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Cross the Line


Last weekend I had the pleasure of working with Rich and Yvonne Dutra-St. John, the founders of ‘Challenge Day’. You might know the most impactful part of their intervention programme in schools: ‘Cross the Line’ (‘Over de Streep’). Rich and Yvonne offered a 3-day workshop “Be the Change” with plenty of inspiration to last me a life time.

In their extensive experience with risk youth and addiction, the couple discovered they were working with the symptoms instead of the root of problems. Ever since, their mission is to break down the walls of separation and loneliness. Rich and Yvonne have been doing so successfully for 30 years with hundreds of thousands of children across the world.

Separation and loneliness in business – 2 examples

These subjects are highly relevant at school, for children, but surely just as real among professionals within the business context. I often encounter leaders who isolate themselves because they assume they can’t burden their team with their worries or due to the thought ‘they don’t know what I’m going through at this level.’ As a result the connection is lost and a self-fulfilling prophecy is inevitable. The lack of trust that comes out of this, does absolutely nothing for the collaboration within the organization.

Another example. Last year I worked with a team in which no one took a break together, ever. Personal stories were not something to be shared. For a while this wasn’t such a problem until a re-structering within the company caused an increasing work pressure. Colleagues would distance themselves from each other which resulted in a decreasing level of trust and understanding for professional struggles, let alone personal hardships. Another downward spiral situation came to light.

Inspiration @”Be the Change”

During the 3-day workshop we received lots of inspiration how to break through loneliness and separation – applicable in change processes within organizations. Here, I would like to give you a taste with 3 basic insights.

Share what happens below the waterline. We often suppress our true feelings, fears, doubts ánd our happiness and appreciation. Yet, the more intimate, the more universal. The more we show and get to know ourselves, the more we discover our feelings and thoughts are actually not that strange and very similar to others. While we do so, we get to know and understand our colleagues which has a highly positive impact on trust.

Involve Body, Mind, Heart, Spirit. At school and certainly at work, we generally involve the first two levels (body and mind). True growth and involvement though, as we all know, happens when we feel good and inspired or passionate. Rich and Yvonne reminded us how we all remember the teachers who inspired us and made us feel safe and wanted; not the teachers who presented the highest amount of knowlegde. Or as Aristotle put it: ‘Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.’ My belief is that the same goes for leaders and leading. Only when you are able to touch your employees, are you able to make a connection and get the true results.

Notice, Choose, Act. Once we feel good, we can take in new information (e.g. feedback) and become more aware. We notice our own behaviour and then have the ability to choose how to act. In the words of Rich and Yvonne: ‘Notice, Choose, Act’. This is when taking responsibility for your actions is possible and you can, for instance, give a real ‘yes’ or no’ answer, an honest choice. It is often underestimated how this affects true connection within a group of professionals.

Once in a while I organize a “Cross the Line’ session with a team. Not necessarily with a focus on addiction or bullying but as a lively, new way to get to know each other and acknowledge differences or similarities. If you would like more information about “Be the Change” or other interventions to create true trust and connection, don’t hesitate to be in touch.


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