Columnist is going places, thanks to Roaring Fork Leadership
I am a better person today than I was a year ago.
How many of us can say that without hesitation? Hopefully all of us. That’s the idea — to learn and grow as time goes on.
But I had something pushing me pretty hard to become better: Roaring Fork Leadership.
This local leadership program, which lasts about nine months and accepts about 40 students each year, uses monthly daylong sessions and small-group civic projects to turn its participants into stronger leaders and all-around better people. I will graduate with the class of 2016 next month, and applications for the class of 2017 are being accepted now.
I applied for Roaring Fork Leadership when my boss at the time, Post Independent Editor Randy Essex, said he thought it would be good for me.
I took Randy’s suggestion as a compliment, but to be honest, I didn’t think it was such a great idea. I thought the program would be just one more thing sucking away my time, and worst of all, I didn’t believe I would learn all that much from it.
But I have never been in the business of saying no to Randy, and as usual, he was right: Roaring Fork Leadership was good for me. In fact, it’s been one of the most significant experiences of my life.
When I try to describe to people how it’s changed me so deeply, I start to understand why the program lasts nine months. The growth and development is impossible to explain in any brief conversation. But maybe some examples will do the trick.
One daylong session taught us how to successfully have “crucial conversations.” This is any kind of conversation that is going to be tough to have but needs to happen.
Before Roaring Fork Leadership, it was not unusual for me to either turn into a pushover during these conversations in my professional life or to let my emotions get the best of me in my personal life. Now, I’m able to be assertive (not aggressive), and I recognize my emotions and keep them in check.
Another session called “Mastering Performance” lasted three 10-hour days, which was exhausting in the moment, but I experienced so many personal breakthroughs that I can’t think of a better way I could have spent that time. I’m not exaggerating when I say it changed my life forever.
I learned a lot of lessons from this session, but what really stuck with me is how much my own brain had been holding me back in life without my even realizing it.
I grew up telling myself that I could do anything I set my mind do, and I really thought that’s what I believed. But this session unveiled to me all the ways in which I had held myself back.
For example, up until this session I had told myself, “I’m not good at math and science,” which ruled out a slew of professional fields. I could never be a doctor because that career is too science-heavy. I could never be a business owner because it seemed like I would need to be good at math to be successful.
So there I was, living my life in this tiny box I had constructed over time, completely unaware that I was even doing it.
And now that I’ve made it through Roaring Fork Leadership, I’m approaching life in a whole new way. I’m not allowing the little voice inside my head to tell me that I can’t do something anymore. Instead, I’m coming up with ideas and saying to myself, “Other people do this kind of stuff. Of course I can, too.”
In fact, I’m now a business owner — something I never thought I’d be able to say about myself. After “Mastering Performance,” I decided I wanted to start a pop-up contemporary art gallery in Glenwood Springs called Nomad. So I brainstormed with some friends, and I found a way to do it. Now, Nomad’s inaugural exhibit will open during June’s Second Friday Art Walk.
I can look at all the good things in my life right now — my work, my relationships, my level of self-confidence — and relate it all back to Roaring Fork Leadership. And the best part is I know this is just the beginning. I’m going places, and I’m taking Roaring Fork Leadership’s many teachings with me.
Jessica Cabe is a former arts and entertainment editor for the Post Independent. Her column appears on the third Thursday of each month.