Early in my professional life, I worked for a company called Human Factors East. It was based in California and the founder, John Thompson, wanted to have a satellite on the East Coast. Based in Massachusetts, Human Factors East was a company that provided leadership training both at the personal and corporate levels. Working for Human Factors East was formative for me. There were three avenues in which I saw myself learning; the interpersonal level, the entrepreneurial level and the spiritual level. It was a two year intensive training in relationship and life.
The basic training we offered consisted of three days. One, sometimes, two trainers would run the workshop of sixteen to thirty attendees. The process was carefully orchestrated so that participants would have a glimmer of self-awareness, fall into a morass of self-doubt, and rescue themselves by discovering the power of Forgiveness.
It was powerful and moving. On a few occasions, we lost attendees because it threatened them to look so closely at their own “stuff.” My job was to fill these workshops with attendees.
Another program that was run by Human Factors was the Leadership Intensive. It was an eight-day residential program that delved deep into attendees emotional and spiritual reservoirs. I attended an Intensive in Shelburne, Vt.. It was hosted at Shelburne Farms,originally a Biltmore Estate built on Lake Champlain.
There was a strict routine imposed upon participants. No contact of any sort with the outside world. No alcohol or tobacco. Organic food only.The day began with a run and Tai Chi, followed by breakfast. We were in session until lunch. In the afternoon, we would have a break for boating, hiking, tennis, or swimming. After about three hours, we would return for a session. Dinner was served, followed by an evening session.
This was work. This was powerful stuff.
How do I know it was powerful? Because it changed me. It was the first time I understood at a visceral level that I had a direct relationship with a Higher Being. It was with the breath-taking vistas of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks as a backdrop.
After the Leadership training, I took on more responsibilities with the trainings. It was heady stuff to work with people whom I genuinely liked and cared about doing something I believed mattered. I felt the sincere gratitude of the trainees at session’s end.
As a sales person, I was dogged, persistent and marginally successful. Just not successful enough. As the economy shifted, small business owners were less willing to send their employees to training programs for soft skill. Individuals did not want to part with their money. Human Factors East wasn’t making enough money to support all the players. HFE disbanded.
It was about two months of daily newspaper searches and callbacks and interviews before I landed a new job. I was bringing something far more valuable than my marketing skills and aptitude as a trainer to my marketing job at a bank. I was bringing the belief in myself as a leader.
It is time for the big reveal. It turns out the answer-of-all-answers, the big Kahuna, the Truth, the Way, the Ruby Slippers were there all the time. Resident within each of us, no matter our past or our plans for the future, is Spirit. Call it what you want. It is in direct connection with a Greater Being, the Source, Allah, God -- again just names. When we can tap into our core beings, we are nothing more than an expression of our strength, power and goodness. Leadership begins with a follower of one. We must follow our hearts.
It has been about 30 years since I did that work; it marked me for life. Equally battered and blessed by life's ride, I am still on a path of inquiry. Only recently have I considered sharing it with others.