After a bit of a cold snap the weather is already warming up and the trees already shooting their first baby green leaves. Spring is a wonderful time of new beginnings, exciting opportunities, refreshing growth and a time for us to shed the layers and heaviness of winter and approach life with a new zest!

As Gary Zukav says, “We cannot stop the winter or the summer from coming. We cannot stop the spring or the fall or make them other than they are. They are gifts from the universe that we cannot refuse. But we can choose what we will contribute to life when each arrives”.

For us winter was a time of some inner work – building our foundations, our systems, our value and offerings, our team and our home. We are now ready to launch these with passion and enthusiasm to the world. Winter has also been a time of deep learning.

Learning personally: Walking the Spanish Camino

I was lucky enough to knock a bucket list item off my list in June this year – walk the Spanish Camino in `the Galicia region of North-Western Spain. It sounds all very fabulous until the reality hits that you have to walk/hike an average of 20 kilometres a day for 6 days to complete the shortest official route of 120kms. Walking 5 kms a few times a week might be the norm, or even 10kms once in a while. To walk between 16-24 kms every day is the challenge when your body and feet do not have much time to recover. My insights and learning from this wonderful experience are the following:

  • Do the mental, physical and practical preparation for any challenge
  • Choose the right journey partner
  • Be present and flow with appreciation through unexpected experiences
  • Trust yourself and your body and listen to respond

Lesson 1: Do the mental, physical and practical preparation for any challenge

I am so glad that I started training 3 months before gradually building up the kilometres, even walking through the streets of Joburg i.e. Fourways to Saint Stithians to watch my guardian child’s rugby matches. In the process I also learnt to appreciate what many other South Africans go through in their daily walking commute to and from work when they cannot afford or have access to transport. Having the right shoes, socks, blister packs and foot rub also makes a huge difference. Learning some Spanish on a wonderful app called Duolingo came in very handy too.

Q: Are we spending enough time building readiness for our journeys, standing in our client’s shoes and building the right muscle to be of service?

Lesson 2: Choose the right journey partner

Jenny, my Camino partner was amazing. Not only did she plan the route, book all our accommodation and get all the information, Pilgrim Passports and packing lists we needed, she was an optimistic, enthusiastic, aware, conversationalist, coach and networker of note. It made the journey a joy and a gift in learning more about each other and digging into conversations on purpose, meaning, impact, life stories, happiness, business, strengths, relationships, travel, etc adding such richness to each day.

Q: Are we surrounding ourselves with the people that accept us for who we are, encourage us to grow and bring passion, curiosity, openness, courage and enthusiasm to relationships?

Lesson 3: Be present and flow with appreciation through unexpected experiences

For a change, I purposefully did not spend too much time finding out about the route, what we would see, the towns we would pass through or stay or where we would find coffee, water or lunch on the way. Once the basic logistics were in place, I let it flow and found the experience so much more interesting with surprises around every corner like an amazing little coffee shop in the middle of nowhere or a choir bursting into song in the middle of a meadow or an ancient roman bridge appearing across a river or an inviting old building or church or a free hugs and smoothies sign when you really needed one. This included not being in a rush to get to our destination but instead slowing down to chat to other pilgrims from around the world, stopping at inviting places or trying local food or wine/beer along the way. When I was present, I noticed how green the trees were, the smells in the air, the spaces between my breaths, the sound of workers in the fields or other pilgrims walking. When we are present, we automatically feel a sense of peace and appreciation for life and our ability to experience it with such intensity of feeling and sensation.

Q: How often are missing out on experiences because we are rushing and focused on the experience we want to have rather that appreciating the one right in front of us? 

Lesson 4: Trust yourself and your body and listen to respond

There were times when I was feeling really tired, the body and feet were aching and I was doubting whether I could make it without injury or tears. An old foot injury came back to plague me, particularly on the day when we had miscalculated the kilometres, expecting 20kms but ending walking 27.5kms. In these moments, I had to go within and have a conversation with myself and tune in to what was needed. Stopping was not an option (too proud!), so what else could I do? I turned to some meditation and breathwork techniques as I walked with the intent to let go anything I was carrying or resisting that might be manifesting as pain, fear or doubt. This turned out to be amazingly effective and over the period of the Camino I became more confident in my mind and body’s amazing ability to adjust, heal and strengthen itself. So not only have I returned uninjured, but my feet, hips and back seem stronger and more resilient than before.

Q: How often are we limiting ourselves from achieving growth and greatness, through limiting beliefs or programs about what is possible – either mentally or physically?

 

Learning with our clients:

Our other deep learning has been co-creating with, being challenged by and partnering alongside on a journey to achieve real tangible business results through our work. Some of the challenges our clients are facing are:

  • How to respond to the rapidly approaching (and already here) digital disruption impact when there are so many immediate operational and economic survival issues to address (with limited resources)
  • The painful side of collaboration in large multi-divisional organisations, where there are so many trade-offs to achieve a win-win outcome (see my blog on SABPP website: 8 Ps derailing collaboration)
  • The need to reinvent and redefine “talent” and how we identify and measure potential in a more holistic broad-based fashion. (see my article in HR Future Magazine)
  • The need to accelerate the shift in mindsets and behaviour to support a more agile, data driven, collaborative, self-driven learning culture to drive innovation, responsiveness and quick results
  • The need to rapidly build the capability of the Human Capital Function to drive people readiness for the future possibilities and reality

 

A huge shout out to our clients that have the courage to engage with us at such a meaningful level where we all connect and grow in the process.

 

Learning with our team:

Winter has allowed our associate community to come together in a whole new way too. Through generous win-win collaborations, we have been privileged to experience the Ennea 5 Lenses tool and team discovery day for our core team with Eric Albertini, the Cohesion Dialogue 1-day process with Paul Mooney from Cohesion, a strategy day with Ivor Clucas from True North Strategy AND had a number of Innovation Hub days where our associates share their ideas, insights and opportunities with each other. It often feels like there isn’t the time to invest in these things when we focus a lot of our attention on billable hours AND it is never a smooth ride when you unpack aspects of work and team dynamics. However, these deep dives in the spirit of learning and building our community and its members have added significant value through robust dialogue and collaborative learning.

 

One of these sessions made me reflect deeply on my purpose and impact as a leader and entrepreneur and how my own fears or doubts might be playing itself out in the team and business. How much was I personally willing to invest and risk to enable us to all be a true community of courageous Catalysts? Following an instinct, I entered into a transformational breathing exercise to reconnect with my/our purpose and what might be holding me/us back. What transpired was some amazing clarity on my/our purpose and way of being in the world. This led to a flurry of google searches and diagrams over the weekend ending in a symbol to represent our Catalyst Purpose and Way of Being for our community of intersecting circles held together by our core values and core team. It also led to a bold step of buying a home for the Catalyst community where we can spread our wings, innovate more, collaborate more and build a sustainable, relevant business into the future.  We hope to welcome you there soon!