The power of experience

I wonder how many of you, like me, have wondered how best to use one’s experience, skills and knowledge in the world? This can happen at any stage in life but for me it was particularly an issue upon ‘retirement’ from the full responsibilities of a CEO role and the demands involved – into what? 4 years on I am still responsible and busy in the voluntary sector enjoying the variety, which uses many of my skills but I still yearn for the personal leadership development element that I had before. So I am in some ways still in transition and looking for ways to bridge the gap. I ended my career with a huge sense achievement coupled with loss and grief for the real sense that what I did made a difference and mattered in the world. The context was challenging with the cut and thrust of functioning in a highly politicized environment, which called on all my courage and leadership skills, so the contrast in losing this was immense.

I recently went to a Third Act weekend workshop, which offered an opportunity to engage with people at a meaningful level, and to learn more about personal transitioning. Stories were used to illustrate and debate. The “Third person framing” highlighted important issues that were very applicable to us: for example, how often we don’t see what’s in front of us for being too busy looking; the importance of letting go and being open; and that we gain so much from sharing. Theory was interwoven to increase our understanding and to ground our thinking.

A real sense of community emerged over the weekend as we learnt to listen to each other better. We had a fascinating discussion about gender when people opened up to each other and different perspectives emerged. There was a growing respect towards each other’s ideas over the time, and this illustrated the “Second Person Context,” deep listening to the perspectives of others.

The final level we explored was the “First Person” perspective which provided opportunities to apply much of what happened to our own lives and contexts and I moved on with my thinking as a result. I feel I have “woken up” to opening myself to further development. I’m no longer feeling I am marking time until my end. I look forward to having further opportunities to deeply share and give and receive feedback from others. I recognise the powerful experience we have all gained over the years, and that leadership is taking personal responsibility for using this to best effect in the world.

I realise that I can fill my time easily but by reclaiming that power of my experience and skills and continuing to develop my own personal leadership I can still contribute to what matters in the world and make a difference – I believe now that it is possible! One of the events I am engaging in is a two day exploration about Toward Maturing Leadership in Liverpool in mid October.

Author: Diana Fulbrook, you can reach Diana at diana@fulbrook.co.uk