Time and Again - Whidbey Institute

It felt like a fallow field, when Heather first started talking with me about joining the notorious POL cohort. To be honest, my first reaction was not overwhelming excitement. I dug my proverbial heels into the ground. After all, I’d done leadership conferences before. What more could there be? What could be so amazing about this one? I don’t have time for that kind of self-indulgent work anyhow.

But the seed was planted, and I allowed myself to take a closer look and feel more fully into my hesitation. It came from a place near the belly and it felt like fear. I knew if I took this on, I’d have to do the work. I’d have to challenge myself to move beyond the current comfortable operating system I’d been coasting in and shift-up my being in the world. I’d have to explore into unknown, uncomfortable territory and take a risk. Was there another voice in my head that could be braver than the first?

The roots really took hold when I spoke with Christie about what my engagement in the program would look like. Christie has a clarity about her that makes vulnerability feel beautiful. She asked why I wanted to participate. I still remember the surge I felt, when out loud, I reminded myself: because I want to be a better person. Because I know I can’t do that alone.

For me, the Institute’s commitment to the great work over the long haul isn’t just about marking the passing of each decade. It isn’t just about having more programs in closer alignment with our mission. The commitment to the great work is first and foremost a commitment to oneself. It starts with each of us declaring active participation in the evolution of our individual human consciousness, so that we may collectively grow stronger.

And so it was that in the fall of 2012 my journey began to (re)sprout, breaking through the nourishing underground to live more fully in the bright open world. I can still feel the sun and smile on my face when Craig led us through our morning movement practice. The warmth inspired by the soft intonations of Christie’s voice as she shared with the group one of her poems. The wonders of the swamp walk with Larry, learning not just about the nature of the nature that surround us, but of our inner world, too.

It was with this fusion of art, environment, and most importantly – camaraderie within the cohort – that I moved through one of the most wonderfully exceptional years of my life. The arc of metaphor created both a deeply shared experience, and one that was uniquely my own. I am so grateful for the opportunity, the growth, the friendships and the insights shared. I now understand why Powers of Leadership is a core program here at the Institute, and why so many people, over so many years, have come to revere it the way I now do.

—Allison Tongate

October 1, 2013

People & Partners