It is always exciting to get together with like-minded people to discuss issues that we are passionate about such as leadership, self-awareness and purpose. Last Friday, 3rd July 2020, a number of us had an opportunity to do just that at the session organized by Breakthrough Leadership Transformation (BLT). The BLT annual women’s conference dubbed Your Next Best Self is usually a scintillating event where ladies come together to learn under the tutelage of the graceful Dr. Patricia Murugami and other prolific leaders. This year, the March conference had to be postponed due to the COVID pandemic, however, BLT had the generosity of mind to hold an online session for the delegates in July and it was an unforgettable evening of connecting, reflecting and learning.

The workshop was attended by over one hundred and sixty participants from across Kenya, Africa, and the world. It was nice to see familiar names on the call and to reconnect with many post the session. On Refreshing, Patricia asked us to think about how we were refreshing ourselves physically, emotionally, mentally, financially, environmentally, socially, occupationally, intellectually, and spiritually during this season. Judging from the comments, one notorious thing that resonated with many was the issue of sleep. We were encouraged to log off our phones an hour before going to bed and to consider leaving them in another room in order to refresh by reading, journaling, meditating, praying, planning for the next day, and getting much-needed rest. I promised myself that I would do this and I know it will lead to more productivity. Another powerful lesson was that we need to have a ‘Stop-doing’ list which delineates things that we need to stop doing (such as going to bed with our phones and scrolling the night away). This was a novel idea because we always think about to-do lists and not much about the opposite yet both are important.

With regards to Releasing, we were encouraged to consider what we may need to release so that we can be able to move forward. This could be bad habits or grudges, and at this point, we talked about forgiveness – a topic that also got lots of reaction as many delegates shared how difficult forgiving others and oneself is. We may also sometimes need to release expectations so that ‘we can be free to enjoy things for what they are instead of what we think they ought to be’. How liberating! I noted down that I need to release my penchant for perfection as Patricia iterated that we need to aim for excellence not perfection for the pursuit of perfection is often a barrier to actually getting things done. Ultimately, I loved the conclusion that 2020 is not canceled. 2020 is still happening and if we sit back waiting for it to pass or for the crisis to end, we will waste precious time that could have been used to work on becoming our next best selves.

Something that made the session extra enjoyable was the fact that a few were invited ladies to speak briefly on various topics and I was honored to be one of the ones that spoke. I reflected on the recent podcast series by Patricia that I had found to be serendipitously timely in terms of where I am as I launch my Mentorship and Leadership outfit called The Classroom Outside through which I aim to educate, mentor and inspire youth and young adults. So intriguing was the podcast on Retesting, Refining, and Relaunching that I one day went several kilometers beyond where I usually go in my daily walk and only realized it when I saw unfamiliar terrain. It got me thinking about how far we can go in life if we listen to the right messages. One may ask, “When will I ever get time to listen to podcasts?” Well, I listen to podcasts, sermons, and TED talks while walking, driving, and cooking or doing dishes. There is hardly ever a free hour to just sit down as a busy mum, learning-from-home-turned-teacher, wife, career woman and whatever other roles we play; but you can choose to do enjoy nuggets of wisdom while doing other stuff and it is amazing. I also enjoyed the sharing by Dr. Angela Wainaina, a Strategy Specialist and Leadership Coach who talked about the benefits of keeping fit by doing physical activity for thirty minutes every day. Roselyn Muthiora equally inspired us as she spoke about recipes that she is putting together during this season to share with the world. As soon she came on, I noticed her background was very neat and colorful and so when Patricia mentioned that she usually teaches ladies about elevating the home to a happy, restful place, it made sense that her home stood out - what a great way of walking the talk.

In addition to the great conversations and presentations, we had an appreciation segment at the end where we heard from various businesses that had sponsored the event. One lady started to apologize for using the time to sell her business and Patricia generously asked her to please go ahead and pitch. This was very kind because we often talk about elevating other women and what better way to do so than using your platform to raise others. As it turns out, the one and half hours went by so fast that when the session was adjourned it took several minutes before we could ‘leave the meeting’ as we all wanted to just bask in that warmth of having been rejuvenated. I had worn my red scarf and was happy to see other ladies wearing their touches of red too, as the theme had suggested. Beyond our scarves, blouses, and cardigans, the one thing that I know was definitely red with gratitude, renewed energy, and courage as a result of that evening together was our hearts. Thank you very much Dr. Patricia and the BLT Team, you truly revived and refreshed us and we are equipped to refocus. We honor you.