I recently had the great privilege of celebrating 10 years of rich conversations with a group of women who, like I, had been participants on the Catherine Mc Auley Leadership and Enrichment Programme back in 2003. This award is an initiative of the Sisters of Mercy that provides women with a unique experience of being in community with other women to explore and develop their understanding of and potential for leadership through the spirit of service.
The objectives of the programme included:
- Deepening your understanding of a Christian vision of leadership and service illumined by: the witness of Catherine McAuley, the sisters of her institute, significant women role models and mentors including women in the programme.
- Enhancing your sense of life, health and well–being through opportunities to explore and integrate the affective, intellectual, spiritual, political, social and vocational dimensions of your lives.
- A broader understanding of the concept of leadership and greater confidence in your leadership abilities and potential.
- Enhancing skills for leadership tasks including setting and implementing personal developmental goals.
- Greater sensitivity to issues of commonality and diversity and improved competency in engaging with these.
So 10 years on we spent a weekend together exploring how the program had influenced us, how a deep rich friendship had developed between six of us, and how our collective 60 years of shared life experiences had meant shared stories and experiences of births, deaths, marriages, new jobs and the opportunity to contribute to society through family, church, community, our work and by contributing to our diverse passions.
So what are some of our insights?
- Sister Anne Tormey, the Sister of Mercy RSM who lead us, is an excellent female role model of leadership and business, community and politicians can learn some lessons about collaboration in order to solve complex social problems from this model of leadership.
- Relationships – developing them, committing to them and contributing to them is most important to having a ‘Good Life’
- Listen twice and if at all possible say nothing
- Some people can seriously challenge your grace
- Developing your own set of values, whether they are drawn from your family, religion or work determine your priorities
- Ensure the things you do and the way you behave match your values, because then your life is usually good and you are satisfied and content.
- Have a Glass of Bubbly – when reading trashy mags we discovered “Researchers at the University of Reading found that compounds in Champagne can stimulate signals in part of the brain that control memory and learning. A glass of bubbly can also prevent the decline of cognitive skills with age”. We’ll drink to all of the above!
Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.