Thursday, July 16, 2009

Taking Leadership to New Heights

Every year, participants in CRC’s year long Colorado Nonprofit Leadership and Management Program are given the opportunity to take advantage of the Professional Leadership Course offered by the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center. After returning from this year’s 4-day transformational experience, CRC’s leader, Kathy Bacon, Director of Dress For Success, gave the following account:

“So we are all supposed to go away for 4 whole days in the mountains for CRC’s Leadership and Management Program??? I have done these before – what could possibly be different this time? OK, I am going to fall – everyone just catch me. Been there done that. I looked at my workload and knew that it was going to be hard to walk away from all those loose ends. I also knew I made a promise to myself to see this commitment through and to explore the unknown personally and professionally. The work would be there no matter if I were staying or leaving. I also felt that I needed to form some closer professional ties with the other nonprofit leaders in the program so we could really share our experiences. I had no idea of the profound impact this experience would have on me!

What brought us together into CRC’s Leadership Program anyway? It seemed to be the passion of giving back to our communities unconditionally; the joy and the love that we have for others less fortunate than ourselves. Our journey led us to the organization we go to everyday and now we were stepping it up a notch to conquer what was in store at the BOEC. I was the first one there amazingly enough. That led me to a queen sized bed though- Yes! As everyone gradually arrived there was a growing excitement of seeing each other again. The hugs… the laughter… like we had been here before and we knew one another other well. The bond had begun.

Our days were filled with experiential teambuilding and problem solving activities, leadership initiatives, and fantastic food! We all pitched in to create a space to learn, to talk and to eat. We had thought-provoking sessions and exercises that forced us to reach out of our comfort zones. I never thought in a million years I would grow so much let alone learn everyone’s name.

When I heard we would be going to climb a rock face, I was scared. I had FEAR because I am afraid of heights. I watched as brave leaders started up the face of that rock. Everyone was so supportive toward each other. It made my heart stronger and I knew I had to at least try! I put on the rope and the helmet and hugged and kissed the rock at every step I took. I didn’t want to look down or back – only up and forward. In my mind I thought of all the things that had been so hard that I had overcome in my past. That climb, as crazy as it may sound, changed my being and it was as if everything that had seemed difficult before was only a faint memory. I could hear the voices below chanting my name and when I looked over I saw another leader coming down at the same time. We had done an exercise together the previous day. There was a connection. Tears came out of nowhere and I knew that I could accomplish anything I put my mind to doing. I could take success to a whole new level when I had a team to support me! That is what being a good leader is about. At that moment I knew why I was at the retreat.

I sat down at my desk at Dress for Success Denver upon my return and thought about those 4 days that I tried to make excuses about how I really didn’t need to go. My leader friends have made me a stronger leader just by knowing them. We now keep in touch on a regular basis by e-mail. I thought it would be important to all of us if we could think back to those days at the CRC retreat for one brief moment and know we have support! I am grateful that I fell and there was someone there to catch me. This was worth so much more than I could have imagined. After those 4 days I felt confident that in fact, I am an influential leader!”

CRC is accepting applications for the 2010 Colorado Nonprofit Leadership and Management Program. Please look on line or call Carol Crawford for more information.

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