The last 5 days, I experienced something special. I felt the energy and power of a group of people, who are wholehearted. A group of people who came together in a Swiss Mountain hut in order to kick-off their ICats Fellowship 2015.
Recently, many stories have been written about people who give up well paid and very reputable positions in large corporations to go out and work with purpose driven organizations. Its a fact that there are more and more people who follow the desire to create positive impact in their jobs. 15 of these people were at the workshop and it was fabulous to see their dedication and passion to work for something greater than themselves.
However, that was not what made these last days so special. What struck me most was the effect of giving people an environment where they realize that they are respected as a human being and not just because of their professional achievements. Inspired by Brene Brown’s TED Talk about Vulnerability, we invited people at the workshop to 1) be courageous to be imperfect, 2) be compassionate to themselves and to the rest of the group and 3) connect on a human level by being authentic, by letting go the person who they think they should be and show the person who they really are. We asked people to let themselves be seen. According to Brene Brown, author of “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead” (2012) this is what whole hearted people are all about.
The remoteness as well as the charm of a Swiss Mountain hut, the invitation to show who they really are and the shared passion for creating positive change contributed to give participants the certainty, that it is ok to be themselves.
ICats were asked to introduce themselves by telling their life journey and to map which important events, people and relationships formed their identity. One participant talked about how he found joy in helping refugees. He had himself left his home country when he was 2 years old on a life threatening journey in a small boat, traveling across the ocean to end up in a camp for 5 years. Decades later, he climbed the ranks to become a successful professional with a good income and social status.
Nevertheless, he did not feel fulfilled. It was only when he started volunteering on weekends in a refugee camp in his home town, that he reconnected with the situation he had faced as a young boy. Helping children who are now living there gave him so much meaning and joy, that he caught himself longing all week long for the moment when he could be with the children again. Reflecting on these feelings, he decided that he not only wanted to volunteer to do good but to change his professional career too. This was when he found the job posting for the ICats Fellowship Program on the job portal of his former business school. Being nominated to the ICats Program will give him the opportunity to use his professional skills to support social enterprises in his country of origin.
Getting to know people like him and listening to their life journeys was amazing. Knowing that our program offers people the opportunity to transform their lives into something more meaningful is one of the greatest fulfillment one could have in one’s job.
I want to thank all participants for being so open and letting everyone see who they really are. This is what made us all connect on a human level. This is when the name of your university or your work experience becomes obsolete as you impress people through your true self.
I wish all ICats 2015 a wonderful year and I am excited to accompany their journey in 2015 and beyond.
You are very special!
Head of Impact & Talent
LGT Venture Philanthropy