Drew Noiles, Volunteer Alberta Learning and Technology Coordinator, attended the Alberta Youth VOLUNTEER! Action Generation Residency in Banff in August, a leadership learning opportunity for young people.
We live in a world progressively captivated by what it means to truly lead. The leadership residency assembled about 25 of us for a unique, hands-on learning opportunity with the ultimate purpose of developing our individual and collective leadership skills, all while savoring a humbling dose of mountain culture.
Our residency took place at the breathtakingly beautiful Banff Centre. Alliteration aside, it began with a simple introduction, an ice-breaker, and a quote:
“One of the challenges of being a leader is mastering the shift from having others define your goals to being the architect of the organization’s purposes and objectives” (Mary Parker Follett, 1919)
Taped on the wall were group guidelines and reference points on how to get the most out of our leadership residency. One of these guiding messages stood out to me; in a dark blue sharpie it simply stated: Be Fit & Well.
It’s a statement that I have now come to understand to be synonymous with stepping outside of your fears, and allowing yourself to be open and in the moment. There is a very welcomed perspective change – an epiphany if you will – that takes place when everyone in a room begins from a place of equality and respect. This was a delightful transition to which our group was receptive and enthusiastic.
Over the course of the next three and a half days we were fed. We were fed well, and we were fed often. Looking back, having that amount of delectable treats available to you at all times really does enhance the entire experience. Keeping spirits high and eagerness abundant.
There were many topics discussed throughout our stay. Starting with collaboration and coaching, leading into goal setting, and understanding the importance of prototyping. The leadership residency provided us all the opportunity to not only identify challenges, but to address them in a safe space.
The lessons from the leadership residency that I am going to incorporate into my daily work:
- Listening is something you are accountable for; listening is a responsibility.
- Fail. We should be encouraged to fail, but to fail fast. Creativity comes from allowing yourself to make mistakes.
- The truth: great leaders are needed to shape a better world; and that type of leadership is rooted in the understanding of both wise practices and creative new approaches.
By the end I was left feeling very much a part of a community that inspires one another to take risks, to develop new ideas, and to find solutions for the present and future. Because in the end, that’s what learning is: understanding something you’ve understood before but in a new way.