Bali Untamed: Executive Coach Diary

The Adventure of a Life Time

NOTE: This post is laid out backward. You will see the most current post first… Also, I’ll be reporting on my adventure through the lens of leadership learning along with some typical tourist discovery. Onward… DAY 2: Went to see our first BIG temple today. Bali has over 10,000 temples. So many that the Balinese government doesn’t even try to count them all. They are tucked in everywhere. It is proper to wear a sarong and a sleeved shirt to the temple. I had an interesting thing happened at the temple today. On our way there, we had to buy sarong for those of us who didn’t have one. And even with a skirt on, a woman is expected to wear a more traditional sarong over the skirt. I didn’t mind, cause it was a great excuse to buy stuff. As I tied my sarong over my shorts, Issac said “Mai, could you make your sarong longer. You still look too sexy.” I said “yes of course” thinking that the monks at the temple would disapproved, so I better follow his instructions. Well when we got to the temple, it was completely empty. NO ONE was there. So why does it matter if I look sexy or not. I pondered over that exchange all day…. Isn’t it interesting that it is so ingrained in his psyche and he is so committed to the tradition and beliefs that he honors the code even though no one was there to enforce it? I got to really see how my mind works. I would do the sarong thing only because I didn’t want to get some negative external feedback. But I wouldn’t do it if it was up to me to monitor myself. I got to thinking “where else do i do that in my life?” and “what is the impact of that self proclaimed freedom?” I am truly intrigued by these two questions. On one hand I love my ability to break out of rules and have so much self possessed freedom. But on the other hand, I wonder what I am missing by not honoring the code of my community? Everywhere we go in Bali, there are these gathering places called “Banjar.” They are like the community halls in small town America, except that they are open air. They have community meetings regularly, where each family sends at least one person to have their say. Here they decide on all community matters, from how to manage water for all the rice fields, to funeral arrangements and festival activities. Everyone participates and everyone takes the role that they are best at. Tradition and culture are honored. So my pondering applies here. This society works because there is an inherent value that they honor. The value that has them self governed to behave properly even though no one is watching. And that is what makes this indigenous culture still function today even though it is constantly being edged away by progress and new sets of values (like freedom and individualism, etc…) But in the West, we struggle with our set of modern values, which tends to honor individuality and self preservation over community value and self regulation. I woke up with one more layer of pondering on this subject. i was thinking about this from the difference between Vienamese and Balinese cultural stand point. I am going to generalize in a big way. Vietnamese people are very resourceful and rebellious. (That was how we survived 4000 years of Chinese domination, then French colonization, and ultimately won the Vietnam War against the world dominant super power.) We will break or find ways around every rule handed down to us. And Vietnamese community meetings tend to end up with lots of arguing individual points and generally going nowhere. This is part of our strength and our downfall. Our resourcefulness and rebelliousness will allow us to survive and triumph over most situation. But our resistance to cooperate and unite for the good of the whole, slow down our progress. I am intrigue to look deeper into how Balinese think and function with each other. DAY 1: We had a flawless flight from SFO to Taipei, and from Taipei to Denpasar, Bali. The 18 hour flight afforded me much time to catch up on the Hollywood blockbuster movies that came and gone. Already, I encountered many leadership lessons from the movies that I watched. The movie that stood out the most was “Wardlords” a film set in the 1860s, during the Taiping Rebellion in the late Qing Dynasty in China. The story, based on an unresolved crime in 1870, tells of three sworn brothers (played by Jet Li, Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro) who are forced to turn against one another due to the harsh realities of war and political intrigue. If you liked the older movies Hidden Dragon Crouching Tiger and Hero, you are going to love Warlords. The movie displayed the many forms of leadership (both good and bad) and the decisions and consequences that the leaders had to make in order to achieve their vision. Some leader had immediate and short sighted visions like “taking care of my clan, therefore I lead a team to do what it takes to feed everyone.” While other leaders went for a much grander and global purpose like “to change a culture mindset and behavior” or to unite a kingdom. The trickery, betrayals, and abandonment that were played out, all in the name of leadership was awesome to watch. I love a good Chinese, Kung Fu fighting, twisted love triangle, leadership movie! We arrived in Bali at 5pm local time, just in time to join the group for diner. Issac (our untamed leader) briefed us on our tour, and I almost lept out of my skin in glee. Here is what my tired brain remember: - We’ll be going to open market at 6am to watch the market open at sunrise over the rice field - Then we’ll go to one of the oldest temple on the island to meditate - and for lunch we’ll be having a private meeting with the Royal Family including C K D Agung, one of the young entrepreneurial Princes who is involved with the Bali Institute. - as if that is not enough, we’ll be at some beach where you can see the sunrise and the sunset at the same location! As Issac briefed us he kept stressing three points about INDIGENOUS WISDOM: 1. Part of indigenous wisdom that passed down to him and everyone on the island is this knowing that no matter where one goes, or how far out one travels, one will always be safe and fed. (Imagine what that would be like if we ALL assume that life and people are SAFE and that we can always knock on someone’s door to feed and care for us, when we need help) 2. LIFE and wonderful things will ALWAYS come to us if we let ourselves see with our heart. 3. As we look for the “UNTAMED” in Bali, we will ultimately run into the “untamed” parts inside all of us. OK bed time. I am exhausted. And have to be up at 5:30am to be ready to go at 6am. Don’t want to miss a moment of this adventure. The Beginning: At midnight 11/7 I will be heading to Bali for 14 days. I am so excited. This is my first time in Bali. I will be part of a 6 person tour group, hosted by the untamed founder of the Bali Leadership Institute Marcia Jaffe and her Director “Issac”. This is no ordinary tour. They have been so busy preparing for special experiences, unusual visits to behind-the-scenes places, and meetings with some of the most fascinating Balinese on the island. Did I say I am so excited? Check out my itinerary A few words about Marcia and “Issac”. She is a lovely woman who lives in Marin, the Bay Area (Northern California for those who are unfamiliar). She has been working on a dream for the last 6 years to create sacred centers around the world that will host important conversations about leadership. She chose Bali to be the first center. “Issac” (pronounced E-ssac) is this amazing young man from Sumatra who has “leader” written all over him. He is her hands and feet in Bali. She dreams it and he executes it. Together they have gotten enough attention for this dream that they have built a non-profit business structure, have held several significant events and workshops, have raised enough money to buy a piece of land, and are now beginning the process of construction. They are putting on this first tour to offer a deeper exposure to the Balinese Culture to fellow dreamers like me, who wants to be part of this dream. So I had to come! I will be posting regularly the adventure as the two weeks unfold and share with you what I am learning. So Stay Tune!!! In the meantime, do check out their website and see for yourself this beautiful dream unfolding. Bali Institute for Global Renewal

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