From Bennekom to Lumbini

My path towards self-discovery.

In a week, it’s happening. I’m going to Lumbini in Nepal to be silent for 60 days and meditate. The idea arose a year and a half ago during a personal leadership training.

I have quite a bit of cold feet now. It’s not easy to meditate for 16 hours a day and be completely silent. The most frequently asked question is ‘But why?’ or ‘What do you hope to gain from it?’

To answer that, I want to take you back to the beginning of 2016. That’s when I started looking into management training. I was a software developer and had a managerial role as well. I enjoyed it, but I wanted a more solid foundation. Together with Michiel, my manager, I found a training from Hermonde. And that training turned my world upside down.

Limiting Beliefs

Because I was quite content with my job. Great colleagues, interesting projects. And I had no complaints about my personal life either. That’s why the first day of training had such a huge impact on me. I was challenged to show myself in ways I had never experienced before, such as through horse reflection. It might sound a bit esoteric, but that horse revealed more about me than I knew about myself at the time. It showed me how I related to others and highlighted my limiting beliefs.

That affected me so much that Dineke also provided me with personal coaching. She guided me at the right moments. This led, among other things, to my decision to participate in a silent retreat in the Netherlands. The silent retreat, combined with the training, brought me a great deal of self-awareness about who I was. I caught glimpses of who I wanted to become.

Personal Leadership

In the training, there were nine of us, each with our own leadership experiences, from various industries and professions. I learned a lot from this diversity, especially during conversation and role-playing exercises. Cindy and Dineke, the trainers, created a very open atmosphere within the group. We tackled limiting beliefs in small groups, for instance. I found the group to be very eager to learn. We genuinely marveled at Covey’s theory, the LIFO model, and the Hersey & Blanchard model.

Dineke and Cindy made me think in different ways, asking questions that prompted me to explore further. I remember a moment when I was talking to Dineke about the profession of a trainer and coach. I told her how amazing I thought what they were doing was. And Dineke said, ‘But I’m sure you can do it too!’ I took that comment home with me over the weekend. Various daydreams crossed my mind, like heading in a completely different direction, becoming a coach. It sounded crazy. I’d never succeed. There were already so many people in training and coaching. I’d have to learn it from scratch, and how would I pay my mortgage?!?

The Turning Point

After the last day of the training, there was a sudden turning point. I noticed that many of my limiting beliefs had transformed into empowerment. ‘I don’t want to hold myself back,’ and ‘I’m going for it!’ Once I made that leap, there was no turning back. I explored what and how exactly, which led to a new vision: I wanted to go abroad. Burn bridges behind me. Dare to live and break free from the patterns I was in. No mortgage for a while. Dineke also coached me through this process.

I was able to put what I learned into practice in the workplace during and after the training. I think that was immensely valuable. Afterward, I initiated a conversation with my employer to terminate our relationship. To my surprise, they were almost cheering; they were sad to see me go but also very supportive of my decision. In early 2017, I began preparations for an indefinite stay abroad.

But in the summer of 2017, those plans were completely revised when I ran into Cindy during Hermonde’s anniversary party. She wanted to schedule a meeting to discuss a potential collaboration. I remember driving home with butterflies in my stomach. Ultimately, we agreed to work together after my journey. I look at this collaboration with great pleasure, though it’s still sometimes hard to believe.

And now, just one more week. Looking back on a year and a half of tremendous personal development and self-awareness. And looking ahead to a period of reflection. And even further ahead to a new beginning.

Read more about the sixty-day retreat in Nepal.