I ingest knowledge visually.

That’s why I’ve always hated numbers, statistics and analytics – unless I can physically touch something or comprehend it immediately I have trouble digesting it on a mental level.

That’s how I came to my big epiphany moment during the recent Lead Culpeper retreat at Verdun Adventure Bound.

Now, to backtrack a little bit, if you’ve never been to Verdun I’d recommend you remedy that now. Most people I know usually respond with, “oh, I drive by that place on Route 229 all the time.” Seeing a sign does not convey the message and mission of the location – to build teamwork, to learn about yourself and to vastly improve your knowledge.

The brainchild of Doc Snyder and his family, Verdun is the perfect location for Lead Culpeper.

The program, administered by the Culpeper Chamber of Commerce, takes community leaders (actual and potential) and introduces them to the behind-the-scenes happening in the community while teaching them valuable leadership skills.

I spent two days last week learning about my community, my classmates and most importantly myself.

Now, that last part of the sentence is tough for me to type. As anyone who knows me is likely to attest, I don’t think of myself often. It’s how I burned myself out in the past, taking on too much responsibility because I believe that if others see me chipping in they’ll follow my lead.

Until I took Lead Culpeper, I didn’t know that had a name.

Under the Life Orientations Training, I discovered I’m what you would call a Support Giving personality. There are others – Adapting Dealing, Conserving Holding and Controlling Taking. In our class of 17 people there were all styles of leadership skills represented. Strong alpha types who take control; analytical personalities who weighed every option before taking action; cheery, enthusiastic folks who cheered us on and those of us who were helpful and considerate.

I’m also one who usually didn’t buy into these leadership and personality tests, call it the skeptic journalist in me.

However, when something is presented to me in front of my own two eyes and I have that “aha” moment, I find it hard to not buy in.

Case in point.

During the first day of our training, Katie Snyder walked us through the LIFO test and helped assign us our numbers. Then, we went to corresponding quadrants of the room for favorable and unfavorable conditions.

During the unfavorable exercise, I noticed that most of the room was on the other side – either in conserving holding or controlling taking. I stood alone in the support giving side – doubling down on my strength.

It wasn’t until later in the week that I realized how true it was.

Fast forward to Friday, when our team of 17 went to the “spider web.” A rope web was intertwined through two trees and our mission was to send through our teammates one at a time, without touching the rope.

Easier said than done, but our team had a lot to say. We discussed strategy, angle of entry, order, the weather – just about every topic that could be broached.

During this conversation, things became more and more confrontational as everyone had great ideas – but sometimes they weren’t heard.

It was during this point that I felt myself shutting down, so I stepped back and took a deep breath, trying to gather my bearings.

It was then, as I stood at the back and looked at all my teammates in the front that I realized I had fulfilled the LIFO prophecy – it was just like in the room the day before.

Eventually, after a mysterious “bug” bit all of us and made us silent (trust me, this makes sense if you were there) we communicated nonverbally and got everyone across.

It wasn’t the most successful venture – we definitely touched the rope more than we should have, but for me it was successful. I bought into the method and that’s going to help down the road.

During the week, we had to identify our weakness and promise to address it. Mine is offering too much help and not accepting it, so if I say no to you during the next 21 days don’t feel bad. It’s part of my training.



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