Art & Culture Business

How to elevate your life and leadership skills

Words by Natasha Silva-Jelly

30 June 2020


When former advertising CEO and strategist Will Travis found his high flying friends lamenting the fact that they’d smashed through the ceiling, but had no idea what to do next, he suggested a brainstorming session, which he dubbed: “Sort your shit out” (pardon the French). It was during the session that Travis - who had helped to elevate such globally renowned brands as Apple, Coca-Cola and Toyota - realised that he too needed to sort out where his true passions lay. “All of us need support in life with our confidence and sense of purpose”, says Travis, who founded the Elevation Barn. It’s a four-day retreat- style programme that unites six diverse business leaders in epic private country homes throughout upstate New York, Bali, Indonesia, Park City, Utah, and London. The vision is to help leaders gain clarity over their true self and path, so that they can be more impactful in their own lives and communities. Instead of coaches, ‘brand builders’ take them through a highly intensive personal elevating process, which applies techniques that have been adopted by the world’s most powerful product and service brands.

Be the real you and not the façade…

Take off that disguise. We often create a persona that presents who we think we should be, but not who we really are. We may be a leader with a highly successful job, a loyal team and a lucrative salary, but we start to reach a point where we feel guilty or shallow, and are left wondering who the real ‘me’ is. We question our real purpose in this world. The Elevation Barn retreats offer leaders an intimate process to define and refine their true values, and discover their authentic self - or north star. The impact of being the ‘real you’, for yourself, your teams and your communities is totally transformative, and many well-respected businesses and their leaders now realise the impact this open and honest approach can have on their business and personal growth. Take Patagonia’s CEO and founder Yvon Chouinard for example, a leader who decided to openly promote his real values through his company’s voice and actions, and to make Patagonia achieve far more respect than a simple producer of outdoor clothing, and also be seen as a leader, uniting outdoor enthusiasts in a bid to safeguard the beautiful lands we love to explore.

Look back and recognise what truly makes you happy…

Key to becoming your authentic self is taking time in rediscovering and celebrating what truly makes you happy. But stopping to look back and recognise those moments is rare. We more than often ignore the past and focus on new and exciting experiences, and this insatiable appetite for the new requires a great deal of emotional, financial and time investment. When we do take the time to look back, and recognise what really makes us happy, we soon discover many of the answers are there. It could be just the simple pleasure of being outside, walking down tree-lined lanes with a friend, or sitting by a fire with a good book and a drink. It could be a hot bubble bath, or a daily phone call with those you love. Whatever it is, try and give time to those proven pleasures, rather than dismiss them to find something else, for the sake of trends or peer pressure.

Invest time to define your north star…

Once you have defined your values and what makes you happy in life, you can now define your north star. A crisp north star process allows you to really assess your powers and dreams and condense that purpose into a simple one-sentence definition. It will help you clarify who you are really doing this all for; what you bring to that person or group; why what you bring makes a difference, and through what means you can deliver to make that difference. If you are not authentic and honest in defining the “why” you are here, it becomes extremely hard to decide what you should do with your life. And while you are wondering what you should do, life is slipping you by. The day you discover what your real gift is to the world, is the day you start making an impact.

Ensure you have four legs on your stool of life…

Many leaders live crazy lives and find very little time to invest in anything but their jobs. But we all know what happens if we spend all our energy on that job; the other key things fall away and are often lost. By investing planned time into the other three dimensions of your life: friends and family, health and wellness, and personal growth, the business side of your life becomes well supported. And if a dramatic change occurs in your business, you can stay upright and recover, without losing the rest of your world in one go.

Share your dreams out loud…

When you share your dreams and aspirations with others, you have far more chance of seeing them through than if you keep them in your head. By vocalising what you want to achieve in life with a trusted group, you not only gain the support of those you tell; you gain their unique perspective on how you can get there, and how to overcome the obstacles blocking you. In addition, and most importantly, the more you hear yourself talk of these dreams, the more you become committed and reassured that you can achieve them - and backing out will seem just an unfortunate loss of an opportunity. On the counter side, if you find the people you normally share your dreams with are prone to shoot them down, take them and share them as their own, or if they tend to ignore them without a care for you and what you want, then get those people out of your life and bring in people who help you grow instead.

Create 3 to-do lists...

Prioritising in business, especially when you are a leader, is a tough enough challenge. And so to help you do this more effectively, instead of making one master action list, make three – a ‘must do now’ list, a ‘not urgent but must do’ list with dates, and a ‘this can go on the backburner’ list, until you do have time. By segregating all of your actions into these three piles, your actions will become clearer and more impactful; your mind will feel calmer and less impatient, and instead of thinking you have 120 things to do, you will realise you only have 10 urgent things to do today, and you will do them with more attention to detail to make results really happen.

Stand back from the wall...

Over the next few years, we will all go through some form of highly disruptive time. It may be the loss of a loved one, a business failure, a market disruption, an illness. Hopefully none of the above, but most likely one, if not more of them. The key is to have friends who can help pull you back from the walls, to see how you can climb over, climb under, or climb around them. The more we understand how to get past these walls, the less time we spend at their face. It really is the power of ‘we’, not ‘I’ that makes the difference in life, and so invest the time in others, show you care and value others, and they will invest the time and value you.

Elevation Barn offers curated retreats in Bali, upstate New York and, soon to be London, uniting and empowering industry leaders through shared perspectives and personal growth. Quintessentially is planning to partner with Elevation Barn on a series of upcoming retreats, so contact your lifestyle manager for more information.

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