My job is amazing: I get to support leaders in a transformational journey, to help them become better versions of themselves. I get to know them, connect with them, challenge them, listen to their struggles and their successes… Sometimes I am so lucky I even get to hug them! And ultimately, I get to see them grow – pretty much like watching a butterfly hatch from the chrysalis. Yes, they grow in front of my eyes, which is such a beautiful, deep and powerful experience. And I get to grow with them – the whole experience is so impactful that I get to grow while I watch them grow. How is that for a seriously cool job description?
My job title within GAIA Insights is Program Mentor, and it involves all of the above. But the name alone does not really give you the full dimension of what it entails. Even when people described it to me before I joined the company it sounded really cool, although nothing compared to what if felt to actually experience it.
Usually when we start a transformational journey with leaders, we have been preparing, meeting with several people within the organization, designing the journey carefully, making sure that all relevant development and business needs are met… All the while adding our secret ingredient to the mix which makes the “magic” happen – loads of care for these leaders. We care about them even before we have met them. And we care so much that we want to make the journey memorable from day one, so we spend a considerable amount of time ideating, preparing and setting everything up for success.
The ASPIRE transformational journey usually touches on three themes: Leading self, leading others and leading the organization. The different elements of the journey – webinars, expert content, assignments, challenges, social projects, live or online immersions, shared virtual spaces, self-reflections, games, individual coaching and much more – are woven together to create lasting impact. It is not one specific program element that does the trick, it is the combination of them all, over time. Don’t take my word for it, just look at what our participants say during and after their experience.
When day one finally arrives, we are all excited, sparkling with joy to finally meet the participants and start a journey together. Usually, leaders come from many different places around the globe, are at different stages in their careers and lives, are going through different challenges in their workplaces, and of course have their own unique personalities. During the first steps of the journey, we see some people diving in quickly, opening up, ‘trusting the process’ (which happens to be our mantra), while others need to test the waters first, dip their toe in, watch with caution. It can take a few webinars, assignments and feedback for them to start understanding what they signed up for and what the journey is really about. We make sure to create a safe space for them to share openly, and we protect that safe space throughout the whole journey.
At some point, all participants need to make a decision – some make it sooner, others later – which is: “Will I give myself in to this experience wholeheartedly? Will I trust it and embrace it fully?” For some it is one specific moment when they decide to dive in, for others it is a slower process, like gradually shedding layers.
What I can say for all the journeys I have been part of, is that by the end their eyes sparkle, they glow, they are calmer, more confident, beaming with gratitude. Aside from having made new friends for life, they have come to understand that to be great leaders the secret is to ‘lead from within’. They have found out what this personally means for each of them, they have connected with their essence, with their true selves. They don’t need to emulate others, they have a better understanding of what makes them unique and how to walk in their own shoes more confidently. They have also been able to see the impact they can have on others while they embrace leading from within, and they have received a pack full of knowledge, tools and insights to help them navigate what the future brings for them.
If I had to choose the highlights of my career as a Mentor, they would be when I am connecting with ‘my’ beloved leaders: The moments when I read the insights they discover through their assignments, when we have our 1:1 meetings throughout the program, when I deliver a webinar and facilitate sessions during our live or online immersions. Every time I get a glimpse into their world is a cherished moment for me.
Personally, I cannot get enough of such moments – I would love to have more time with each and every participant, and be able to keep holding that safe space of sharing and learning for them. But ‘trusting the process’ is also what us Mentors need to do: At some point we need to let go, usher them back into their worlds and trust that everything we did will continue to be alive in them, and support them in their future endeavors.
If you would like to learn more about how GAIA Insights can help your organization transform your leaders, check out https://gaia-insights.com/aspire/ and contact us.
Authored by Valeria Torino, Program Mentor at GAIA Insights