Since leaving our first retreat of The Mana Moana Experience at Waitakere Estate, I have been in a reflective mood. I love being reflective! It’s a process of examining my own learning. I know this has to be a good sign when I feel excited about engaging in reflection. Reflections like this equate to an internal transformation.
Trust me, I have been to a lot of programmes and workshops aimed at my “ahem” leadership and professional development. But after attending these events, I rarely get into a reflective mood. Or if I do, it is a short-lived moment. My first Mana Moana Experience is the opposite to what I have just described. I have already gained so much enrichment, as an individual. Actually – much more than expected! From day one I was moved to a space of cognitive, physical and spiritual connections with my fellow peers and with my tupuna/ancestors. It was a meaningful process of getting into who we are. We were remembering who we were, and who we had become.
There was the attention to my “being”. There are no words to describe this connection between self and the bigger picture of leadership development. Rather, it’s about the feeling of a deep connection.
Already, I am looking at myself with presence. I have been captured by the insightful moments of engagement. I have already cried so much and I know this is a just such an edifying process. Being an emotional person, Mana Moana has already facilitated my heart. My heart is present. What leadership development programme can achieve this? Not many! Mana Moana is special and it prioritises Pacific values, but within a deeper vessel of placement. I am reflecting on the special groupings we have as well – our Manava groups – which gives us friendship, mentoring and a special space to really appreciate our peers. Our time together allows us to support and encourage one another in a fanau/family approach. I do not feel alone. I feel connected to my peers.
My learnings so far are immense. I feel so fortunate to be part of the Mana Moana movement. The learning has stemmed from our involved and colourful discussions together as participants. The beauty of inspiration is in our talanoa about our histories and our identities as Pacific peoples. Our invited speakers provoke us to look deep inside our hearts. They have taught us to look outside of ourselves. This is the start of our journey of reframing leadership. Leaders as healers! This is real and genuine. It feels so good. It is so authentic. I have learnt that we all have a back story that is so private and sometimes public. When my peers started to share about themselves – my heart was heavy and happy! This is such a deepening of spirit. We have shared tears, laughter and hugs. We have been digging for that deep essence of our leadership being. I am already looking forward to our next retreat.
I am in a reflective mode, riding on that wave of connection and inspiration. I am happy. This is what I have been looking for.
Written by Dr. Cherie Chu is Founder & Mentor at Leadership Pacific. Her participation in The Mana Moana Experience 2019 is enabled by a scholarship from J R McKenzie Trust.