You know what’s funny? After Africa I came home feeling like a new person. I had so much growth and learnt so much about myself. Who would have known how much more there could be?
I came home wanting to be in my authentic truth. I wanted to live my life without my past holding me back any longer. I took some steps to make sure that was on my cards.
Then came time for The Bridge Experience. I walked into that first weekend having no idea what lay ahead but excited to begin my journey into me.
That weekend had me standing in my truth. It had me owning the thing I felt most guilt and shame about. And as I’ve learnt and been taught you cannot disown the things that you have not owned. I felt full body release in that moment of sharing and I felt full non judgement and pure love, that which I didn’t think was possible.
So many realizations came about that weekend. But it was my beginning to learning that people saw me as kind or loveable and yet closed off and not wanting to be connected to people. Previously people have asked me if I was a yoga teacher or something because I had a calming presence and I would laugh at them as if that was impossible. Receiving compliments was not my forte.
The word that stuck with me was someone said that I was forgettable in the anonymous feedback task and it had me questioning if I was trying to be forgettable, and I knew that I was.
If I was invisible and not making waves and therefore no one would remember me then no one could hurt me or want to hurt me as I had been hurt before, right?
Wrong. And Extreme leadership taught me that and more.
I thought Bridge opened me up but Extreme smashed me and my ego to pieces. I never knew how much I could hate something and love it at the same time until that weekend. I cried so much, my stomach was upset most of the time and I knew that meant the course was doing what it was supposed to. When I got news my sisters condition had deteriorated slightly I almost used that as a good excuse to quit and leave. After all, that meant I could put someone else before me which is much more important than my own personal growth right? Nope.
The first exercise on the first day had me admitting how much I push people away for fear they will hurt me. I said words aloud that I’ve never said before. Hearing how those words affected my buddy made my brain spin too. Hell it even showed me that when I hug I wasn’t connecting completely. It was a half hug with disconnection to still keep me that tiny bit safe. Or so I thought. Preston said at the beginning of Bridge that the people who hate hugs are usually the ones who need it most and I laughed, but turns out (not surprisingly) he was right.
More guilt and shame was released than I even knew possible during Extreme. I learnt about the masks I wear and how they affect me and my life. I learnt about my operation in this world and how ineffective or effective it could be.
I learnt about so much that I’ve never even considered. Masks can help us in times but can hinder us in others. My shy girl mask does that a lot of the time.
I learnt that I wasn’t open to receiving or even knew how to receive and that it is ok to ask for what you want or need. Who would have ever thought?
Even with this I was still invisible. I didn’t make the effort to connect with a lot of people and I knew that. It was proven when my group told me I was still closed off. My growth happened when I let them in. That was my cataclysm for change.
The love I felt when I did that felt so different to anything I’ve ever felt before. The connection I felt because I opened myself to them has changed my life for the better. I learnt that by closing myself off for fear of being hurt I was actually closing myself off to feeling the good things too. Deep down I guess I knew this but my ego kept me in that story. But it’s far better to risk being hurt and feel those things than feel none of it. The best part was – without my masks they were seeing me, and accepting me, and not judging me. They held space for me to be me.
Extreme was a room full of amazing people who could hold space for you to truly just be you and stand in your power and applaud you for doing so. The people in the room at Extreme were to get to know me better than anyone else in my life. Those people taught me how to truly receive. As I said earlier if someone gave me a compliment I would almost scoff at them as if there were no way they could be telling the truth. So to stand there as people filled me with acknowledgment for whatever they saw me lean into or achieve that weekend was such an insane feeling. A feeling that almost felt wrong to me.
By the end of Extreme I had been ripped so wide open that there was nowhere for me to go but into that cave of openness.
And it showed at the end of the last night. During the weekend when we would go to hug people I would be hesitant and others, I imagine, could feel that. Sometimes I would lock eyes with someone and they would avoid a hug with me, at least that’s how I felt or was my perception, which of course would just reaffirm whatever story I had written about myself. But that last session where we hugged and people were saying to me “it is so good to see you with a smile and open” I knew that I had finally leaned into it. I had dropped that fear of rejection and went for it. And it was the most hugs I received all weekend from people I hadn’t connected with before then. And fuck it felt good to feel that energy and love. I realized how much I had missed out on over the years by keeping everyone at arms length.
I learnt that leadership is unreasonable. Leadership doesn’t care if you have a sister in ICU with a brain injury because you have commitments that need taking care of. Leadership doesn’t care if you are doing a 3 day personal development course and still need to raise 50k for a charity during that time. Leadership is about being able to do all that and more. Leadership is about being able to deep dive and lean in and learn.
Guess what? We achieved all that and more and my family survived without me, never would have guessed it right? I am far better off to serve my family now because I stuck it out than I would have been had I quit.
Leadership comes in all different shapes and sizes. Most of us think of the big personalities and voices as the leaders, yet forget that sometimes it’s the quiet Rosa Parks who sat in a bus seat and refused to move that can be a leader. Rosa created massive change when she did that. Extreme was about finding your personal leadership style.
This is only the beginning but it’s a damn good start to where I want to go, even if I’m not sure exactly where that is just yet.
For two weekends that absolutely terrified me they have given me more than I could ever have hoped for. Alexi and Preston truly do live their purpose and the leaders they are creating will truly change the world. They do things differently to any other coach I’ve seen. They call you forward with love. They call you forward with the truth. They give you the most amazing tools to use in life. They are the true embodiment of leadership and so are their guardians. Without the guardians I wouldn’t have had the breakthroughs or shares or felt the warmth that I felt.
I am so grateful for the amazing humans I had this experience with but most importantly, my husband for leaning in and coming on this journey with me. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have booked Extreme and wouldn’t have had that insane, crazy experience and would easily fall back into my old patterns. Doing Bridge and Extreme together was the best thing we could ever have done for our relationship.
I don’t want to go back to old patterns. No longer do I only want to be a spectator in my life – I’m ready to be a player.
I’m making a commitment to myself to keep on this path, the path that begin over a year ago now, wherever it may lead and no matter how hard it may get. Because I know how much something can hurt and what happens on the other side of that pain. There is nothing more fulfilling than releasing whatever that hurt was and the space that is then created to be filled with love and happiness.
So I guess all I have left to say besides how you do anything is how you do everything, is
Watch this space ❤️
I am The Bridge