I attended a Dream Achiever Leadership Camp in the city of Bandung, Indonesia last weekend. The three-day camp was packed tight with enriching activities, attended by 60 participants from Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, Sarawak, Indonesia, Australia and North America.
This year’s camp was unique compared to the one I attended last year in that, the camp’s activities this time were personally designed and conducted by Dream Achiever’s mentor, Mr. Perminderjit Singh.
Each year’s camp activities are specially planned with the current global economic condition and societal need in mind. At last year’s camp held in Malacca, Mr. Perminderjit predicted China’s credit crunch and its impact on economies that supply China with raw materials such as ours. He explained the history behind the Eurozone and China debt crisis, and he prepared us for what was to come this year.
By the time of this year’s camp, his prediction has come true and we are already in the middle of the crisis. Rather than talking about what’s going on – which you can get from reading the news, Mr. Perminderjit helped us overcome our fears and old issues that may be holding us back. As we go through crisis, our repressed fears and issues can surface when the going gets tough. Some people mentally collapse in the middle of a financial crisis not because the situation is too difficult, but there is too much deep-seated negativity that weights them down. Mr. Perminderjit knew this and the need for us to free our minds, so he designed activities that enabled us to recognize our issues and trigger the release of them.
The Dream Achiever leadership camp is about experiential learning. Mr. Perminderjit did not say what I wrote above. But I participated in the activities and did as I was instructed. On hindsight, I understood the underlying purpose.
One mission of the Dream Achiever leadership camp is to train and prepare us to empower ourselves economically. In one of the camp activities this year, each group built a net out of a rope. When the net was completed, everyone in the group held the net and tossed a member into the air three times. The member being tossed shouted his/her dream each time. Guess what I shouted?
FOUNDATION, of course!
The net we built was a representation of life’s financial safety net. Only with a financial safety net in place can we lift ourselves up to attain our dreams. In my case, I need to empower myself financially as I build A Celebration of Life Foundation.
To establish a public, tax deductible humanitarian foundation, I need to acquire millions in funding contributed by third parties to my cause. Even though funds for the foundation’s operation does not come from myself – the foundation’s director, I need to empower myself economically so that I can be free to run the foundation and assist others. I need to lift myself up economically to be an effective head of foundation.
This game also made me aware that I need to be physically and mentally strong to lift others up without falling over by the weight I will carry as head of foundation. I also realized the importance and significance of Trust in order for a team to work. I was not afraid of being tossed in the air, because I enjoy thrills such as roller coasters. What made my heart beat faster was the prospect of holding the net and lifting someone heavier than me. I only weigh 39kg presently. What if a person weighing 60kg and above sits on the net and I fall over? Fortunately that did not happen. I realized that I did not have to worry because I was part of a team. My spine and arms may not be strong, but I can trust my teammates to make up for my weakness. It is important to trust my teammates. If I cannot trust others, I will have doubts even on myself.
In another activity, we played a game that simulated Burke Hedges’ Parable of the Pipeline. I was hesitant to play this game at first because of the lack of balance nerves in my brain. I was concerned that my physical instability might slow my team down or make us lose. But one of the camp’s in-service told me to try. Not wanting to kick up a fuss, I agreed and went ahead. Come what may.
Gladly, I could play the game. I did lose balance a little while rushing from one end of the pipeline to the other, but my teammate Kenrick who was the player in front of me always held my arm and steadied me every time I struggled. For someone who leads a mostly sedentary daily life, this game was very exciting to me. My team consisted of two hot blooded males whose temper boiled easily when they were excited or stressed. I realized that to work in a team with men like these, one needs to accept them the way they are and not take their frustrations personally. Through this game, I learned that to play my part well, I need to be observant of my team players and what they are doing, so that I can adjust and adapt, for our team to produce the desired result. In a team, I cannot just mind my own business. In this game, I learned to adapt and collaborate with others in the team without hearing them, but just by observing them attentively and mindfully.
The Dream Achiever Leadership Camp elicits emotional reactions across the spectrum. There are activities that evoke our dark emotions, games that arouse excitement and happiness, and there are team projects that create camaraderie and laughter.
Towards the end of this camp, each group was instructed to perform a drama on stage depicting real life scenarios in business. My team discussed a lot, but we did not rehearse much. There were so many glitches in our drama, they turned out like unrehearsed humor that caused the audience to laugh till they cried.
When it was announced that my team won, I said to my typist Kenrick. “Our drama so cacat also can win?”
I suppose, this is an example of finding perfection in imperfection.
The Dream Achiever Leadership Camp isn’t big. There are only 60 of us this year. Because of the small size, this camp feels like family. The in-service crew is relaxed and at home as they carry out important duties. In this atmosphere, there is no pretense. Even though every one of us have our own individual financial aspirations and concerns, even though we vary in social exposure and financial standing, but at this camp I feel equality. I am able to observe our differences and diversity. I am able to appreciate our shared humanity.
At this camp, I experience what it means to be human. Because there is no pretense.
Dream Achiever will be having its annual leadership camp in Indonesia again next in the year of 2014. The exact dates have yet to be determined but registration is already open. This upcoming camp’s regular price is USD300.00.
Those who register and pay in full before 31st December 2013 will qualify for the early bird price which is USD200.00.
It includes camp materials, food and lodging. Food and accommodation this year was excellent. We stayed at the Banana Inn Hotel and Spa in Bandung city. It even provided us with free airport transfer and allowed me extended check-out time. Let me know if you want to come for next year’s camp. I am confirmed going!