• Charli

Skye Columba 1400 October 2019

When Columba 1400 was first offered to me during my PRD process I did not believe I was worthy or that indeed by making such a professional commitment I would in fact be embarking on a professional and personal journey. However previous experience of being challenged, supported and motivated when I joined the SEIC Leadership Collaborative in May and experienced first hand what a difference I could make because actually I mattered, I decided to give Columba 1400 my very best.

I chose to attend the HTLA based in Staffin on Skye because I grew up near Loch Lomond – where the other HTLA site is – which is hauntingly beautiful and holds many happy and poignant memories for me but although I have lived in Scotland nearly all my life, I had never visited Skye. I wanted a clear head for this and was delighted with the ‘no alcohol, no drugs’ rule. Sober October was about to get a whole lot easier.

It might be considered hindsight or wishful thinking but when I made the booking I could envisage clear skies, stunning vistas, opportunities to be outside, as well as positivity and smiles and so I decided to go during the half term break. None of us were disappointed, the weather was incredible and afforded many opportunities to chill and still, walk and talk, explore and express. Furthermore, going in half-term meant I could properly commit to the journey there and back and know that upon my return to school after 3 days at home and 2 In-Service days, I wouldn’t have to contend with any surprise issues that may have arisen in my absence had I attended mid-term.

The journey North West was incredible – long winding roads, serene colours mirroring the majestic mountains in deep mysterious lochs, through the autumnal valleys of Perthshire (always at its best in Autumn), cross country through The Great Glen and on to Skye. During the week before Columba 1400, I had been listening to Brené Brown, Dare to Lead as a talking book and was amazed at how much I had taken in during my early morning dog walks, pottering in the evenings and and then in the car.

Utilising my car’ s technology I enjoyed a chat with my friend J for a while and then played some of my favourite music selections from Spotify as I crossed the Skye Bridge.

I was excited and knew that committing to full participation was essential, having been advised this could be a life changing experience. Little did I realise that barely 48 hrs from leaving home, I would be sitting up in bed wide awake at 0435 on a clear Tuesday morning in a comfortably appointed coastal lodge, with thoughts pervading just about every nook and cranny of my brain.

My destination is clearer to me know that it has been for years. I have been able to shake off some unpleasant and almost permanently damaging personal and professional incidents to emerge stronger and more determined to become an improved version of myself and a better school leader keen to develop my standards for professionalism.

My aim is that by continuing to engage in collaborative professionalism, reading, dialogue and self reflection I will lead by example and this will empower and encourage teachers and support staff to take opportunities to become the very best version of themselves, and maybe learn to ‘lean into their values’ as I am doing (Brené Brown, Dare to Lead).

Hearing Brené Brown’s definition of Integrity was a pivotal moment for me and finally gave me permission to forgive myself for some of the tougher decisions I have made in life. ‘Integrity: choosing courage over comfort, it’s choosing what’s right over what’s fun, fast or easy; and it’s practicing your values, not just professing them.’ Brené Brown Dare to Lead. I have finally worked out what my true values are: Integrity, Connection and Perseverance. I find this hard to admit but I genuinely didn’t believe I was worthy of naming these values. I didn’t believe in the bluster I professed about wanting to be the best version of myself because in reality I was ‘armoured up and living in shame’ Brené Brown and desperately looking to numb and bury the decades of hurt that have held me back.

When I embarked on my creative journey in April 2018, I could not have imagined what an exciting and fulfilling commitment I was making to myself: floristry, photography and writing. I could not have foreseen then that I could also add my personal and professional values to that list thus re-awakening my inner driver for positive change.

I am excited and more determined than ever to pursue the life that is waiting for me and know that I can do this by holding the virtual hands of Cohort 50.

Values Walk Columba 1400 Staffin

Passing by mirror glazed mysterious lochs

Sugar coated by bracken, burnt ombre aloft

High hopes, and excitement like junior school camp

Camaraderie, giggles and hankies turned damp.

Pour trust in the process we all were assured,

And alight from your life before setting forth.

Tutors will guide you and stay by your side

With numbers so small there’s nowhere to hide.

The Needle, a lookout with the option to view

Hearts, minds and hope becoming renewed

Values, vision, support and challenge align

Embedded, embraced, inspired to refine.

Charli Prime November 2019

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