I participated in the Hyper Island Way course last week and shared a video of one of our final Feedback sessions on our Instagram. It was by far the best performing post in a long time, receiving lot’s of love from alumni, students, and collaborators. It seems that no matter how long ago they participated in the course, they still shared powerful memories around the experience. But why is that?
Leadership, Team Development or Personal Growth?
We get this question a lot. On our website, we describe the Hyper Island Way Course as a course to “learn the skills and tools to help you develop your team and company to seize full potential and thrive”. The course – that is mandatory for full-time diploma students – is tailored to individuals who want to empower the teams and organizations around them for the future. The course is based on facilitated reflection sessions, both individually, in small and big groups while adding research-based team development tools to complement the learnings.
While taking the course, I took the opportunity to speak to my fellow participants about their reasons for joining the course. Some people I talked to named the following objectives:
“I was looking to improve my leadership skills.”
“I wanted to update my toolbox in terms of leading a team.”
“I was looking for inspiration on how to drive my efforts more efficiently.”
“I’m hiring several new people and want to make sure my team develops.”
“I have a serious mid-life crisis and needed to change perspective.”
At the end of the last day, all of them said that they had achieved their prospective goals. This shows how many layers of learning this course touches upon and that it really depends on you – the individual – where to take those learnings.
Teaching vs Facilitating
After the first day, several participants seemed confused. When asked to voice their concerns, several commented some alike “I expected more teaching”.
The Hyper Island way of delivering value is based on learning by doing. Hyper Island doesn’t employ teachers and believes in the power of facilitation. This means that tools are introduced as a process, there are rarely right or wrong answers and discussions are lead by participants instead of a teacher. In the case of the Way Course, this also means that there are no slides – tools are introduced during active discussions or by doing, participants are encouraged to take their own notes.
This practice is unusual for most people coming from an academic background and is a big differentiation factor when comparing to other courses tailored to professionals. However, during the final reflections on day 3, several participants emphasized how positively surprised they were about the course’s effectiveness. One participant that was skeptical towards the facilitation process throughout the first day said that “Hyper Island won him over”. As an Academic myself, I was extremely grateful to experience the Hyper Way of learning as it adds value in a unique way.
Self-Leadership as the Key to Success
When my colleague talks to potential students that are interested in one of our programs, he often says “You could get anything out of this program. If you want to work hard and trust in the process, you will be able to add great value to your career. If you don’t, then you might leave with nothing in the end.” What sounds like a half-critical sales pitch proves true even during the 3-day short Hyper Island Way Course.
From Minute one, participants need to engage with each other to learn from each other. However, as there are no teachers, no performance goals and no measurement of success, nobody will evaluate your effort. The only reason for you to participate is because you want to. This is a big difference to other types of education and unconventional for many business professionals – we’re used to having our performance measured at any given time. Most of us rarely need to practice Self-Leadership, as we have clear KPIs and deadlines. Being in a situation where the success completely depends on ourselves is new to us. Not only do we need to define what “success” actually means in this context, we also need to decide what to do to achieve it. There is something extremely motivating in this process – leaving measuring behind, we are forced to focus on our own values and beliefs.
One of my biggest takeaways from doing the Hyper Island Way course, therefore, is a strong need to combine my organization’s goals with my own, to maybe add additional goals or question certain numbers.
The Power of Reflection
Experienced based learning doesn’t work if you don’t understand and draw conclusions from the experienced. How many times have you had an aha-moment weeks, months or even years after experiencing something just because you never took the time to sit down and think about the experience? I can surely say, I’ve missed out on some important learnings just by a lack of reflection.
Life is fast. Being an introvert myself, I often feel the need to digest certain interactions and to take a step back from things I’ve experienced. When I find the time, I do sometimes unconsciously reflect, maybe write something on my blog or talk to someone about it. However, this rarely happens on a daily basis or in a professional context. During the Hyper Island Way Course, however, you reflect a lot. So much even, that you might get irritated.
But why is reflection such a core practice in this course? Reflection is the foundation of critical thinking. And some argue that critical thinking is the only way we can truly learn from an experience. You could ask yourself “What happened that affected me?”, “How do I feel about this?”, or “What can I learn from this?” You’d be surprised how many things will come to mind if you take a few minutes to think about an experience. I sure was.
There are many ways to reflect on things. One exercise from the course that stuck to me was writing down the 10 things that I value most (10 Minutes) and then getting first 30 seconds to take away three and then twice 20 seconds more to take away another two of them. I was left with 3 values that surprised me at first, but after reflecting on them, perfectly represented my personality, priorities, and practices. A powerful tool to regain focus on what matters to you.
Feedback to feel good
Another core element of the Hyper Island Way Course is giving (and receiving!) feedback. Even though most (if not all) of the people participating in the course will be strangers to you, there is an immense power in delivering and receiving feedback to people. As a part of the course deals with defining personality types and presenting things that shaped you, you are able to build a stable foundation for human understanding. You connect with people on a less superficial level and are actually able to deliver meaningful feedback to them – even if you’ve only known them for a few hours.
As manifesting the power of Feedback is one of Hyper Island’s core values, we were introduced to many different ways of delivering feedback during the course. For me, this did not only boost my confidence but also helped me trust in others more – an important step for any team’s development.
At the center of it all…
…are you. Only if you know and understand your own behaviors, will you be able to open up to your team members. Only once you understand where they’re coming from, will you be able to achieve top performance levels.
The Hyper Island Way Course really manages to communicate this and will leave you with plenty of tools to update your practices, a better sense of self and will certainly help you become a better leader and team-player. The unconventional ways this course is delivered will make it a memorable experience and maybe that’s why the video from the course I shared on Instagram showing one of the feedback methods was received so well.
Plus, Spoiler Alert, you’ll probably have a hard time not staying in touch with fellow participants.