Our Inaugural Advanced Leadership Retreat

In 2018 we launched our first Advanced Adaptive Leadership Retreat. One of our participants, Eddie Turner, shares his insights on the experience. 

When Five Days Isn't Just Five Days

There are times in our life when time just seems to stand still. In some cases, it’s because we are engaged in an activity that feels like drudgery.  Then there are others—those few times we like to savor and linger in the moment as long as possible knowing we are experiencing something rare and precious. The latter well describes how we felt for five days this summer. Those five days did not feel like five days. Paradoxically, while the time seemed to fly by concurrently it felt like it was much longer.

On July 30, 2018, Dr. Ronald Heifetz gathered 18 adaptive leadership practitioners who studied Adaptive Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School for a first ever, five-day advanced leadership retreat. The Adaptive Leadership Network, under the direction of the executive director Kirsti Samuels, sponsored the event. It was an incredible experience!

11 different countries outside of the United States were represented: South Africa, Pakistan, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Uganda, Morocco, Melbourne, London, Calgary, Zurich, and Greece. Participant profiles included: bankers, engineers, politicians, professors, coaches and CEO’s. Some participants studied with Dr. Heifetz 30 years ago. A couple had just completed studies with him months earlier. The participants enjoyed the benefits of the richness of diversity, thought, culture, and experience. 

We learned. We laughed. We struggled. We cried. We were challenged and refined emotionally and intellectually. By the end of the retreat, after having listened to Ron’s mesmerizing stories and having him elucidate his scholarly research along with the shared collective expertise in the room we sharpened our diagnostic skills, we cemented our understanding of the adaptive leadership framework and its application. We also took away a new gem Dr. Heifetz has become passionate about because of the current adaptive challenges facing the globe—the art of the “non-defensive defense.”

The amount of content and the depth of emotion we covered during the retreat made the five days fly by. At the same time, each of us absorbed what we could realizing the magnitude of what was unfolding before us.  Dr. Heifetz has been teaching for 35 years.  We don’t know how much longer he will continue but we had a heavy sense of awe. We all felt like we wanted to stop the master clock of time. Because of all we learned and experienced, the five days wasn’t just five days. It was a once in a lifetime transformational experience.

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