One of the things that appealed to me most about the organisation I went to Kenya with is that they have a strong focus on sharing your experience upon return.
They recognise that while yes you’re doing some good whilst being in country, a lot of the effect happens after the trip. When volunteers return and spread the word about the experience. The stories we tell about the communities we met and the inspiration we take back with us to lead more in our lives, to make a real difference, however that looks to us.
One of the ways they do this is to provide every single volunteer with a leadership development programme upon return (so smart!).
You get to attend a three day weekend filled with other volunteers who have been to all sorts of countries from Nepal to Cambodia to Kenya. You’re all there to work on yourself. To get clear on your values, what matters most to you in life and how you want to live and lead your life with intention.
Completely my cup of tea!
So four months after returning from Kenya I jumped on a plane to Adelaide for this weekend – it was called Personal Empowerment Programme. Or, PEP for short.
At this stage I was at this turning point in my career, I had almost wrapped up my masters, knew I wanted a change of jobs, and thought that this weekend would be a great way to get some clarity over what my next move should be.
It was led by some incredibly inspiring people – many of which were coaches or incorporating coaching into their work somehow. And all had experienced the volunteering programme themselves at some point.
It was instant family. Everyone attending was there to bring some light to something in their life. Wanting to lead more, figure out a decision, work through a transition point.
And, many of the coaches were offering up the opportunity to have a one-to-one session with them throughout the weekend. Completely free.
Now, you don’t have to tell me twice to get in on any kind of free personal development. I’ve always been the kid up the front of class and the one volunteering to run off to the training course at my day job.
But for some reason I hesitated. I didn’t want people to think I was “too eager” or even that I “needed help”. But mostly I think I just didn’t want to stand out. I was there to connect but also to allow others to shine.
Day two rolled around and the sign up sheets for all six coaches remained completely blank!
When the organisers mentioned again we’d be welcome to sign up for a session I took it as a sign to forget about my self consciousness and just go for it.
And go for it I did!
Not only did I sign up for a free session, I signed up with all six coaches! Why not?! I figured they all were unique in their backgrounds and I kinda had a few specific questions up my sleeve for each. Still, at the time all around my career and what to do next.
I walked away from every single session with this feeling of relief. Or clarity. Of momentum. Each conversation was completely different.
What I took away from the PEP weekend was a seed of possibility.
I realised and saw in action this “coaching thing”. I experienced first hand what it was all about and saw how all six coaches were not just “doing it” it was what they did. Like full time. Not just a fun after work activity.
For the first time the seed was planted that hey I could do this thing too. And even more than that, “this thing” I realised was what I found immensely joyful.
Despite the tears and revelations of the weekend – being surrounded by like-minded people, feeling supported and learning, stretching and growing myself was one of the most joyful experiences of my life. And I realised that quite often my happy place had always been here.