My first email contact with Dr. Liz Armstrong informing her of my plight was answered with a most caring note of empathy and reassurance. I was not to worry if I did not make it to the course she said, with provision made for coming the following year if required, fees intact. Could I manage it at all I asked myself? Everything was in place, funeral over, dues paid, flight and hotel booked, and rather than mope in my understandable moment of grief, I decided to go. It was one of the better decisions of my year.
Meeting Liz Armstrong for the first time, I felt a sense of presence from the outset. Later joined by Clay Christensen, Thomas Aretz, Connie Bowe, Sue Farrell and other faculty, a new world unraveled for me. While some moments were a blur, others were needle sharp. I was totally immersed in the Leading Innovations course in distraction, and it was the cure for mourning. Be practical. Life goes on regardless.
I made up my mind swiftly to return for another course in 2010 but I was pre-empted by being invited back as alumni faculty for the same program. Then I met Myra Hunt, coaching me in small group sessions with her dulcet Southern tones, always with enthusiasm and frequent humor. The seeds of wanting to pursue a Master’s degree were sown, but just what area remained undetermined. Exploring the Internet for possible avenues, I found an MBA in Leadership & Sustainability from the Robert Kennedy College (RKC) in Zurich, a highly ranked on-line program with a mandatory residency. I started my degree in 2011, meeting another array of audible but unseen professors as the modules progressed. What was entirely novel was communicating with global on-line colleagues, bent on the same ambition. They came from every walk of life, young, old, professionals, CEOs, COOs – I felt in good company.
Organizational behaviour was a blast. No problems, but then oh! marketing management. I gained a new respect for marketing and realized how little I actually knew, and it was nearly the cause of my downfall as I scraped a pass. Better effort required? No, more learning required. Money and then Financial Management modules followed before I arranged my residency. RKC being on-line has to collaborate with another institution, in this case, the University of Cumbria, UK, which grants any eventual degree.
Now into 2012, no HMI course! I suffered withdrawal syndrome so went back for the HMI Educators course in 2013. Surprisingly, HMI teaching and my MBA studies dovetailed extremely well. I felt “safely in the groove” but all was to change with Bob Kegan’s arrival on the scene. Bob is a man who transfixes your attention. His infamous one-man dialogue is worthy alone for attendance on the course, and he is faculty at Harvard Business School. Inspired with memorable instruction, I subsequently bought two of his books – “In over our heads – the mental demands of modern life” and “How the way we talk can change the way we work.” I strongly recommend both.