Why Accelerate, a Coaching-based Conference for Women in Travel, Brings Personal Breakthroughs
As working women, we were often told – mostly by men-- to check our emotions at the door…and that feelings had no place in business, especially if you aspired to a leadership role. Yet, no matter how hard I tried to suppress or ignore them, deep inside I always had a “feeling” that was bullshit! And it was!
To quote me from a column I wrote last year on this very topic, “Upon reading the article, Empathy Is The Most Important Leadership Skill According To Research, on Forbes.com, I blurted out, “It’s about effing’ time!”
Feelings, emotions, instinct, and intuition do have great value, especially when you give yourself permission to have them, and then manage them in a positive way. Developing great leadership skills does indeed start within ourselves…a lesson I continue to learn each time I participate in Accelerate Women Leaders in Travel, and this year was no exception.
At last year’s retreat – my first – I was invited as a panelist and participated in all the workshops. Not really knowing what to expect, I gave myself over to the experience and came away transformed, as well as with another column titled You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know. Shortly thereafter, I was invited to join the board of advisors and jumped at the opportunity.
Accelerate’s mission - to provide a transformative retreat experience and network for women leaders in travel—is rooted in professional development, knowledge and relationship building, and the curation of content and retreat participation specifically geared towards the identified needs of this growing community. By creating a safe, non-judgmental environment, the retreat coaches and organizers encourage women to embrace and share their emotions…and in so doing, create an incredible sense of intimacy, empowerment, and community.
Respecting the personal experiences of the 70 retreat attendees, the highlights I’m about to share are mine alone:
Day 1 Workshops included: EQ and Emotional Agility, Leading with Empathy, Navigating Life’s 4 Domains and Crowd Sourcing Exercises. One of the most extraordinary aspects of these coach-led exercises is their sharing of incredibly personal stories and emotions, which opens the door for participants to do the same. Which I did!
Afterward, I hosted Cocktails & Conversation with Robin Moncrieffe, co-host of the award-winning podcast, Don’t Look Under the Bed. While not a fan of the term “it factor,” if anyone’s got it, it’s Robin! OMG…we had a ball!!! Accelerate’s founder, Rachel Vandenberg wrote in a Linked-in post, “This was a moment I'll savor...getting real about hospitality, lots of laughter, wisdom and an all-around good time with these two ladies Robin Moncrieffe and Nancy Mendelson.” Thanks, Rachel…me too!
Day 2’s workshops included: Navigating the Different Mindsets of a Leader, Sharing Best Practices, and Peer Group Coaching. It was on this day I learned about Crucible Moments - a transformative experience through which an individual comes to a new or an altered sense of identity. These are times of adversity when our character is tested, and great strength is demonstrated.
It took a nano-second for me to share my crucible moment, which happened about 7 years ago, and dramatically affected my self-esteem and the trajectory of my life. While I thought I had put it behind me and moved on, no one was more surprised than I was when I burst into tears and could barely catch my breath. In short, I had done everything right and ended up being punished for it, because the major investor had been dishonest about his intentions for the company. Had it involved only me I might have moved forward faster, but I was responsible for a loyal and dedicated team of extraordinary people who also did everything right. Ugh…in recounting the story I was right back there… and the pain was as fresh as it was 7 years ago.
The support from both coaches and the community was absolutely extraordinary. The fact that I felt safe enough to lose my sh*t in a room full of virtual strangers spoke volumes about the value of the retreat experience…and I can honestly say I have now put that crucible moment behind me.
Day 2 also included a terrific segment, Mindfulness for Workaholics with Emily Penfold Dailey…a woman who really knows how to own an audience through the sheer power of spirit and body of knowledge. Lots of great takeaways and actions I have already implemented.
Much of the beauty of the Accelerate experience lies in the diversity of participant career paths and life stages, while at the same time creating a palpable sense of agelessness and equality. Something we can use a lot more of.
By placing EQ – emotional intelligence—among the hierarchy of our values, we not only become better leaders, but better human beings.