Life and career for more purpose and impact” Program

For over a decade we’ve been helping people tap back into their true North. We have now created a 2-day course to allow you to step back in a safe environment and have the conversations that you may not dared to have until now. Conversations that may be circling inside your head but you’ve not been listening hard enough to.

A unique experiential learning journey created for you combining assessment tools, reflection, peer to peer collaboration and discovery is planned.

Give yourself this time, to discover where you truly want to have impact and craft the life and career you believe will enable you to fully express your potential. Let yourself be surprised and come away feeling inspired and excited about creating your future.

Take a look at the program taking place on 26 March and give us a shout if you have any questions, we’d love to hear from you. If you are curious to find out more and would like to meet the lead professors, follow our Facebook Live broadcast on 19 February at 12h30 CET. Can’t make it live? Visit our Facebook page to view the recording at your leisure.

Authors:

Natalie Wilkins, BSL Professor

Nadene Canning, BSL Professor

 

Onto higher grounds – Holacracy at BSL after the initial 9 months of birthing

Our all-team meeting carried an entirely different energy than our initial meeting in late August last year. While at the start, everybody in the team was politely and cautiously positive, well, politically correct might be a better term, we now have a team with members that no longer hesitate to express their personal sentiments about their insights and learnings about where we are. That may sound simple but represents a huge shift in how far we have come as a team and what collective and individual work it took to break down the proper facades of polite, superficial engagement with the truth of the deeper struggles, resistances, blind spots and shadows, but also the deep personal learning, the enthusiasm, unlikely transformations and breakthrough. The team has gained in color, flavor, diversity of opinion, in authenticity and in honest relationships.

I am not sure to be able to identify the individual elements that brought us here, but I can try sharing my perspective. To me, Holacracy has been a weekly if not daily reminder of my personal shortcomings and challenges, of where there is room to improve, opportunity to let go, to investigate uninvestigated convictions and beliefs. All of which have triggered a journey of personal development of an intensity that I have been missing in recent years. I had forgotten what it means to work on myself and within myself. The shared journey we have been at together with the BSL team has brought this notion back into the center of my life and I feel much more connected to myself than I have felt in a while.

I had the chance to shed light into my shadows and I have jumped on the opportunity to use a coaching method to work with the most urgent thing I wanted to personally improve: my tendency to express frustration and impatience in an aggressive email. Six weeks later and rich in learning, I have understood that my deeply ingrained values have stood in my way causing this tension in me: one set of my values had to do with wanting to change the world – at all cost, including over-committing myself; another set of values related to me honoring my inner space and seeking deep connections with other. Looking at my shadow I saw how these two sets of values could end up cancelling each other out – creating distance with those I wanted and needed to work with in an attempt of changing the world, destroying exactly what I had wanted most: a deep connection. Sharing such learnings may surprise but by now I am entirely at ease of sharing this with my colleagues and with you. Holacracy opened up that space. This does not mean that everybody does or must share what is going on within themselves. There is full freedom to also share nothing, and some of us are happy with that, too.

9 months into our collective transformative journey, it feels a bit like the initial birthing process is completed. We have had at our last full day work session with Christiane, our Holacracy coach, and five members of our team are currently spending four days in Vienna taking part in a Holacracy practitioner training. We haven’t invested anything like this into our team and our development and I am sure both the coaching and the four team days as well as the training have done much to change our understanding of who we are together as a team.

A few months ago, some members have talked about lost trust and about the team spirit having gone away. We have very much struggled with the separation of work roles and personal soul space. It felt so artificial, so sterile, in the beginning. We didn’t know anymore what to do with our relationships, our culture, our ways of relating. It took months and months for us to slowly experience to what degree we have been mixing work and personal relationships, how we use relationships to get work done and how work issues stand in the way of seeing each other as persons. Some work issues didn’t get addressed because of personal relationships, some personal relationships suffered as a result of tensions related to work issues. I struggled so much with the projections of others, and I still don’t always feel that I am seen as just the person I am when I am having a cup of coffee or lunch with a colleague. Positions and titles and old hierarchy habits do still creep in. What I say still counts as more than it should and sometimes I think I need to go away for this to really dissolve. I had tried to shut up for three months and have since learned to frame what I say as “just an opinion” or “just a pitch” when I am not speaking from any role I am energizing. Yet, it takes more than me to change all of that. We all are required to bring so much courage and openness and vulnerability to work and we are maybe just now ready to start understanding what it takes in terms of safe spaces where we can expose our weaknesses and problems in the spirit of learning and developing forward. One step at a time.

To me, that one step at a time is clearly the best thing Holacracy brought to me. Rather than masterminding re-organization or strategy, or solving any complex issues, my biggest learning right now relates to trusting that one step at a time is all that is needed and the very likely best way to solve any complex issue. Steps in Holacracy are tensions and tensions are positive. That is learned by now and acquired. Yet, there is so much that lies still ahead of us. One of the future challenges is how to bring in our faculty and our students into a more self-organizing, power distributed organizations. Deliberately developmental company (DDC) is what they call places like ours; and we want to share such experiences with our students who come to BSL to learn about how to be responsible leaders in a fast evolving world. Organizing around purpose is one important element of that and it has brought a dynamic of innovation at BSL that was entirely unimaginable just 9 months ago. We have come a long way on our journey from static individual performers to an inter-connected agile organization in just 9 months. I am so grateful to my colleagues for this journey, after many lonely years, I feel that I have partners and peers again I can truly work, share, play and co-create with. And this is just the beginning!

Katrin Muff, PhD

Active in thought leadership, consulting & applied research in sustainability & responsibility, and directing the DAS & DBA programs