Even as I start writing this blog I'm aware that I'm going to have to be extremely mindful in how I phrase things. If I'm not careful, it's going to sound like I just spent the best part of a week touring around a beautiful part of Asia, eating amazing food, seeing fantastic sights, and drinking ridiculously cheap beer with a talented, honest and generous group of leaders.
The problem is- all of that did actually happen.
Earlier in the year I was contacted by Drew Watson (Drew Watson International), former head of Leadership & Executive Development at Standard Chartered Bank, and associate fellow of Saïd Business School at Oxford University. Drew kindly invited me to join several other executives and leaders at his 10th celebration of ‘Talent Planet’. I’ve known Drew for many years, but having never had the privilege of watching him in facilitator mode, I enthusiastically accepted. Some time later I shared a call with Drew to see what I was in for. The concept? Conversational tourism: the belief that if you put a group of brilliant people in a brilliant location - through the processes of fast consulting, action learning, and just great-quality conversations, wisdom will be uncovered, with shared learning for all.
What interested me most was the format - no PowerPoint, no classroom. Just a series of locations (which ranged from coffee houses to restaurants, beach bars to foot massage parlours) during which we would all have the opportunity to contribute to, and be the focus of, peer coaching conversations designed to spark ideas and share experiences.
I left Vietnam with a head and notebook full of ideas, some of which I’m still reflecting on. There are too many gems and insights gleaned to possibly cover in one blog post, but I’d love to share a reflection which has stayed with me, which Drew offered-up early in the event. It is, in fact, a quote from the poet David Whyte:
For all of us who were lucky enough to spend that time together in Vietnam, we had each arrived in readiness to make a journey of sorts. Whether it was a career change, an examination of a personal/professional dilemma, or an exploration of new opportunities - we were able to consider not only how we might move forward on a new path, but what we may need to discard beforehand. Even if - like David Whyte's boots - those things to be discarded are the things that have served so well in bringing us to this point.
As we approach the end of one year and the start of another - are there any things that you need to leave behind, in order to move forward?