Masters Class Session Class Reflection by Aaron Pratt, Class of 2017 & Masters 2020, Helena
Traveling to attend the first session of the Master Class was like stepping back in time. High winds blew stampeding herds of tumbleweeds across the 2-lane highway, with each strong gust stirring clouds of whirling dust. As I approached Fort Benton, my cell service dropped off completely and I was challenged to navigate the last few miles by memory – a sad reminder of my dependence on technology. Arriving at the historic Grand Union Hotel in Fort Benton, I discovered their WiFi was down, and remained down for the entire four-day session. There I was – off the grid in this town and hotel so rich with history – forced to pause and pace myself to nothing more than the Master Class agenda.
I arrived in Fort Benton with no expectations at all about the Masters Class. I completed the pre-session work, but hadn’t thought much about what it meant or how it might connect with my previous experience in the Flagship Program. The orientation transported me right back to my first day in the Flagship Program at Big Sky – except everyone in the room now speaks the language of Leadership Montana, and intuitively practices elements of Gracious Space. This shared experience and language accelerated our conversations and deepened the level of trust we needed to dive deep into the work ahead.
The benefits to me of this session of the Master Class was the depth at which we were able to analyze our Leadership Practices Inventory, values, and beliefs, and build from these the tools to define and overcome our individual challenges. Where the Flagship Program gave me the language and tools, the Master Class has given me something to build. It sounds like a lot to bite off, and it is, but time passed incredibly quickly and was layered with opportunities to walk along the Missouri River, tour the historic Fort, listen to classmate conversations, and celebrate each other’s revelations and contributions.
In true Leadership Montana fashion, evenings provided time to unwind, connect with old friends and new, and process and decompress from the very full days. Driving away from Fort Benton toward Helena on Friday, with the winds still stirring the air and whipping the water in the river, I was dreading the moment I would come back into cell service, and my time would again be full of demands and distractions. The few days spent in Fort Benton were truly a gift, and a great kickoff to what I’m sure will be more unforgettable time with the Master Class and my new classmates.