The Edge is a unique long term leadership development investment made by NZ CA and designed specifically to help participants draw on their personal strengths and develop the mindset and confidence to lead with their most natural and impactful style. It provides participants the opportunities, space and tools to grow their unique strengths and skills rather than focusing on ‘models’ of leadership.
A core element of The Edge is the experiential learning approach it offers within the natural environment of Anakiwa in the beautiful Marlborough Sounds. This unique development opportunity combines neuroscience-based leadership facilitation with learning in nature and introduces teams and individuals to activities they may not have experienced before.
RSM Auckland Manager Irene Guest and Audit Partner Jason Stinchcombe were both participants on this programme, and in the first of a two part series sharing thoughts and reflections on the experience - Irene breaks down how she found her confidence, exceeded personal expectations and shares the moment she believed she'd throw in the towel.
This is Irene's story, in her own words, of how she stood at The Edge and took a leap of faith.
Can you share what went through your mind as you first arrived at the base camp? Could you describe how you felt at the time?
Leading up to Outward Bound (night before and morning of) I was a wreck, I was extremely nervous and scared of failing, letting myself down, letting my firm down. I had a feeling that this course was going to push me to my limits (physically, mentally and emotionally). I was also extremely excited and ready for the challenge, I have been on a personal journey over the past two years so I really wanted to know what I was capable of and wanted to make my super supportive family, friends and colleagues PROUD of how far I have come over this time.
Was there a moment where you doubted yourself during the experience?
Yes! There were two times that I contemplated giving up;
The first was when we were learning how to escape from an upside down sea kayak. The first flip was fine I was calm, flipped myself upside down, tapped the kayak to request assistance and my buddie, Jason Stinchcombe (RSM Audit Partner), flipped the kayak upright perfectly. The second flip however didn’t go as straightforward, I was calm flipped myself upside down, however when I went to find and pull the tag to release the kayak skirt I couldn’t feel the tag through my wetsuit gloves.
I didn’t panic straight away but instead thought ‘oh sh*t, what do I do now?’ After a few seconds I ended up tapping on the kayak to ask for assistance and again Jason managed to flip me back over (he saved my life!).
When I was upright and safe that is when the doubt started creeping in, I have always been quite comfortable in the water as I had spent most of my summers growing up swimming in the Hokianga Harbour. But after a few moments of reassurance and support from Jason and Lauren (outward bound instructor) I removed the gloves and built up enough courage to give it another crack!
The second moment was up amongst the trees on the high ropes course, I have NEVER been a fan of heights. I decided to be one of the first to give the course ago so that I couldn’t wind myself up before starting. This whole exercise was to teach ourselves that the fear that we felt was just exaggeration and not our reality.
I had been set a challenge by Lauren (outward bound instructor) to make the ‘Leap of Faith’ without holding on to my possum tail (safety rope) this is when the fear really creeped in and I almost gave into it. But thanks to all the continuous support from the others I managed to make the jump, I was in tears, but I did complete the challenge and finish the rest of the course.
Describe the experience in a few words..
Challenging but rewarding and validating. This experience was everything I wanted and more, I met some amazing people who are on similar paths, I have learnt a lot about myself and what I am capable of.
I now see the potential that others see in me.
How will this experience influence your work?
I feel I am more confident in myself, my knowledge, my abilities and my limitations. I now also understand that everyone is different whether it is different learning styles, different approaches, different needs. Using some of the tools I will continue to grow with and challenge my colleagues to be our best selves.
Thanks to The Outward Bound Trust of New Zealand for allowing us to use the photos in this article, there's some amazing moments captured - please take some time to check them out here, you will not be dissapointed. You can also find out more information on The Edge here. We're all so very proud of you Irene - thank you for sharing.