Tomorrow, New Zealanders will start to navigate around the new normal of Level 2. So before we press pause on our weekly lockdown letters we wanted to encourage the Play CoLab community to reflect on what this extraordinary seven week period has meant for them.
While we have listed some questions to reflect on at the end, we want to firstly share how the lockdown has impacted on Play CoLab as a practice.
Five of the Play CoLab collaborators made a point of a twice-weekly virtual catch up for the sole purpose to connect. While we know each other well, prioritising this commitment to “zoom into” the comfort and relaxed ease of each other’s homes, unexpectedly taught us some new things about collaborative teams. Collaboration is not about working on a project together or co-creating a google doc, it’s about choosing to play wholeheartedly and open mindedly as one transformative team.
With no set agenda or time limit, we let the process flow and found that we naturally talked deeply and intently about the world around us and our observations of the global responses, sharing many articles, stories and video clips so we could explore and debate issues. But we gave equal if not more weight to how we were each feeling, collectively restocking and strengthening our inner resources by getting curious to how we were each taking of ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally. In Leadership Circle terms, we spent as much time in Systems Awareness as Personal Awareness which made us an even closer, more cohesive and connected group.
The impact on our work has been phenomenal in that prioritising our team in the lockdown has meant that we have been able to attend to initiatives we have been talking about literally for months and collaborate effortlessly on the development. Things just flowed.
Hence it has been an enormously productive time as we consider who we might choose to be in this fundamentally disrupted world and how we might contribute. We felt collectively that it was important to ensure our work becomes more accessible. How we might do that is of course found in the feedback from alumni such as yourselves and hence we have some new offerings that respond to what you have shared with us over the last 4 and a half years:
A Short Course on Shadows – to respond to all the people who have said something like “look, do you have anything for my husband/wife so we are on the same page on that masks and shadows stuff?”
Another Second Act course – but rather than aiming this solely at mid-lifers, we have repurposed the content making it relevant to anyone who, post-Lockdown, might be reinventing by default rather than design.
And we are taking the work younger to respond to all those people who have said “Oh I wish I had done this work years ago – things might have been very different for me” and “could you have a chat to my son/daughter”. Not only will we offer the Contemporary Leader course for managers, similar to Leadership@Play, but also a mentoring experience for those in their 20s as they start out their adult life.
All these new offerings have accessible pricing and payment plan options.
As you know, we are big on setting intentions and part of our collaborative practice is supporting each other to be directed by one’s own inner compass as well. The old model of leadership development is about goal-setting and striving, in an all or nothing way. What is becoming apparent is that the contemporary model is gentler; it is about allowing not pushing, being guided by intention and curiosity not driven to action by fear and anxiety.
And so, we are sharing what emerged for each one of us during lockdown:
For Jenna, a new way of life is opening up quite different from the one-track career ladder she walked away from last year. She is not only continuing her post-graduate degree in Asian Studies but realised her digital skills can be creatively deployed in creating websites, like the one she did for Jenny, and in other ways. In the final stages of her coaching certification, over lockdown Jenna found herself being approached weekly to coach. This then led her to bring to life the idea of Mentoring@Play, an experience for those starting out in their 20s. She then went on to reformat The Contemporary Leader, a course of which she is a two times alumni.
Yolande, our Aussie born NZ citizen, made some big decisions from the heart. She quit her fancy Exec Producer job, caught the last flight out of Sydney, declared NZ her real home and is prioritising her work with Play CoLab, (hooray), alongside her philanthropy interests. She has been focussing on her volunteer work with the Funding Network NZ, which raised over $60k for charities on an online crowdfunding initiative over lockdown, as well as contributing to the design of Mentoring@Play.
Jane’s insights and understanding of alternative economic frameworks has never been more important nor pertinent and she has found herself not only contributing to a project around the Māori economy but also a group considering alternatives to capitalist systems. And as a mother of two teenage boys who have been homeschooled through the lockdown, she is considering how home-centred models rather than workplace-centred models might emerge in a post-Covid reality.
Jenny for some time has led a group of Play CoLab alumni who explore the impact of collective intention through meditation, and this stepped up to be a weekly practice over lockdown. But this recent period became an opportunity to start exploring two key things which have been calling her for some time. Aside from reimagining her website which finally looks and feels like her, (take a look!), she is developing an online course on Shadow Work. She realised that in some way she has been hiding in the proverbial shadows for too long and not acting on a calling to play bigger and play global – providing a course online is the first step toward this so watch this space.
And the biggest shift for Sandy has been about letting go. She always thought that making Great Barrier Island her home base could only happen when Play CoLab was further ahead in its evolution. But the lockdown led her to simply prioritise how she herself wanted to feel about her own life and that in itself led to the next iteration of Play CoLab which is starting to take on a life and form of its own, more expansively than she could have imagined. While she will co-facilitate Leadership@Play, the Second Act reinvention course and the occasional executive team experience, it is writing, research and studying that is starting to call again. So flipping her life to be more island-centred than city-centred is all part of this.
When Play CoLab was founded, it was based on a personal philosophy dubbed Work Life Play, a pushback against the framing of the work/life balance construct that tended to drive people to the polarities causing so many to have an egoic identity tied in with their jobs. We became interested in the possibility of the seamless weaving and interconnecting of the two, leading not only to deep satisfaction and joy but enhanced impact and influence on workplaces, communities and the world. To do and be this, would require us playing with leadership development to create a more contemporary model. But of course we needed participants who were up for playing in a different way and we extend our deepest thanks to you for trusting us in this process. Your individual and collective experiences continue to inform the work.
So here is one final exercise before re-entry. While we encourage you to do this in your journal, we challenge you to voice out loud, right now, the answers to these questions:
How would I like to live differently?
What would a better or more meaningful/purposeful life for me look like?
What would I add to my life?
and what would I take away?
What might get in the way of that/hold me back?
What support might I need to truly live the sort of life I know I am ready to live….
Now, go and write it down!
Thank you for being part of our Play CoLab community. As always, we are here when you need us.
Sandy, Jenny and all at Play CoLab