With thirty years of experience facilitating global corporations and coaching senior executives, our CEO, Thom Dennis noticed a critical leadership issue many at the top are failing to address. This led him and branding expert, Christina Courtright Jenkins to create Leading Through the Void – a unique retreat to expose unconscious drivers, which enables increased leadership capacity and influence.
The Wall Street Journal published an article by psychologist, Meg Jay, who discussed why high achievers have often experienced childhood trauma. Jay mentioned a study that found 75% of 400 high achievers have experienced significant trauma in childhood. This includes abuse, the loss of a parent and poverty.
Due to the resilience a child must build to navigate pain, they can become much better equipped to handle setbacks and failures, helping them to climb to the C-Suite. But while childhood trauma is a significant success driver, it is not always clear what encourages people to become senior executives or a CEO.
Thom has found leaders can continually acquire wealth and power without ever feeling fulfilled or satisfied and it creates what he describes as a void – an emptiness inside which manifests as a powerful driver. ”The void could arise as a result of a cutting comment from childhood, from school or because of parental neglect. Ambitious people are driven but the drivers can be unconscious, so many people spend their life wondering what it’s all about or have no idea. People may not actually be in control of their lives, they’re just trying to satisfy or live up to some comment that could have been made when they were quite small.’
Trauma and negative experiences including verbal comments may positively impact success, but not understanding how it connects to an overachieving mindset can be corrosive. Thom says, “The most important aspect of leadership today and tomorrow is self-awareness. The more self-aware the leader is, the better the decisions they make and the more they can relate with other people through empathy and a willingness to be vulnerable.”
Having worked with various people in positions of power, Thom believes low self-awareness paired with unhealed childhood trauma can lead to dysfunctional leadership and toxic cultures. Leaders can struggle with delegation, trust, expressing compassion and empathy, and showing vulnerability. They may have issues with flexibility, being aware of their behaviours and body language, and demonstrating the transparency that people now expect from those in charge. They may feel misunderstood, burnt out, or like nothing really matters. To help leaders move past their dissatisfaction and this lack of fulfilment, Thom and Christina created ‘Leading Through the Void’ – a retreat designed to take leaders on a journey of self-exploration and discovery.
Christina has led several successful retreats and has been involved in diverse industries guiding businesses, teams and individuals to uncover their authenticity. Thom has spent decades facilitating large projects and teams worldwide. Both Christina and Thom have themselves attended a whole range of retreats. Thom has explored many parts of the world during his time in the Royal Marines, and having attended two retreats at Villa Sumaya on the shores of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, he is confident this is the ideal location for Leading Through the Void; a place where leaders can explore themselves and cultivate a mindset of greater awareness and serenity.
“It’s also important to bring money into one of the poorest countries in the world; the people are lovely, the food is very good, and it’s a stunning location with volcanoes around the lake. A pretty special place – you can’t get there by road, only by boat”, he says.
In the remote and majestic paradise of Lake Atitlan, which is home to many people of Mayan descent, Villa Sumaya sits with over 20 acres of lakefront to explore. The luxury venue provides nature, peace and wellbeing facilities to help people find space for deep reflection.
“Leading Through The Void really is giving people an opportunity to explore what their unconscious drivers are, and to come to a kind of peace with them. It will give you a space to open yourself up to your inner wisdom and voice. That’s so important but difficult to do in this world where there is so much noise”, says Thom.
The retreat will begin each morning with a mindfulness practice such as yoga and meditation, and continue with experiential activities, coaching, and workshops. The retreat will provide plenty of space to journal, enjoy the facilities, rest, reflect, and wander through nature.
Thom and Christina have partnered with Tobie Spears, founder of BeHumanitarian.org, a non-profit organization that supports a quiet community near Lake Atitlan. Be Humanitarian has a preschool and nutrition program that runs all year long and regularly welcomes volunteers into the community to experience a small glimpse of life in a developing country. She will be hosting an afternoon of service during the retreat where we will have the opportunity to do a service project with the local community, deliver donations and leave knowing that the community is better off than when we arrived. Tobie brings local knowledge to leaders interested in stepping away from their daily pressures to understand the importance of paying it forward.
Why a leadership retreat?
While Leading Through the Void is designed for leaders looking to create and lead with balance and fulfilment, the retreat ultimately caters to any person who wants to really understand themselves and their leadership style.
It is for people who want to learn how to live and lead from a place of authenticity, integrity and resilience, deepen their self-awareness to navigate uncertainty with effectiveness and improve their emotional stability. Benefits include more clarity in decision-making, liberation from conditioning, enhanced leadership skills, new energy and a deeper sense of purpose – knowing how to be a positive and empowering leader.
Research from The National Library of Medicine found that retreat experiences can ‘lead to improved cognitive function with improved measures of task-based executive attention’. Further analysis found retreats located in natural environments ‘result in enhanced physical, mental, social, and spiritual health.’
“Retreats are deliberately set up to protect you from yourself as much as possible, which you can’t do at home. It takes you out of routine and the need to do something. We have created a space for you to become a human being again instead of a human doing. We offer the self-discipline that is so difficult for most people to adopt day-to-day with a regulated routine. Today it’s about leading with authenticity – we’re in an environment where certainty is in short supply – the more that you can be flexible and agile, the easier it is to lead”, says Thom.
If you are struggling to find satisfaction despite your success, if you are interested in connecting with like-minded people to experience jointly a range of experiential activities, to uncover what drives you, or if you are seeking to boost your abilities as a leader, Leading Through the Void will help you achieve these goals and transform your way of thinking and leading.
Taking place this September 24th to September 30th, find out the full details via Leadingthroughthevoid.com or directly contact Thom via email: firstname.lastname@example.org