We are all leaders. In one way or another, whether at home or in the wider world, we each hold a certain place of influence.
I spent the weekend swinging around the jungle with thirty amazing young Maori leaders. These leaders from diverse backgrounds, aged up to 35, came together from all around New Zealand to connect, inspire, support and to challenge one another to greater heights - both symbolically and literally.
We shared stories, sang songs, played games and found ourselves harnessed to ropes and traversing through an at-height obstacle course in Tauranga tree tops. We were lawyers, farmers, Masters and PHD students, teachers, youth workers, military, poets, artists, singers, sportsmen, philosophers and advocates. We swung, scrambled, crawled, pulled and hoisted ourselves and our new found friends through the sky challenge.
Throughout this weekend I learned important life and leadership lessons.
Leaders create teams. In the tree top course every challenge was higher and harder than the previous. We all found ourselves giving and receiving more verbal and emotional encouragement to each other as we progressed through the trees together.
Just like in the trees, there are times in life where as each stage gets higher the more tired we get, the more we want to drop out, therefore the more support we need.
Leaders create support structures. Our facilitator metaphorically explained she was a lonely warrior battling the frontlines alone; hence the creation of a space where other lonely warriors could come together and be lonely no more.
Leaders know their strengths and those of others. We are each created with unique gifts, talents and abilities. We each have inherent desires and a distinct design or technical disposition to match. We can each do things far greater and more naturally and gracefully than others.
Leaders recognise this.
They seek to create synergies where the skill set and natural dispositions of people complement each other and where the strength of one overcomes the weakness of another, and vice versa, in order to leverage and maximise impact.
The academics applauded the performers on stage; the performers admired the academics. We each have a part to play.
Leaders have laser focus. They focus on the good, block the bad and go for gold.
Nine times out of 10 they get it simply by charging after it and refusing to let fear enter the equation.
In the trees I focused on the rope beneath my feet, while the background melted away into a blur along with any negative thoughts of falling. I was determined to get across each challenge and got exactly that.
Leaders shine and call others to do the same.
Dwight Moody says, "We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won't need to tell anybody that it does. Lighthouses don't fire cannons to call attention to their light - they just shine."
During my weekend, graduate after graduate spoke of their Masters studies and the passion that fuelled them.
My friend who was there who is younger than me, a Harvard graduate and now University law lecturer, constantly inspires me simply by her presence. She is the demonstration of the words of Maryanne Williamson, "And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
We started as strangers and each left with profound connections, relationships and lessons to reflect upon.
Jacoby Poulain is a Hastings District Council Flaxmere Ward councillor.