I always approach my annual trips to Windsor with great anticipation. An event to lift the grey of January, a time to have the space to think about how life is evolving and what that means for me as a leader who works with leaders too. As the taxi from the airport drops me off and I show my passport to the police at the gate the sense of something special about to happen engulfs me.
As an old timer it's also time with friends to deepen connection, to laugh, to reflect. The ancient setting of course creates a connection through time to something beyond ourselves and adds to the stimulus of thinking and expression. A trip to Evensong enhances that sense of long standing traditions and rhythms of a world so different to my own. As a Scot perhaps I feel it stronger-it doesn't feel like my history-and that in turn stimulates a different understanding, an exotic twist on a remarkable opportunity to learn.
What I have noticed over the years that I learn as much from the discussions I don't agree with as the ones I do. Perhaps I spend too much time with people who think similarly, it's easy to collude in our beliefs and seek out those who confirm them after all. But Windsor brings a much wider experience to my norm and I suspect that's the other part I value.
The exchanges that leave me irritated, even annoyed if I'm honest with myself, are often the most valuable. Perhaps they challenge a fixed belief that needs to be prodded from time to time or its maybe that irritation helps me articulate my counter position better. It also challenges my authenticity. I look at how I might express my response constructively and how that leaves me open to learning. It is all so valuable and why so often I leave Windsor unable to describe exactly what I have learned in that moment. But that changes as my learning slowly simmers and my insights deepen.
A strong theme for me and others this year was how we enable others ( and ourselves?) to move from a concept of hierarchical leadership models to ones of shared leadership. It's one I have studied of late through research into the Workplace of Tomorrow where People and Planet Really Matter. So it wasn't a new concept to me maybe but the discussion helped to affirm and give power to my belief in the need for this paradigm shift in leadership. My year ahead I know will be focused on how to to enable myself and others to achieve this in reality.
I know why I prioritise this trip to Windsor every year, it's a rare gift and a special place to learn and grow. each time I think how much I would love to replicate this opportunity in Scotland too...who knows maybe this year I will.