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LEAP: The perks of the self-development journey

In October 2017 over 30 oikos LEAP Advanced participants came together, for the first time, in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland. From that moment on, they embarked on a journey, that aimed to develop purpose-driven, just and sustainable leaders. Fast forward 9 months, and in July, 2018 the Advanced participants bid farewell to the program. During this time, the LEAPers discovered their leadership potential and came closer to understanding their values and purpose in life. They bonded and sprung lifelong friendships with people who mere months ago were strangers to them.

On-site meetings

The intense but fulfilling on-site meetings were the most demanding part of the LEAP. The participants were challenged to leave their comfort zones, understand life experiences that shaped their character and identify those values and believes that are at the core of their self. The LEAPers also took part in workshops that introduced them  to concepts and tools, that are essential for leadership development. “we were not only inspired [during the meetings] but also overwhelmed by all the wonderful experiences we made and the people we met. It was outstanding how much we learned from every human interaction” – noted LEAP participants Kathrin, Lisa and Delia after the mid-term meeting in Spain.

The on-site meetings for the LEAP class of 2017/18 took  place  in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland and Arenys de Mar, Spain.  


A set of exercises called reflections, as the name suggestions, were designed to help participants reflect on their purpose and develop new attitudes and habits that were aligned with their ideal. At the same time, they encouraged the participants to have their objectives grounded in reality, not to fear setbacks. “Despite every effort to plan, dream, achieve, and set seemingly-insurmountable goals (such as crossing a mountain in just one day) we must all learn to embrace the drift. This starts with embracing ourselves, asking the hard questions, learning how to actively listen and aligning our path to our values. Once this alignment is set, there is still no guarantee that our conditioning will pay off. There’s no guarantee that we’ll reach that ultimate beach on the horizon – but at least we know how to try. We know that in order to reach our dreams, we have to first understand the mechanisms through which we drive progress. We have to learn how to embrace the drift, anchor our eyes and enjoy this present moment while we do so” – wrote Irie, one of the participants from oikos NYC in her diary entry, she kindly shared. “We were there, in the now, listening to acoustic music and the morning stillness, which included the chirp of a nearby bird, the crunch of a gravel underfoot, and the slight burbling of the river kissing the beach.” – she recalled about the moment when all the lessons from the LEAP came in one to enable her and her LEAP friends to immerse into the present during their trip in Budapest, Hungary.

Peer Calls, Coaching and Webinars

The LEAP journey was packed with activities that strengthened the participants commitment to self-development. “9 months full of reflections, coaching and several helpful concepts and tools shared by leadership thought leaders made us grow individually – but also together as a group” – says Sophie, a LEAPer from Reutlingen. Peer-to-Peer calls were a unique bonding experience for the LEAPers, who shared their daily struggles and achievements with a group of unprejudiced and supportive young individuals. In the words of Sophie “strangers quickly became close friends who developed and will keep a strong bond beyond the program”.

Irie summed up the importance of LEAP for bold youngsters who strive to change the world for the better: “embarking on a development journey such as Leap is a pivotal step in our mental conditioning to be the kind of leaders the world needs and to understand our role in this process. If we, the idealistic change makers, are to tackle oppressive systems such as climate injustices, human right violations and ecological destruction, it is imperative that we acknowledge social change and personal change as two sides of the same coin. They are in flux. They’re part of the same flow – the one we must learn to embrace.”

There can be no personal development without first realizing our purpose, understanding what it is that we want to give to the society, to the world in order to make it more just and sustainable. It is where the LEAP program comes into play, it encourages participants to learn about themselves in order to enable them create the world that reflects their ideal.

Read a beautiful story on mindfulness from Irie’s diary entry here