We were told that this trip was meant to be a transformative experience, and now I’ve had about a week to reflect about whether it was. Truth be told, I’m not sure I’d say I’m a different person, although this sort of claim would require some addressing of the nature of identity and what is meant by “transformative.” I imagine the idea behind calling it transformative is that it was meant to create an environment in which it was easy to grow or impossible not to. In this framing, I can say with certainty that it was successful.
For growth personally, the trip confirmed several suspicions I had. Not about myself, but about my relationship with the world around me. Even before the trip started, I began removing white noise from my own life by cutting back on social media and having selective hearing from the news. Being completely off the grid for 12 days confirmed that doing these things was right for me, so I’ve double-downed on them. Occasionally, the most productive thing someone can do is nothing, and not only knowing when one should step back, but actually being able to fully step away is a skill that will allow for a clear head for tough decisions in the future. For some time, I had struggled with the why of life. I created an answer that felt pretty sound, but I was still dissatisfied with it before the trip. The trip gave the experience to to back up that answer for me, so I am now significantly more motivated. I would go into more detail here, but that might turn into a tangent.
The other growth happened in regards to my views and practices of leadership. Like much of my education, the trip has taken something I thought was fairly well-defined and introduced a lot of gray area. What is a leader? Someone who is able to move a group of people towards a common goal, but this definition misses a lot of what needs to be done to accomplish this, and may imply that the leader is the loud one leading the charge. What seems to be more true is that a leader is whatever a leader needs to be to reach that common goal, and that is often not the role of director. Someone who not only understands the necessary process to reach the goal, but how that process is related to each individual in the group, so that they may mold to the needs of each individual. It seems correct to say, then, that leadership is not about the who of that individual, but the what and the how of his/her actions, as it is not the greatness of an individual that makes their actions great, but the greatness of their actions that make the individual great.