“Your mind is like this water my friend. When it is agitated, it
becomes difficult to see. But if you allow it to settle, the answer
Master Oogway. Kung Fu Panda.
On the 19th of March 2018, I had the opportunity to be class CEO for the second time for an SLP Leadership session. When we were asked to select topics, even though I didn’t fully understand what “Reflections” meant at that time, I’m really glad I was drawn to the topic and chose to run with it.
The Startup Leadership Program has most certainly been a significant value add to my start-up journey and I quickly realised that this was apparent and true to most of the other SLP fellows as well, during the course of this module.
One of the most challenging and yet gratifying aspects of running this module was the fact that there was no real framework already in place, which allowed me to truly ‘reflect’ on the SLP journey that had been and create a module to suit the class. Also given that it was the penultimate session, there was plenty of inspiration to draw on.
The process of reflection entails giving something “much needed consideration”. However only reflecting on a journey wouldn’t be complete without knowing what to do with the results and understanding how to best utilise it going forward. Therefore the class was broken down in to three parts:
- Reflection and Introspection
- Harnessing the Present: Mindfulness
- Goals & The Future
- Reflection and introspection
For the first part, each fellow had a pre-prepared presentation that covered the following aspects:
Slide 1: Description of the current state of the business or business idea
Slide 2: A word/phrase or picture that best described you as a founder
Slide 3: How has SLP transformed your entrepreneurial journey?
Given that most, if not all other sessions had VC’s, industry experts, guest speakers and visitors help facilitate the module; it was a conscious decision to keep the reflections class limited to only SLP fellows in order to create a safe space to truly share our journey.
This undeniably came out when the presentations were being made. The environment was candid and the stories, thoughts and feedback were honest. As our cohort had such diverse start-ups with amazing fellows, there was so much to share. Some businesses had grown over the course of 7 months, some ideas had taken definitive shape, some had outgrown their current idea and already begun work on their next, some businesses were being remotely run and some had even shut shop for the right reasons. I’m genuinely glad that we spent some ‘us’ time to reflect on our journey. There was so much to learn from each story.
Harnessing the present: Mindfulness
After having reflected on our SLP journey and who we had become as entrepreneurs, we progressed to the next state of being, being in the now. To lead this session, we had one of our SLP fellows, Stacie Graham, a mindfulness practitioner take us through the basics of mindfulness.
She explained the three areas of mindfulness that, with empirical evidence of management teams, have been shown to have the greatest impact. We then spent a few minutes to see the examples in action through a live engagement with the audience. And lastly, she took us through guidance on integrating mindfulness into everyday activities like eating or walking to the tube. This was especially helpful since most people assume that it can only be practiced during meditation.
Goals and the Future!
The last part of our module was spent on drawing up some goals. Instead of merely writing down goals in a mundane ‘bullet-point’ format, everyone was encouraged to visualise and see their goals in mind. Writing down emphasises them in greater fashion and hence ‘typing’ out on a laptop was avoided. The fellows were also asked to ‘feel’ gratitude for the goals while writing them down, as if they had already happened.
These were categorised again in to three parts:
- Personal: Heart, body, mind and soul (with timelines)
- Professional: Where you'll be 1/2/3 months from now (With tangible milestones)
- Social: How you intend on making a social difference. For who, by when?
As an activity, everyone was asked to pick up two sheets of paper and an envelope with another fellow’s name on it.
The SLP fellows were thereafter required to write down their goals on these two sheets of paper. One to retain with themselves and another to seal within the envelope and hand over to the person who’s name was on the envelope. This buddy would then safeguard their goals and mail it back to the fellow in a month’s time.
The room fell quiet as only pen scratching paper could be heard for a while. The class, and program, had come one full circle; leaving us with new aspirations to look forward to. Each fellow walked up to the safe-keeper of their milestones, upon completion, and took them through their goals, thereby sharing each other’s responsibility to look out for their vision.
As envelopes, smiles, hi-fives and hugs were being exchanged, a sense of calm and clarity had descended in the room and as a class CEO, I couldn’t have asked for a more fitting end to a ‘Reflections’ class.