Two month since we graduated ourselves from Knowmads. Yet, my Knowmadic journey hasn’t stopped yet; it probably just started. I am noticing I am still in the process, in a phase called the “post Knowmadic dip”. Before I explain what that means for me, I would like to provide an overview of the whole Knowmads Process, as I see it. An almost impossible thing to explain to people who have not been on this journey, and yet here I’ll try again.
These are the phases I like to define:
You pick it up, or talk to someone, or see it on Facebook: there is this cool place in Amsterdam, called Knowmads; they are different; no grades, no certificates, but a tattoo instead; you work on your own ideas, you create your own schedule, pick the topics you want to study; you learn about sustainability, you become a CHANGEMAKER, a nomadic knowledge worker, a connector. All you need is a laptop, a phone, internet and some tools to connect to yourself and to others and you will make an impact. I came to create my own legacy, a company to revolutionize the development sector. Buckle up and get ready for the ride.
The ride will cost you about 5000€ and believe me it’s gonna be a hell of a ride for so much money, and since you are in charge, you better make and take the best out of it. The ride itself will take you about seven month, including four weeks vacation period, and has a few major stops along the way (I call them one-purpose breaks), a Graduation Party for the former Tribe to be organized and topped each year, a so-called Tribe Project, a Nature Quest, a Midterm Presentation, a Personal Project, a Welcome Home Week facilitation and your End Term Presentation with Graduation Ceremony and Party of course.
All of these stops are guided by 5 questions and a weekly schedule, where the heart (Monday – Tribal Day), head (Tuesday and Wednesday Workshop of your choice), hand (Thursday & Friday Action days) concept is realized. The key thing in the program is actually the approach of CO-CREATION, where the students decide themselves what they want to learn and integrate, a kind of bottoms-up approach as opposed to the traditional education system, where the top down-approach is used to tell students what to learn.
Quite overwhelming is this degree of freedom, at least for some. It depends on you and what you make out of it, but it also opens the opportunity to see what’s underlying there inside of you: what drives you, motivates you, triggers you. To make the ride even more exciting, add students of different ages who are at different points in their lives, with different educational backgrounds, who come from different cultures, countries and continents and you get an unforgettable group dynamics experiment. You decide if you want to stick around and experience the ride or if you want to retreat, stay in your comfort zone, or have a break and take it easy, since there are no grades, judgments or expectations towards you, other than that you are in charge of your own experience.
I decided to go full-in; embrace it, and had my fair share of frustration, insecurities, a sense of belonging, connection, friendship, love, rejection; new ideas, concepts, and perspectives; coaching, judging and being judged, arguments, discussions; moments of joy, intuition, fatherly care, and so much more.
It was of utmost importance for me to experience this range of emotions and feelings and to allow them to exists, in order for them to disappear. For me the key was to understand that during the program a.k.a. roller coaster trip itself, I did not have enough (head) space, time and distance to understand, digest and integrate what we were experiencing or learning there, even though I had very important insights and personal learnings. This might leave you with the impression that this is just another form of self help therapy. But to me it was not; it was an eye opener on how much I was (and I believe many others are too) conditioned to comply with the social norms in order to be accepted, liked, and seen; without checking in with myself to notice what is really mine and what not. I was chasing the carrot, without noticing I did not even want it.
I want to share some insight from that Roller Coaster Ride:
Congratulations! You made it over here. This phase starts right away the day after your own Graduation Party. The void is there and present and you find yourself inside it. There are now no Holy Mondays anymore, no workshops, no check ins/check outs; your tribe members are not around and you don’t hang out at Knowmads HQ anymore. You start to miss the sometimes-annoying WhatsApp Messages, the long hugs, and the endless emphatic talks in the kitchen. No discussions with Guus, no common lunches or walks around the building – Well, just no daily structure anymore. Now you are a changemaker–sorry, I am a changemaker.
The most important rule at Knowmads: SPEAK FROM THE I! After Knowmads, I know who I am, I know in what world I want to life, I know what I want to contribute and change, I know what field/project I am interested in and I know how to start a business!
But why in the world do I not jump into action, if my mind and heart are ready? Where is the job in the area of sustainability, the updated resume reflecting my experiences in coaching, training, and workshop facilitation; my own homepage outlining my vision, intention, and purpose to start to change the world and make a difference with my skills? Instead I find myself procrastinating with these things, and instead go to yoga, meet people, work voluntarily on several different projects, and travel once in a while.
The idea of returning to a paid 9 – 5 job seems like a diffused cloud, which left a subtle trace of a reality I was once part of and might be part of again at some point in future. But for now, there seems to be another more appealing reality out there, even though if it comes with a lot of uncertainty.
Well, I consciously decided to give myself until end of the year, a few month, to digest and ponder and create space for whatever future wants to emerge, to use Otto Scharmer’s wording. Subconsciously though, I made this huge plan of action what and what not I have to do in order to get into action, which lead to frustration inside. The good thing is, my internal antennas are hyper sensitive and in receiving mode now and I was able to pinpoint the culprit, called fear of the unknown. And yet, I am able to sit with it.
After establishing a daily structure I noticed that there were a few things I had to redefine for myself.
One of the most important post-Knowmadic insight I had talking to a fellow tribe member was about what Knowmads really made me aware of. While in our education system, work places, and private surroundings. We are always receiving external confirmation and affirmation via grades, certificates, reviews, and or compliments. We become dependent on that without knowing it. Knowmads broke, yes, even disrupted, this pattern, by creating the space and possibility for students to confirm, reaffirm, and acknowledge themselves for the skills they acquired during that time. I want to call these skills SOFT SKILLS. We then graduated ourselves for what we think we learned, integrated, and took away from the seven months.
While in school and university, the main focus is on HARD SKILLS. However, the corporate requirement towards people lays on SOFT SKILLS. Here is where the gap is closed, and acts as a bridge between what’s present and what’s needed in today’s work environment. Knowmads makes it possible to gain, strengthen and master your soft skills but using other hard skills and methods to help to understand and connect to yourself and hence enables you to connect to others better. My level of self-awareness had increased tremendously.
The New Perspective
Having trust that something will present itself, which is in line with my personal answers to the five questions asked by the program, is a very powerful thing to me. During Knowmads I experienced many times that if I am ready to let go, I create space for things to come to me. For now all I can do is to stay present in this moment, without wanting, trying, or going the easy way (back to my old life).
About the author: Kurt is an alumnus of Tribe 15 (Germany) and a highly-skilled coach. This piece was originally posted here on his blog. Follow him on his personal adventures
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