This is an archived blog from when I ran Conscious Public Relations Inc. from 2008-2018. Excuse the potential outdated-ness!

I am honoured to have volunteered at yesterday’s The Art Of Leadership Conference held here in Vancouver. It was my first time attending an Art Of conference and the event did not disappoint. In fact, it was one of the most well-organized and inspiring events I’ve been to yet.

Gretchen Rubin, most known for authoring The Happiness Project, talked about her new research about her theory of the 4 personality traits: Upholders, Obligers, Questioners, and Rebels. She claims that most people in the world are either obligers or questioners. Although she hasn’t yet worked with an organization whose employees have ALL taken the quiz to assess themselves, she says it’s not simply about trying to get along with others who have a different tendency than you are, but finding out what’s most important to them. I like that she kicked off the day by saying that if we can self-lead, then we have a greater chance of leading others.

Captain Richard Phillips – most known for inspiring the Oscar-nominated movie, Captain Phillips, recounted his take of being taken hostage by Somali pirates at sea. Not only was he a great speaker, but he demonstrated unfailing commitment as a leader by sacrificing his life for his crew.

Having met Marshall Goldsmith very briefly and not known anything about his work, I was surprisingly pleased by his knowledge, research, and sense of humour. Not only did he provide practical advice on what people could start doing TOMORROW that could show us patterns about how we act for a period of a week (or month), but he got people talking to each other and demonstrating the need for support and help. Gone are the days when leaders are expected to know it all.

Dr. Liane Davey talked more about organizational leadership and the 5 toxic team environments. I found a lot of her points to be true, and she recommended that someone read her blog “How to work for an insecure leader”. She also has a few blogs describing how to work for other types of leaders. Although I don’t think that bosses should be labelled in that way, I do think that it would be worth reading to see how you could potentially act in a work situation that won’t get you misrepresented, or worse, fired.

!!! Yes, I was just as speechless when I met Col. Hadfield.

Finally, Col. Chris Hadfield blew us all away with stories of how he prepared not only for his career as an astronaut and eventually the Commander of an International Space Station in 2013, but also how he and his crew mates spent 4.5 years preparing for all possible “failure” situations that could happen on their mission, learning new skills that might become handy (Hadfield speaks fluent French), and getting to know one another. In a career where the greatest chance of dying is in the first 9 minutes of a half-year mission, you had better be comfortable with imagining how to deal with situations that might put your life in danger. And most of us probably fret about what we have to do tomorrow.

One of my favourite lines of the day from Hadfield was something to the effect of “Success on the first try is a bad habit.” Most of us spend our lives trying to be perfect, when really we should be trying to fail. Lots of business articles talk about this. Failing fast, and often. And I’m glad this was a strong message because true leadership isn’t about being perfect or right all of the time, but doing the best we genuinely can as we fail. And teaching others what we have learned.

I don’t think my company, my film festival, or I would be at the level we are at because I did things perfectly; they are because I have failed, but learned to pivot and keep moving forward.

Bravo to all involved for a stellar event and for helping us all become more conscious leaders.

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