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Leadership and Self-awareness

An Interview with Vikki Blundell

A phone call responding to my request for stories from our CELF Elevate Programme Alumni started like this.

Hi Tania, it's Vikki Blundell, I would love to tell my story, however I am not sure it is one you want to tell. Intrigued, I asked more questions of Vikki, quickly learning Vikki had many years in leadership roles, with 10 years in the community sector.

Vikki says that the CELF programme awakened her to herself. The profiling and reflective activities, gave her insight into her own skills and uncovered aspects of herself she had not acknowledged or known. Having been involved in the community sector for a long time, professional development was not a priority, and there was certainly a gap in Vikki’s own professional development.

Mindfulness and Leadership

The concept of mindfulness is much talked about, and the here and now “thing”, however to understand mindfulness as part of leadership was a powerful realisation.  That the PAUSE between thought and action was OK in leadership and so too was listening to and using your inner knowing.

Vikki says “I became very aware that I was screaming at myself from somewhere deep inside and truly acknowledging that was a huge step. A personal analysis of what makes me feel most alive, passionate and energised was profound. I knew that committing to creating more of that in my life was going to place me way out of my comfort zone.

So, one could say I was well and truly on a journey. My realisation was that I want to reap the rewards of my own efforts and live my life on my terms.”

“The next thing you know”, said Vikki, “I had resigned from my role as CEO of the Graeme Dingle Foundation Waikato of nearly five years, I rented out my house and bought a 20-day return ticket to Peru.  30 months down the track I now have permanent residency in Peru and am in the process of setting up my own Company.”

My response was WOW!

Vikki said, “you are not the only one. The things I have learned about myself have been deeply profound. I have also found it really interesting to understand the impact of societal pressure. I was surprised about the levels of grief I got from society, sometimes including my own friends and family for the choices I was making for myself.  I discovered I have phenomenal resolve, a deep trust in Life and that I was committed to back myself so that I could stand strong knowing was right for me!”

Well if that’s not learning enough right there, I don’t know what is.

Vikki continued saying “the decision not to come home from Peru required me to totally immerse myself into a new culture where Spanish is the official language and to get innovative and creative so I could sustain myself. 

The Journey Continues

So, I have learnt Spanish, mind you I speak it better than I understand it, which brings an entirely different set of challenges and expectations. I have a new appreciation and understanding of cultural differences and have navigated a foreign business culture, where the norm is not what we would call effective and efficient, so I had to adapt and learn to go with the flow.”

Vikki relocated 4 times in as many months, not only surviving, but thriving. Learning more about the people, place and culture every day.

“You could say I am on a spiritual pilgrimage, said Vikki with some extra challenges along the way, like the false start with my new business, forcing me to wait.  It was during this waiting time that I met some amazing people, discovered special places and continued to learn more about myself.

I have made more friends and gained the trust and confidence of traditional Wisdom Keepers and that has meant I have been privileged with what I have been taught and shared on my journey. Peru is amazing.   So much so, that I would like to share it with others.  So, there was definitely a silver lining to my false start to setting up Picaflor Tours – Spiritual Pilgrimages to Sacred Peru.

There is no doubt I would not be where I am today, had I not participated in the CELF programme.  I am still on an incredible journey of self-discovery.

From a leadership perspective I have had to be creative in finding solutions that enable me to continue my journey, learned to listen to myself and be courageous in my decision making.

And from the people who have so graciously let me into their world, I now know what it means to be a sovereign human being. I have an appreciation of different values, including the interpretation of personal space, private ownership and the sharing of food which are so unlike our NZ culture.  Living in a developing country is an eye-opener. There is so much to learn and appreciate.

I am the richer for my experience, have trust in myself and in life and soon I will have the opportunity to authentically introduce others to this incredible place.”