Thoughts & Reflections on My EMC at INSEAD
‘The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.’ - Carl-Gustav Jung
When I was admitted to the EMC programme in Wave 22 of June 2016, I had no idea that nothing was to become more real than the above quote by CG Jung.
I took my personal encounter with Manfred Kets de Vries as a sign of synchronicity signifying that I had to continue with my journey. His words resonated in my mind: "Know thyself", "Manage your envy", "Practice forgiveness", "Strive to become better" and "Strike when the iron is cold".
I had been admitted to a programme that aimed to clinically train executives to become more effective in:
- guiding change processes
- managing relationships at an individual, team and organisational level
- fulfilling the role of internal consultant or coach
- communicating both externally and internally
- building executive development programmes
- bringing coaching techniques into management
- addressing career development issues
- understanding the role of learning in corporate sustainability and change
My cohort consisted of 36 people from 18 nations with an average age of 43 years, 50% women and 50% men.
I sensed that every single one of them had their own story, their motivation to be there just at this precise moment in time.
In a way, I felt that we had all come together in search of finding something else in life, questioning it and ourselves. This common ground triggered a profound awareness.
I wanted to learn and grow in an international environment with different cultures and with a clinical and academic approach – yet being made aware that, apart from the cognitive left part of the brain, there is the right part which I wanted to awaken even further.
It filled me with intention and attention.
My aspiration and the energy within me drew my inner self to learn, be open, grow and be creative. I recognised that this is the place where I wanted to be – engaged, studying, listening, hearing, speaking, participating and also be silent. Taking it all in like a sponge and finding my way along with people who also took this journey and would probably be there for the rest of my life. It felt a bit like ‘Alice in Wonderland’.
I was made aware that I was going to be in a transitional stage where I would still have access to my past identity, able to define/redefine/redesign and reshape my potential identity/role.
It was made clear that this is a process and this process was all about me.
My protective inner team member mentioned being patient and kind to myself. Listening more profoundly to my inner voices and the other team members (the 'theatre'), journaling what they tell me, how it would make me feel and to go deeper, into the shadow side, to get grounded to who I am. Journaling, meditating, brainstorming, bearing the silence in the classroom and association being a big part of the success.
I worked my way, gradually, toward figuring out those answers relying on questions each step of the way. Trusting myself and the process which was triggered in the seven modules (actually eight modules as our wave had decided to do the eighth module to prepare for the thesis together) to come, learning more and more as we went along.
We all have to construct meaning in our lives based on everyday choices– and every one of those choices is a question.
It is all about my life, my joy and happiness, my wellbeing, the love for myself to fully unfold in me so that it becomes contagious in others. It is an arduous process and it does require discipline and drive, commitment and passion.
However, every step, every insight, every encounter with myself and its shadow side, every synchronicity, is worth the experience as it truly helped me to transform my life and be grateful for and blessed with what I have.
We all are human 'beings', not 'human doings'. Modern spirituality is centred on the "deepest values and meanings by which people live". It embraces the idea of an ultimate or an alleged, immaterial reality. It envisions an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of their being. However, I have a strong belief in a higher force, something beyond our control, and I appreciate the teachings of CG Jung.
We live in an imperfect, 'fake news' and highly complex world.
The current shutdown situation with the Coronavirus underlines it. We seek to cocoon back into our safe spaces, whatever this may be for us. We all, every single person out there, see a part of the world. Everyone has a different perception of reality and then again it is opposed to the actual reality.
What may be necessary for A is not perceived necessary for B and on top A may not even have noticed it, whereas B has a different spectrum. We are lazy, so often we base our conclusions on the confirmation and experience of what we have seen already and fall into the confirmatory bias. The latter puts us at ease as it confirms our already existing beliefs and somehow it keeps us in the comfort zone without any significant disruption.
What about our self-control and the area of developmental psychology which looks at willpower as an exhaustible resource?
When I reflected on my life achievements, I realised that my success in my career was driven by my solid willpower in conjunction with a high mental and physical energy level and a highly optimistic approach linked to an inner self.
In the first six months after the birth of my twins, I remember well that continuous sleep deprivation had a highly challenging effect on my behaviour.
Falling into an instinctive, automatic mode from a body and mind perspective where reflection was not necessary and primarily primed to be alert for certain noises. We all get equipped with a toolbox and each one of us picks the tools which align most with our personality, and by learning how to apply them appropriately they become powerful tools. My favourite is everything around CG Jung.
In my coaching and consulting business I have ever since included an ‘Observation Day’ with a potential new business organisation or client. The value of observation is tremendous for the organisation or the leader or the team. It helps to gather further insights, perspectives, see what is not seen, question and drive associations which trigger different questions again and dig below the surface. The tailor-made 'Observation Report' provides valuable reflections for my client and myself making an individuation process possible.
Digesting what has been taught, reflecting on the different perspectives and providing an integrated overview of the learned, revised and maybe even applied behaviour, thus change.
Ever since my graduation in 2018, I have grown my coaching business and limited my consulting business.
The EMC made me realise that I indeed did not want to be in a leadership position anymore. I am who I am, the human being, focused on my individuation with people who choose to work with me, totally freed from the fact that I need to chase after recognition, fame and glory, money and external rewards.
I am, and this is enough.
"I am, and this is enough". Amazingly, this 'default' behaviour seems to be impacting my surrounding. People request personal or professional coaching sessions on an international scale. Somehow, it has started to happen wherever I go on business in my other role as a consultant.
When there is a time constraint or too much travel involved, it is overcome by doing the sessions virtually on my CAI Platform. I can see now from what I have learned that I am relying strongly on my instincts and intuition reading the symbols and being drawn to the mythology of it.
I am conscious of it and thus being able to calm down my intuitive mental shotgun, too difficult questions and thus activating my System 2 (the conscious, reasoning self that has beliefs, makes choices and decides what to think about and what to do. "Thinking Fast and Slow", Daniel Kahnemann).
My lenses change in that they have different shades, colours, perspectives and emotional awareness. I am grateful for the learnings and development of my psychodynamic approach which allows me to carry out different situations with people with fresh lenses and perspectives, carrying my findings into my coaching sessions and even consulting.
I continue to question myself and my role. I reflect much more than ever before. I have found that this has become my signature dish of 'my being' instead of 'my doing'.
Change the point of view and change perspective, open new possibilities of growth. It provides us with a playground which leads to imagine a relationship with customers, employees, community, stake- and shareholders, friends and family members in a diversified manner.
Our world and businesses will remain people-centric. We will be measured by the responsibility we take for the people for whom we are in charge.
Empathy may be the new spirit in line with authenticity.
Maybe love and belonging will be the new KPI after COVID-19.
The mind twist of the shutdown may drive an impact and make a difference in our actions because when we act on an empathetic insight or impulse, it is the purest form of humanness. It is something that one does to anticipate a need or alleviate a burden. Moreover, maybe we will then live in a world where investments in real estate are just as significant as investments in people.