Dr. Michael Eisenhauer, Class of 2020, Great Falls
Wow. As I am confident that others have also observed, it just keeps getting better and better as we collectively grow both as individuals and as a group! It has indeed been so rewarding to be a part of this growth, and to increasingly hear similar personal reflections from so many of us. We are together laying a very effective foundation based upon trust and confidence in each other. We can have the difficult conversations and ask the difficult questions – and by doing so, we only further brighten our collective experiences as members of the LMT Class of 2020 and as future Leaders for Montana.
This was “Government Month”, with classes based in Helena and many activities centered upon our State government. We enjoyed a very authentic (and off the record!) conversation with Governor Steve Bullock and several members of his office and Cabinet. That afternoon, we met with two of our finest Justices from Montana’s Supreme Court and then received a presentation regarding planning efforts for next year’s federal/state/local 2020 Census. After a long and busy day, we appreciated a very nice dinner reception at the Montana Historical Society. The next day, we enjoyed a hosted lunch and tour of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis – Helena branch, and a very nice dinner/presentation from President John Cech, PhD, from Carroll College, who is understandably very proud of their expanded professional nursing education program.
But intertwined, this session just like others involved a serious amount of internal and interpersonal work from which we all benefit, with each of us once again passing through a not-so-small period of deep reflection and introspection. In the process, we each formed our own commitment to “learn in public” while growing in our understanding that when groups engage in learning openly together, everyone comes out ahead. Gracious Space asks this of us: to listen in a new way; to be willing to be influenced; to hold our opinions lightly; to admit when we don’t know; and to be ready to change our minds.
We also spent considerable time reviewing the essential nature of conflict, both interpersonal and within organizations. Of course, this again required a genuine amount of interpersonal trust as we openly revealed and discussed aspects of our own personality or interpersonal behaviors that may not be so constructive in our lives or professions. But in the end, we again found mutual comfort in the effort! I know personally that I occasionally fell into brief periods of deep contemplation and introspection during this session, such that I had to be repeatedly ‘snapped out of it’ by my tablemates. And indeed, even that turned out to be another opportunity for personal growth as I learned how others may perceive my silent withdrawal into my own space during difficult conversations. It did not necessarily feel good – but it was a very important lesson for me to learn. And I learned it from you together, and in a safe space. I am so grateful for that; I’ve experienced similar feelings in each of our prior classes together, as well.
This month, the application window for LMT Class of 2021 opened and will remain open through March. I am issuing a challenge to each of you to identify and then sponsor an applicant to next year’s course. Several of us have been financially supported by our employers – go back and thank them, share a few personal growth experiences with your leadership that you enjoyed while participating in LMT, and to ask them to continue their support for LMT next year. Others of us are not financially supported but have an even larger opportunity to go back and share what Leadership Montana is and what it means to be a class member. I think that we all agree – this is far more than just traveling the State and learning about community challenges. This course provides an enriching opportunity for personal insight and growth that I believe has been surprising for all of us and is nothing short of personally and professionally gratifying. I have already approached my own employer with the suggestion that they consider funding an applicant for next year’s course – it has literally been THAT GOOD of an experience, and unlike any that I’ve seen in other (and very different) courses in Leadership.
Wow. Not at all what I expected when I enrolled into this program – it is so much more. I am already dreading our last session in April – I do not want it to end. Did you feel the same?