Recharge 2019: Thinking Broadly and Harnessing Courage

Posted December 3, 2019 in Alumni Exchange, Latest News & Insights

By Leah Parkhill-Reilly, Program Director

We spent the morning honing in on courage because that’s a critical element in building the energy to push boundaries and be limitless. Courage is what enables you to push to the other side of fear, to move past the discomfort and reframe the current state. It’s what allows one to tap into the possible and maybe see the opportunities that may be hidden to others.

So, with that as context, what does an on-air radio personality have in common with a retired executive who now consults to organizations about the applications for AI? On the surface, not a ton, but both Josie Dye from Indie 88.1 and Eugene Roman, a former executive from Canadian Tire, shared stories of dealing with adversity, thinking broadly, harnessing courage and reframing challenge into possibility.

Ready for Luck

In Josie’s case, she had to deal with a deeply embarrassing moment, I mean, crushingly, career-limiting embarrassing. I can’t fully do the moment justice in print but the abbreviated version is that Josie’s morning show at the time, suggested she undertake a number of “bucket list” challenges. After saying “no” to the first two suggestions, she went forward with the third suggestion of singing the national anthem in front of 35,000 spectators at the Air Canada Centre. You can probably guess how well it went. We only needed to see 20 squirm-inducing seconds to feel instant empathy. Actually, it was worse than just the moment, as in this age of digital everything has the potential to go viral, and it did.

What was phenomenal was hearing how Josie moved rapidly to control the narrative. Of course, she went through a weekend shame spiral first but then reframed this into a new possibility. She epitomized the theme of the morning, harnessing courage, taking a deeply embarrassing moment and capitalizing on it. She sold the video to America’s Funniest Home Videos, she talked about it openly on air, she wrote about it, she owned the moment in the fullest way.

She used a failure not as a slippery slope down but as a stepping stone up.

As her mom told her, “Josie, you’ve got to be ready for luck” and she absolutely was ready. It pushed her to be more confident, to ask for things she wouldn’t have asked for before and to be willing to try (because after that experience, what’s the worst that can happen).

Catalyst for Change

Our second speaker for the session took the theme of “Harnessing Courage to Think Broadly” in a different direction entirely. Eugene shared his unique thoughts on how to survive and prosper in the hyper-connected world relating a career path that has moved him from Nortel to Bell, from Open Text to Canadian Tire. What I found fascinating in the talk, aside from the full creation of new words (“Bot-tastic” anyone?) was that Eugene assumed the mantle of “disruptor” in every organization. He truly was an intrapreneur in organizations, actively identifying opportunities to innovate and invent and pushing the limits of the corporate boundaries bending all but breaking no rules.

What I took away from the conversation was that within corporations one can be a catalyst for change. While he didn’t go deeply into it, and perhaps that’s another conversation, what I do know about Eugene is that he has a unique ability to create a coalition of deeply committed leaders also willing to be courageous and push the corporate boundaries.

While they shared very divergent experiences both speakers exhibited a remarkable growth mindset; swinging from set-back and challenge and repositioning it to opportunity and potential. They both were their authentic selves and shared a unique perspective on harnessing courage.

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