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Dare Greatly

Written by Nicola Keen-Biggelaar, General Manager, Helensville District Health Trust

Who we are is how we lead” – Brené Brown, Dare to Lead

It was with enormous excitement and anticipation that I found myself on a glorious Auckland day walking into the first day of Retreat One of The NZ Leadership Programme - what I now know is going to be a truly transformative year.

Unbelievably, it has taken me more than five years to align everything I needed to in order that I could participate fully.  Five years!  Four children later, a few recent mid-life career crises and well in to a burning fascination with all things leadership – I know the time is right.

There were a lot of nervous people – eager but not quite sure what they are getting themselves in to.  I cannot relate – I am excited – I then worry that I can’t relate and my mind starts going flat-out to itself about perhaps I should have thought more about what was ahead and been more prepared.  Then I remember - five years – no, I am prepared – and I am ready!

What a beautiful ride the first weekend was combining getting to know plenty of extraordinary, like-minded people, celebrating the launch of the Programme, exploring the edges of our full selves and being inspired (and challenged) by generous, accomplished leaders who opened up to let us in to their worlds.

After a deeply moving Mihi Whakatau, we hit the ground running and I received another affirmation that this year was perfect and my time when it was revealed that this was the year of Daring Leadership.  I have been avidly reading Brené Brown of late and think this really is the cherry on top!  I think more deeply about this theme and my hope that it will give me a way to really own my vulnerability and courage and lead from that place whilst allowing others around me to do the same.  I am interested to see how this evolves and changes over the next ten-months!   

Having participated in a few group-oriented things over time, I was really taken aback by how quickly trust and safety was created between 36 people who had just met.  I am still in awe of this and know we are in safe hands for our journey this year with Leadership New Zealand.

I was also struck by the wonderful mix of theory, thought-provoking items (that I am still marinating on), tips and techniques to implement straight away, and a reconnection with my whole self.  It is the latter that I know is where I will harvest the gold this year.  The time is right to reconnect, recharge, reposition, reflect and let go of the many things I think about and do to myself that no longer serve me or my leadership journey.  This really is my year, for me.  And from this internal focus will come an external focus where I can powerfully be myself, for others and for my community without neglecting my own needs.

It is virtually impossible to capture everything that happened but the two things that moved me and haven’t left me was one speaker’s deep connection to a touchstone – a grounding place, a place that will sustain you.  I too have one and find myself too busy to go and reconnect.  That has changed.  The second moving moment was the realisation of how different our country could be when we do reach an alumni network of 1,000.  Why does this have to take so long? I feel compelled to do something to inspire more leaders to take this time for themselves in order that we can have more leaders being their full selves and creating a wave of positive impact.  Here’s to pulling this year towards ourselves – to stretch, grow and really know what it is to ‘Dare Greatly’ in our call to leadership. 

Did Nicola’s story resonate with you? This is one of many purposeful and profound experiences on The NZ Leadership Programme.  Are you a mid-career or senior executive leader in New Zealand seeking your next career challenge? Then we invite you to apply for our 2020 Programme - we’re accepting applications now!