Seneca Leadership Day 2018: An Experience of a Lifetime

There comes a time in one’s student life where, as it gets further into the end of the race – which is graduation, a student questions oneself if they had experiences worthwhile during the time of their stay in college or university. These were the questions in my mind after I woke up this morning, Thursday January 11th of 2018. I woke up feeling grateful to God that I slept soundly and that I have another life to live this day, then I realized that I have this event to go today which I have to make a decision if I have to go or not. You see, it was my break from school for one week and I tried to rationalize that I don’t need to go to school because I was there earlier this week too, and I was feeling kind of lazy. But then I remembered that I haven’t really done much in school for the longest time and that this might seem interesting to go to. Interesting was an understatement. If I hadn’t come to this event, I might have missed the chance to learn a lot about things that are relevant and will be relevant to me and the world around me in the future. Hence, the question “Was my experience in Seneca worthwhile after all this time?” entered my mind.

So I went to the event, the Winter 2018 Leadership Institute Conference, with nothing but my confidence and faith. One reason I was hesitant to go is because I have to mingle with other people during workshops and I don’t want to do that because I am an introvert and this is not normally what I do. But I have to do it, because I need to practice for my future job later on which is in Human Resources. I went there and I was late by 30 minutes. I thought that I can maybe at least catch up with the speaker to deliver his keynote speech for the conference. When I came there, I was greeted with a smile by one of the registration volunteers and I concluded that “Hey, this might be a great day after all.”  After I did my registration, I was advised to take a post-it-note from a wall of quotes that I liked best and this was the note that I took: “Every experience in my life helps me to grow.” I thought this resonated with me because of my past struggles in life that turned into lessons. Little did I know this very experience, the Leadership Conference, will probably be one of those experiences that will shape me in the future.

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I seated with a few unfamiliar faces, they were four. They looked friendly so I sat beside them. I was in the middle of the conference director’s speech and I really didn’t get anything what he said because he was near to finishing and was about to introduce the keynote speaker which is Hamza Khan. Lucky that I was able to arrive before the keynote speech though, thank God. When Hamza was introduced, I got my pen and paper ready ( I was excited to use them because they were merch from the Seneca Leadership Institute so they were new):

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Hamza started with his background. I wouldn’t get into details one by one but what stood out to me the most is how he told us that when he was a student, on his last year he decided to recalibrate his career and made up from lost time he had when he was trying to finish his last term in university because he found his true purpose – and that is to innovate. He discussed to us that Success requires Growth, Growth Requires Creativity, and that Creativity requires Innovation. He also introduced to us his book: The Burnout Gamble which has the CASTLE factors:

(C)OMPETITION – We’re facing insurmountable competition brought about by a growing population and an economy in decline.

(A)LIENTATION – We’re growing increasingly disconnected from the end result of our work, as well as from the intended purposes of capital.

(S)OCIETY – We’re lionizing titans of industry and glorifying busyness.

(T)ECHNOLOGY – We’re dependent on technology which is compromising our attention, as well as paralyzing us by conflating urgency with importance.

(L)ONELINESS – We’re lonely, and lack the social support needed to cope with stress.

(E)CONOMICS – We’re at the mercy of an economic system that is producing less jobs that can meet our needs, yet cranking out more graduates.

Alongside the CASTLE Factors are the PEPSI Myths:

(P)ROGRESS – The idea that you’re not advanced enough.

(E)FFICIENCY – The idea that you’re not productive enough.

(P)ERFECTION – The idea that you’re not beautiful enough.

(S)ATISFACTION – The idea that you’re not content enough.

(I)NNOVATION – The idea that you’re not novel enough.

(Khan, Hamza. The Burnout Gamble: Achieve More by Beating Burnout and Building Resilience p. 108-109. Tellwell Talent. Kindle Edition.)

The CASTLE factors + PEPSI myths = Performance Pressure which created the burnouts. And burnouts must be avoided because it is unhealthy because stress is the number one problem in society today.

I learned a lot from the speaker. One of which as well is how Artificial Intelligence may one day take over our lives and that we may not be at par with the competition in the future. But we can counter it by always trying to innovate and be creative. Growth requires innovation.

He also discussed the 6 strategies to enhance your creative capacity. It’s defined below but but I guess it’s much better if you read his book instead of me giving the ideas and inspiration all away. So I will put this link here for the online version from Amazon and you can buy it from there and read it. 🙂

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There are many quotes that I have taken away from his speech, one that resonated with me is “Start investing now – Do things today that your future self will thank you for.” Which is ironic because at the start of this day I didn’t want to go to this event because I was lazy, but because in the end I decided to go, I learned a lot of wisdom from the speaker. I’m grateful to God he let my thoughts be in tuned today.

After the speech, we had lunch. And then we did the marshmallow challenge with our groups prior to going to the actual leadership workshops. I don’t want to spoil what the Marshmallow Challenge is so I’ll leave it at that. But when my group and I did the marshmallow challenge, we did well but the leadership was missing. All of us where followers and in the end we were the last group to finish and as well as the least points. I learned a lot from the challenge though, that in an opportunity where you can be a leader, be one. After the marshmallow challenge we went to our respective workshops. The workshop that I chose was Leadership from the Inside out. The first activity that we did was to highlight our values then out of all the values that was given to us, we should only choose three that are very important to us as a leader. I chose Camaraderie, Creativity and Emotional-Well Being. The we had to define our ideal leader, mine was Steve Jobs. I answered the question, “Why are they an ideal leader?” with these words: innovative, creative, influential, efficient, effective, self-aware, simple, smart/ intelligent, charismatic, unique, successful and a risk-taker. Then we did an exercise where we list down 10 qualities we think a great leader should posses, internal and external. After that we formed a group and discussed them amongst ourselves. I was surprised this time I didn’t step up and I felt like I was inferior amongst them. I need to stop that – losing my confidence when I am in a group. Anyway, after we discussed it amongst ourselves, we tried to help each other out on how to improve our areas of weakness. Overall, it was a fun experience. At the last exercise, we wrote down our plan of action on how we will address to develop our leadership skills. I wrote down: Invest in personal development, Practice. Practice. Practice., and Improve Self-awareness/ Empathy/ Emotional Intelligence. Before we closed the workshop, the instructor gave us this quote to live by:

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And that was the whole Seneca Leadership Day experience. I probably will not forget what I learned this day because it opened my mind to a whole lot of opportunities to grow and a lot of possibilities to improve. Thank the Good Lord for this day and for Seneca.

 

‘Til my next blog,

Toodles!

 

 

xoxo,

Rikki

 

 

 

 

 

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