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Be. Leadership 2018: Session 2, Society – what’s really going on here?

By Kelli-Anne Te Huki

Have you ever had that feeling where you walked in feeling comfortable and prepared for the topics for the day and then there's that moment when all your preconceived ideas were turned upside down and your view of something expanded into something totally different? Well, I think many of us felt like this following Session #2.

Red Nicholson opened the weekend with a sense of empathy for those he worked with and a sense of frustration at the system. The way he so willingly opened up about his personal and thought-provoking experiences gave the room a sense of compulsion to listen and engage. The ways we discussed underlying racial differences and almost segregation within schooling systems, be it zoning or the decile system, created a range of curiosities amongst the group. Although there are flaws in every system, the way he explained how leadership evolving from creating dialogue really followed on and added to discussions from our first session. Whether it's leader as a host or a facilitator, how can you truly try to help someone if you don’t know what they need? – the best way is to communicate.

The second day we met Dr. Angela Maynard, another leader whom completely changed our perceptions of society, this time from an anthropological and sociological approach. Have you ever been told that what you thought was true is actually a lie? Well, I for one, definitely have now. Breaking down everything from capitalism and secret dooms-day bunkers to myths about New Zealand, she definitely helped us realise that all is not what it may seem, which perfectly fit the weekend's theme. Learning about sociological imagination and how that can aid our leadership journeys perfectly melded Red's conversation and how we view our own backyard as well as how we can approach, break down and understand any issues or situations in the future. We were encouraged to ask questions, even if it's about why sport is like opium in New Zealand and how current day situations compare to 200 years ago to how to better build community ethos. I think everyone should be encouraged to think more critically about society while remaining humble.

If reconstructing our views about the world in only two days wasn't enough, Karen Sew Hoy certainly made us all take a close look at who we thought we were as individuals and shined a light on some character revelations and self-realisation! What to some may have seemed as a bunch of random letter combinations, ended up as a tool to better understand ourselves as individuals and how that affects our group dynamics both in syndicates and as a whole. Whether an image of a simple apple entices thoughts of Adam and Eve, you see a normal, red, shiny apple or think "it's just an apple!" apparently can say a lot about a person; it was definitely a new approach to understanding personality types and differences.

While it's only the end of the second session, it is amazing to see how our group is growing together. Whether it’s friendly disagreements surrounding ideas, or encouraging our more introverted members to back themselves and speak their mind, the bonds we are making are clearly broadening our horizons, building wonderful friendships, and giving us headaches from thinking too much, which I guess is actually a good thing. While I can't speak for us all, the way we are developing our leadership styles to respect and value perspectives and knowledge from others even more, critically analyse society, and filling each other's buckets, is an amazing thing to be a part of. When it comes to the Be. Team, they are definitely encouraging us to take the red pill and delve deeper into society and ourselves on our leadership journey and all I can say is, we're all strapped in for the ride.