Foundations of Leadership
My NSP Journey
Trying to keep up with promises is very hard in the NSP. One minute you heaving of relief for having completed a series of essays and the next minute you hear notifications from outlook indicating another series of deadlines.
Some weeks ago I wrote about how I was going to start journaling my experiences during the NSP program but that has proven to be quite difficult especially because we always have one deadline or the other but I am going to try to keep my promise because like I said no one can tell my story better than me.
So, Let’s talk about Foundations of Leadership
I think that starting the residential program at the NSP with the foundation of leadership course was one of the best decisions the team made. This is because the Foundation of Leadership (FoL)course has at its core the concept that you cannot lead others until you have led yourself.
The course required that I do a lot of introspective thinking and writing. FoL took me on a journey of understanding my past i.e. why I made certain choices and what influenced my decisions, values, and character strengths.
The instructor for the course was Dwight Jaggard and he was very kind and soft-spoken and yet he had so much strength in his voice. This was my first exposure to experiential learning. It wasn’t about just chugging down words from someone with seemingly more experience, but connecting our learnings to our realities.
First, we took out some time to write about our initial vision which highlighted our motivation and reasons for our past decisions. It required a certain level of vulnerability that I have always avoided. It unearthed wounds, hurts, pains, memories, family background, experiences, and even healings for a lot of people. A couple of people cried I didn’t (cos I am a hard girl, lol). People found some form of healing by sharing their past in those small groups and this helped some of us form even deeper bonds.
Soon after, we had to analyze our core values and character strengths after taking series of tests (I will take about the tests later) and reading Seligman's Flourish. The main focus of my essay was that Human Agency- the ability to choose, is the determinant of well-being, Meaning, or Authentic Happiness.
I think my favorite part of the writings, was my final vision because it put together everything I had been learning as I envision the life that I want in the next 15 years.
To understand our values, character strengths, and personality types we had to do a lot of tests like the MBTI, the Clifton strengths test, and the VIA character test. Now, I know that people take personality tests all the time, and most times they zero in on these test results as an explanation for their behavior but for me, it was different.
The results made certain things clearer to me. For the first time, I clearly understood my values and why I had those values. I finally understood my default reactions and responses to the situation and why. The Clifton’s test told me more about my approach to working with people and my preferred method of communication.
The tests, opened me up to a deeper level of self-awareness so that my future decisions are more aligned with my core values and innate strengths. It wasn’t just information gathering as usual because I gained a better perspective into who I am now and the kind of leader I want to be.
The Readings and A Movie
During the course, we went on to do some readings to gain perspective regarding our purpose on the earth. I had never heard of Victor Frankl or his book Man’s Search for meaning before the course. I also read some chapters of Seligman's Flourish- A new visionary understanding of happiness and Well-being.
The book “Flourish” tries to explain the reason for human existence. Seligman, the author, through research and studies, has shown that to be Wellbeing. Wellbeing is a composition of five elements: Positive Emotions, Engagement, Positive Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment- PERMA.
However, Man’s Search for Meaning takes the opposite approach to explain the question of human existence. Frankl- the author, in this case, looks at meaning from the viewpoint of a man who has nothing to lose i.e., what keeps a man going when he has nothing. In his opinion, finding meaning is the bane of human existence.
In one of my essays (which I should probably publish), I supported Frankl’s perspective on the question of human existence because he had a more realistic approach.
In conclusion, I think the whole point of this course was to bring us to a certain level of self-awareness so that we understood the rationale for our view on life. It was the perfect foundation for every other course that we were going to encounter as we moved forward in our journey at the NSP.