There was a last minute flurry of mobile phone activity as the bus rolled up to collect us for our four day odyssey in the adventure on the Larapinta trail out of Alice Springs. You could virtually see the buzz of thoughts and anxiety swarming like bees around the burdened heads of these extraordinary leaders.
Each of them had carved time from their work and family to be here for themselves, to work on their leadership, not just in it.
There was a sense of euphoria as the phones switched to flight mode and we drove out of mobile reception range. Permission granted to be present and soak up what the desert adventure had to offer.
The bones of the experience were to explore some of the spectacular walks that the Larapinta offers. There were sweeping views, secret canyons, hidden valleys, astonishing geology and plant life, and the incredible history of the resilient Arrante people who have been custodians of this remarkable landscape for aeons.
We slept in swags in a river bed under the star studded sky. Dingo tracks showed night time curious visitors. We swam in the chilly water holes, soaking tired feet and limbs, gasping with the shock of the cool, fresh water. Everywhere the soft muted colours of the desert eased busy minds back to rest and flow.
We ate well. We talked. We laughed.
Along the way we had Leadership Hot Seats where each leader took a turn exploring their specific leadership challenge and gaining insight from the group. There was plenty of time to connect and reflect.
Here’s what I discovered in conversation with them. Leaders are desperate for this one thing, and they didn’t really know it:
The reassurance that comes from connecting with other leaders who are on similar but distinct journeys.
Leadership can be a lonely experience that invites doubt and questioning of one’s ability, decisions, and capacity to deliver on the promises we make.
How can we know we are doing the right thing? That we haven’t missed anything major? That we are not going to shoot ourselves in the foot if we take a stand? That we actually have what it takes to pull this thing off?
Every time we step in to a new role, take on a new project, do something different, we are taking risks, We are going on a new adventure, and the dangers may be hidden from us.
It’s incredibly reassuring to know there are others facing similar things.
Here’s what my Mastermind participants said was the value of the experience for them:
‘It was a deep pleasure to connect with others on this level in such beautiful surroundings.’
‘I learned that there is a process to aligning people to common vision and values, and that there are often a lot of assumptions we make about that before we have the conversations.’
‘I discovered that it’s not the goal that counts but how I carry myself through the journey.’
‘I was amazed to find how much care there is from others about my challenges. And that I now have other people to talk to about my issues.’
‘There is such power in bringing people together to share and connect.’
Here’s what you can do to create your own tribe of adventurers:
Reach out to people you admire in your existing circle, or on LinkedIn.
Invite them to an intro lunch or coffee.
Tell them you are looking for like-minded peers to share challenges and perspective with.
Assemble the tribe and host a confidential conversation about what you are each facing.
Leadership is not a solo activity! And it doesn’t have to be so lonely either.