TrustTemenos Leadership Academy

An experience report.

In the last months, from January to July 2018, I took part in the TrustTemenos Leadership Academy, held and developed by Olaf Lewitz, Christine Neidhardt and Scott Downs. The academy timescale is build around four weekends to meet in person every other month, and a weekly videocall of one hour. The agenda is based on the Temenos Concept going back to Siraj Sirajuddin. „Temenos“ is a greek word for the innermost part of a temple and by that stands for a safe space.

The TrustTemenos consist of four steps, which are represented by one of the in-person weekends in the academy. In the first step we begin to understand where we come from and what has brought us here, using an influence map. After that we clearify the present and it´s time to make clean slate with ourselfs. In the third step we formulate our personal vision to understand where we want to go and what we need to do. While everything until here had the goal to deeply reflect on ourselfs, the last step opens the stage to show up as a leader, by contributing actively with own prepared content to the agenda of the weekend.

I took part in that academy to become more aware of my strengths and weaknesses when taking over leadership. I wanted to understand what effect I already have on others and where I can unleash more potential. Also, in early 2018 I found myself a little bit stuck in self development as an experience Agile Coach that is somewhat established in the market since several years now, and I felt it was time for a new challenge.

Diving into the academy brought me to one of my inner borders pretty soon. In one of the early exercises the participants were invited to reflect on themselves, supported by an atmosphere of candles, turning down the lights, playing shanti music and hitting an asian bell as a start signal. I felt a strong resistance against all that esoteric stuff, and decided to speak up. I was prepared to leave the academy right away, when the rest of the program would be the same manner.

To my own surprise, my reaction set free a lot of energy in the group. Although the other participants didn´t feel strange with the atmosphere, they agreed with me, that we should change something to make the academy useful for all of us. So we added an exercise „wishes and sorrows“, to find out, what we as a group and every single participant would like and would not like to have happen.

Later I realized that this simple example told us one of the basic attitudes you need, when aiming for leadership: The ability to speak up for change when you see the need. Speak up for a good reason, without fear or shame, but with respect. Only then people are willing to follow you. The call for action should be an invitation.

During the eight month of the academy I have gone through other experiences, challenges and changes as well. The temenos process of leaving my past behind, cleaning my present and creating a personal vision helped me a lot to strengthen my goals, understand what I need to do, while getting more aware of personal traps and patterns, that everybody carries around. In my case it released my potential to think about a new setup for my business future. I already started a second self-employed business during the time of the academy.

The academy also gave me the energy and enough self-confidence to bring the Acceptance-Tolerance-Model to life, that was theoretically existing in my mind for a while, but I never thought about writing something done or even presenting it to others. Now by the end of the academy I have not only developed an exercise and tried it at several opportunities, it also found its way in the Certified Agile Leadership Course I co-facilitated with Olaf in July in Cologne, and I seriously think about submitting a session about it to some conferences.

In addition to all that business related stuff, I felt safe enough to even live present a selection of the electronic music I created on my own over the last 20 years, that I have never before dared to perform to more than 2-3 close friends. The overall positive resonance and atmosphere of warm welcome from people that even do not know or udnerstand this kind of music, but embrace the fact of art and energy I had put into creating it, was overwhelming and set free even more daring energy to show up on more and more occasions not only as a leader, but also with my music.

The most important impression I have about the academy is the highly respectful, welcoming and fail-safe atmosphere, that is created with and around the group. No expectations, no disappointments, no harm. At all. This atmosphere encourages so much the inner drive to try new things and be ok with whatever the result maybe. If wanting to be a leader or not, I can only recommend taking part in an experience like this. We should create more of our real life environments like that – with foundational respect, less expectations, more openness to new things and embracement to whatever people bring in.