Summer School Update: Mindful Leadership by Design - UWC ISAK Japan

Summer School Update: Mindful Leadership by Design

It has been a few days since Summer School 2018 kicked off with the arrival of bright and enthusiastic students from all over the world! They are all curious and motivated to learn the importance of leadership to become change-makers for the better future. Over the next two weeks, we will be introducing you to the Summer School curriculum, starting with today’s coverage of the Mindful Leadership by Design (MLBD) workshop!

Mindful Leadership by Design is used to describe the leadership model at UWC ISAK Japan’s Summer School, which encompasses the six essential skills we believe is crucial for this day and age. The workshop, which was facilitated by graduates from the inaugural class of UWC ISAK (all of whom have learnt, benefited and live this leadership model daily), used personal stories and activities to help them understand the importance of these six values:

  • Self-awareness
  • Empathy
  • Optimism for tackling complex challenges
  • Assertive and compassionate communication
  • Purposeful action in the face of uncertain outcomes
  • Acceptance of responsibility of choices

Centered around the idea that ‘we are not responsible for what shows up, but we are responsible for what we practice’, students participated in a group activity which required teamwork and coordination to complete. They were required to use only their index fingers to hold onto a hula hoop, which they then had to slowly lower until the hoop reached the ground. They could not let it go, or they would have to restart the entire activity. At several times throughout the activity, students shared that they felt frustrated with their teammates who would make mistakes, or who seemed unable to follow instructions. However, they soon realised they had to apply what they learnt earlier in the day — where thoughts, feelings and reactions are beyond our control, but how we react to them is — by choosing to react positively and patiently so that everyone could collectively reach their goal.

For example, a student explained that in his group, they initially yelled and blamed one another for dropping the hoop. However, once they realised this was not helping them, they tried to come up with a more productive solution, such as looking at the people on the other side to balance the hoop. To their surprise, there was a huge improvement after that!

In the afternoon, students had the opportunity to design their own practice. Earlier in the day, they had reflected on what was most important to them. This was a personal, non-judgmental exercise meant to allow them to understand how to use these values to practice leadership in their daily lives. Using those values, they were then asked to think about what they would like to do everyday for the next two weeks, with the idea that something done daily (or frequently) eventually becomes a habit. Examples of practices that students came up with include reading a book every night and using a dictionary to look up unfamiliar words, in an effort to improve her English vocabulary, as well as taking morning walks with a friend.

Here at UWC ISAK, we believe that leadership is more than just a title — it is a practice that is cultivated through our daily actions. We hope that over the next two weeks, our students will learn this through their very own practice, and through the different activities, check-ins and events that they will certainly enjoy!

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5827-136 Nagakura
Karuizawa, Kitasaku-gun,
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