Planes, trains and automobiles brought us all together to the far eastern side of our state to enjoy the warm hospitality of the “Sunrise City”, Sidney. It was wonderful (and entertaining) to learn of the travel arrangements classmates collaborated on to make the long trek fun. Finally, our classmates Luke and Sharon had a session in their backyard.
What struck me about this session was the intentionality of the entire Leadership Montana curriculum. In the first five sessions we learned about our MBTI and how to know ourselves, see ourselves as others do and how to communicate better with different personality types. Hard work for me at least. But it got harder as we learned how to listen to understand rather that just to rebut or reply. That is where we found ourselves in Great Falls and more so in Sidney. This is the intentionality that I felt. This is putting in practice (learning in public) what we’ve been made aware of for six months.
The agriculture and oil economy of Sidney is different than most parts our LM journey. The boom and bust cycle of the oil industry is particularly foreign to most of the class and that’s what will resonate for me. The infrastructure challenges and operational funding imbalance makes addressing solutions even more difficult. Particularly when local and state politics are seemingly at odds. But the community has learned from past cycles and seems to better address the challenge with confidence.
Strangers six months ago greeted each other like family and shared what has changed since we saw each other just 4 weeks earlier. The class member conversations wound down to the final few and classmate updates began. This is more of the intentionality of the program. An exercise we attempted (and failed) in Bozeman involving lowering a tent pole together we succeeded in Sidney. We’ve jelled enough as a team to agree on a class moniker: The Great 1-8, selected a class representative and regional reps to lay the groundwork for our alumni work.
We recognized that this LMT journey, which seemed so long at the beginning, now seemed to be coming to an end too soon. But again the intentionality comes in: we have ways to connect with each other going forward and with alumni. Particularly helpful to that end is The Leading Edge newsletter available on our website that announces new Gracious Space training opportunities, The Confluence and Statewide Pint Nights (one of my favorite activities). We can gather, work together and continue striving with each other for a better Montana.