The image above is of a classic African sunset taken whilst on my recent travels with the GAIA Insights team. I was lucky enough to spend two weeks working in the wonderful area of Morogoro, Tanzania with groups of inspirational Social Entrepreneurs and Senior Leaders, who are currently part of our 12-month leadership journey. The culture, beautiful scenery and more importantly the people I met on my travels had a profound effect on my behaviours and current practice.
How….do you ask?
During the 2 x 1-week ‘Immersions’, the senior leaders we work with were asked to support and mentor the social entrepreneurs of the local areas of Morogoro and the capital Dar Es Salaam. The focus being on developing and building a sustainable business to help improve the Sanitation, Hygiene, Nutritional and Family Planning habits of the Tanzanian communities. I soon discovered the entrepreneurs were truly inspirational people, all with the common purpose of supporting and developing their wider community, with the greater goal of creating a better Tanzania for all. This clear vision and desire to make a difference was so infectious and enlightening for us all on the programme. Despite the hardships they face on a daily basis, everybody I met always carry on with a smile and with the kindest of hearts.
The senior leaders were not only asked to support and mentor the entrepreneurs in developing their business, but to also focus on their own leadership practice and behavioural traits. I observed many examples of their own practice being tested to the limit – by the heat, by operating in a new environment, by lack of finance and basic resources to develop the business, change of diet and the odd creepy crawly that all kept us on our toes…..quite literally. The ‘practice’ of exploring your own shadow was also a theme for the week, to be open and vulnerable, be honest with yourself and recognise what is needed to make positive change was explored in great detail.
We also had the opportunity to work alongside our fantastic partners at Raleigh International, they are doing an amazing job in providing an opportunity for the social entrepreneurs to develop their businesses and build a greater Tanzania.
The personal impact I experienced was quite dramatic, this was the first time I had visited this part of Africa and was taken aback by the generosity and appreciation that was shown to us by everyone we met along the way. As a result, I’ve had a long look in the mirror and reflected on the important things in my life, my purpose and as a result have begun to look a lot deeper into my own ‘shadow’, for which I’m very grateful.
Thank you Tanzania for providing me the opportunity to experience such a beautiful country, surrounded by inspirational people and for being part of such a special leadership program at GAIA Insights…..YOU ALL ROCK!
It’s fair to say this experience has had a major impact on me but how often do we take the time to “reflect, admire and appreciate” our own value and the contribution we bring to others?
I encourage you all to give yourself time to pause and reflect on a daily basis, the skill of mindfulness practice is to remain present and be self-aware, and asking yourself the right questions and reflecting on them is only the start…..good luck!
Authored by Paul Elias, Leadership Survival Trainer at GAIA Insights
If you are curious to learn more about GAIA Insights, read about the world we’re dreaming of at www.gaia-insights.com/why