I was once on a bus with two of my coaches from BoldLeaders, Michael and Charlie. We were in South Africa, finishing up our program there, when Charlie asked us this question: Can we create awe? Can we generate awe? Or is it something that simply happens to us?

Throughout our travels, I thought a lot about this idea of awe and similar feelings. I experienced awe many times; as I was walking through Robben Island, as I was speaking to Dennis Goldberg, when we were running around on a beach, happy as crabs, and even when I was simply cooking food with the people I was with. Awe was around me often.  But how did it come about? Did I create it? Or did it happen to me?

My final answer came to this. I didn’t create awe, I didn’t sit down and say “Today, I want to feel awe, so here’s where, here’s what I’m going to do, and here’s how, etc.” I didn’t have a plan for awe. But, it also didn’t just happen to me, with no intention at all. I wasn’t inside these moments completely free of the thought of awe until it came to me. Instead, I had intentionally opened myself to the feeling of awe.


By walking into this journey with preparation, with internal projects churning and running, I was opened up to the possibility of awe, among other things, at all times. I had resources at my fingertips, in my head, in my heart, in my body that I had armed myself with through the preparation for this trip that helped to dictate how I was inside every moment. How present I was, how reflective I was, what I was open to seeing, to feeling, to asking, to creating, to playing. Preparation of self before a journey allows for a deeper context to appear, that without such preparation, we have the potential to be open to less and to be less self-aware. We may not be as present inside moments, we may not be as prepared for awe to be presented to us, nor will we be prepared to do anything with it.

The preparation I receive as a BoldLeader gives me the chance to experience every adventure as I normally wouldn’t without such preparation. I am not only open in so many ways, but I’m also analyzing afterwards in a very different way. I have a better idea of how I interact with new knowledge and new experiences. I’m armed and open at the same time.