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Class of 2015 Alumni Retreat Reflection

Written by Lisa Paraku, Head of Solution Aggregation, Spark Digital

There’s something special about Waiheke Island, I don’t know if it’s the mammoth logistical challenge to get there from afar – car, plane, car/bus/train, ferry, taxi – but when you do get there, it seems to insist you… Exhale. Even if it is 1am.

Coming back to my Leadership NZ whanau, I instantly feel a sense of love and belonging. These are my peeps and I have missed them! Everyone, it seems, would come with questions, many wouldn’t know they had them: a move of house, job, country or partner, a change of perspective or view. We are seeking something special from this time together and we would not be disappointed. 

What are we here for? Is the first question. Reconnection, learning, expansion, recharge, a little healing perhaps? Regardless of what is stated, we agree, at the conclusion, that we are nourished and at peace, ready again for the journey of life.

What mask are we wearing and why? Is explored. We are challenged to lay down the mask. We work through… ‘what part of ourselves we listen to’? We explore our current culture of ‘better, faster, quicker, more’ and extend our minds to a personal space of grace, wisdom and ultimately love.

We are re-presented with the infinity sign and explore the concepts of ‘doing and being’ challenging ourselves in this model. We complete a mind-map and move into a heart-map, all the while, building to the ultimate challenge for ourselves. 

We reconnect with our whenua using a ‘Circles in the Sand’ exercise and are surprised by what comes to the surface when we reach deeper. Onetangi beach is glorious and the perfect host. 

We share our ‘Pecha Kucha’ arguing about its pronunciation. It reminds me of Machu Picchu and Rosco P Coltrane from the Dukes of Hazard. I have no idea why and I have a giggle. I note a few insights to think on later – the concept of ‘Ripening’, how to get my lips to the ‘No’ position and where I sit, is what I see – Stephen, Astrid and Claire have bought these insights and there are many more shared and received. The exercise shows me the power of the human spirit and reminds me how lucky I am, to belong to these people.

There are tears and there is joy, as we discard what doesn’t serve us and reflect on what does. There is a determined glint in the eyes of many around the room. 

We conclude with a challenge from our Rangatira Louise and Kai-awhina Annette. Louise is naming our enemy and our ultimate challenge – “the enemy of all of this world is perfection. Your challenge is to be authentically you, perfectly you”. We speak of narcissism in the positive and the negative. The guidance is to ‘fall deeply in love with self’ that is the state that we are of most value and service to others. Oh, and we are banned from using the words ‘selfish and indulgent’ to describe our journey.

I like this challenge, I shall do my very best to love and be… me. 

We missed those who weren't able to make it, we'll see you all soon. Kotahi Aroha from me. x