The 2020 class of Leadership Wyoming has barely gotten underway. The group held its orientation in Laramie in August, its retreat in Jackson in September and its first topic-focused session in Gillette in October.
Phew, are you tired yet?
If it sounds hectic, you’re right, it is. That’s also only a quick glimpse of the wild, exciting whirlwind that is Leadership Wyoming.
As I write this, a contingent of this year’s class, as well as prior classes, are attending the Governor’s Business Forum in Cheyenne, which will include a Leadership Wyoming alumni event.
In December, we’ll head to Rock Springs and Evanston to learn more about the state of education in Wyoming. That trip will be followed by trips to Casper to learn about health care, Cheyenne to learn about state government and Lander and Wind River Reservation to learn about cultural and economic diversity. Then, in late April and early May, the group will come to Sheridan to learn about philanthropy and to celebrate its graduation.
The travel and the schedule when you’re on site can be intimidating. The days are pretty well jam-packed with tours, speakers, leadership training, reflection time and activities. But every second so far has been worth it. Here’s a brief look — without spoiling the program for those who may apply in the future — at what I’ve learned so far in the program.
• Meeting and connecting with people from different backgrounds and in different industries will prove invaluable in solving the state’s problems for future generations. The more earnest, honest, informed voices you have at the table, the better ideas can be generated. Look out, Wyoming, Class of 2020 is coming.
• You think you know about natural resources in Wyoming, but until you’re in a coal mine, talking to power plant workers and debating funding for services with county commissioners and legislators, you’re really only scratching the surface.
• You think you know the leaders in your community, but you don’t really know them until you travel across the state with them. It’s easy to have superficial conversations about the news of the day, the front-of-mind topics in your community and the weather, but that won’t fill a seven-hour drive. After about hour two, you start learning about who they are rather than what they know or think. You learn the lenses through which they look at the world. Plus, Lizzo karaoke sessions will certainly help you bond.
• You learn your own social limits. For example, before signing up for Leadership Wyoming, I knew I was an introvert. But, three sessions in, I now know exactly what that means. It means that, sometimes, I cannot join the entire group for dinner and I seek out a smaller group. It means that during some of the scheduled breaks, I find a quiet corner to take notes and process all of the information that speakers have shared. Taking care of my needs, it turns out, makes me more available and more receptive to the rest of the program and allows me to focus more intently on the conversations I do have with peers.
• People who reach certain levels of leadership in their lives — meaning the folks in Leadership Wyoming — have high expectations of presenters, speakers and facilitators. Seriously, that’s a tough crowd. So, thank you to all who have spoken with the Class of 2020 so far.
None of this comes close to covering the Leadership Wyoming experience the Class of 2020 has had to date. But, it provides a glimpse and hopefully some encouragement to check it out. The next round of applications open in January.