The Inner Compass Difference
Through my business Inner Compass, I work with leaders to create positive, powerful shifts that last – shifts in behaviour, attitude, thinking, and feeling. We do this through an exceptional experiential education approach.
Experiential education means
“learning through action, with reflection.”
In practice this means that the individual engages in out-of-norm experiences to challenge thinking and behaviour; with guidance by an experienced facilitator (that’s me!), they reflect on their attitude, their reactions, and outcomes and develop new insights and approaches for enhanced results.
Because the experiences are deeply personal with emotional impact, the learning sinks deeply in to the individual’s consciousness and anchors new positive approaches more readily.
In my work with leaders I have found, and the research shows, that experiential education programs are the fastest and most effective way to develop group dynamics, build trust, create open honest, authentic communication – the ideal conditions for intensive learning and development.
What experiential education looks like in Inner Compass group leadership development programs:
Every group leadership development program begins with an outdoor challenge-based experience. Typically this involves a series of group problem-solving activities in a journey-based format.
I am primarily interested in HOW the participants approach the challenges, and not so much WHAT they do specifically.
The HOW focuses on their planning, discussion, problem-solving, team management, safety management, and group morale.
The WHAT is the content of the activity. Activities are designed to be intellectually challenging rather than physically difficult – participation of all ages and abilities is a key part of the Inner Compass approach. Activities may include clue-hunts, practical hands-on projects, and even outdoor adventure activities such as short bushwalks and abseiling.
The group goes through distinct stages in the program:
1. Experimentation: this is a trial and error process of working through approaches to challenges, discovering strengths and weaknesses in leadership and management approach
2. Application: With feedback from peers and facilitators, the individual applies their learning to new scenarios for further experimentation
3. Consolidation: A key major activity gives the individuals and group the opportunity to apply their learning from all activities to achieve a group and individual success.
4. Application: Reflection, personal journal time, feedback, and debriefing prepares the individual for return to ‘normal’ life – with a plan for integrating new behaviour, approaches, and thinking.
The setting for outdoor experiential education programs
I believe that mental and emotional shifts occur more readily and easily in environments that are simple and inspiring. Beautiful remote or rural settings enhance the learning experience for all. Inspiring outdoor vistas promote expansive thinking and encourage focus on possibilities.
Physical and emotional safety of all participants are paramount and emphasised as a key responsibility of all throughout the program.
Outdoor challenge based activities are provided in partnership with a professional outdoor-challenge-based company with over 20 years experience delivering outdoor programs. All facilitators are trained in first aid, risk management, all activity-specific skills and facilitation skills.
I personally have over 25 years experience in outdoor challenge based programs: I have guided remote wilderness canoe trips for 7 summers in Canada, including 3 week and 6 week canoe trips, managed this wilderness program for 2 summers. I then spent 10 years at Outward Bound Australia – first as an outdoor instructor, and then as Training Director, establishing the nationally accredited and nationally awarded instructor training program, the Outward Bound Internship. I continued to facilitate outdoor challenge based programs as part of my work in designing and delivering leadership programs at the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation. I have a Diploma in Outdoor Recreation and a Certificate IV in Assessment and Training.
FAQs about Experiential Education
Is this a gung-ho, military-style, survivor-type program?
No. The program is challenging – from a social, intellectual, and emotional perspective. Though there are some physical aspects of the program, the activities are designed so that there is no discrimination in participation based on age, sex, or physical ability.
Is the program hard?
The activities may be uncomfortable – for all sorts of personal emotional or social reasons; they are designed this way to encourage exploring personal boundaries, perspectives, and thinking patterns that may be limiting personal and group success.
How is the emotional safety of participants assured?
Experienced facilitators are with the group at all times to support and encourage a safe learning environment for all. Participation in activities is by choice – no one is forced to do any of the activities against their will. Chatham House rule applies – every thing said is confidential and no one may attribute opinions or personal stories of others outside the group.
Experiential education in the classroom
Inner Compass leadership development programs use experiential approaches and adult learning principles in more formal settings. Specifically, programs are interactive, relevant, cater to different learning styles and needs, and are directly applicable to their personal and workplace situations. Workshops include discussions, group activities, scenarios.
Experiential education in coaching
Though coaching is often conversational, the Inner Compass approach that I use also includes numerous kinaesthetic activities to embed new beliefs, concepts, and strategies. Coaching also includes many assessments, debriefs, and personalised action plans.
If you are interested in a powerful, breakthrough program that delivers real shifts in behaviours, attitudes, and leadership capability, please contact me to explore what might be possible for you and your team. Group leadership development programs are customised and designed to deliver your specific outcomes. Through a complimentary Leadership Strategy Session we can map out your leadership goals and strategies to get there.