LEADING AS SACRED PRACTICE: why would you want to join?

Karolina Iwa
4 min readAug 3, 2017


[I am writing this testimonial to share with you what are my takeaways from last year’s retreat. If you think you might want to join this year’s gathering — read more here]

Leading as Secret Practice is a five-day-long retreat, which happened last September, organised by people I really enjoy learning from. Also — I trust them a lot. This means, that — yes: I joined the retreat not really knowing what to expect. All I knew was:

  • I want to know how to bring more meaning, deep meaning into our work. How to understand the actual meaning of the work we do.
  • And to figure out how to support our clients in understanding the actual meaning of the work they do, providing their services and products.
  • I also sensed — I miss rituals, contemporary rituals, that will help us focus, check in, connect with all our talents, by ourselves and in groups. I knew there is more innovation, creativity, beauty to the solutions we create, so they benefit all.

What I received changed the way I communicate and the place I communicate from. It empowered me to support organisations in facing transformation and reaching their highest potential. Learning from these four beautiful teachers helped me elevate my practice to a new level of confidence, couriosity and authenticity.

Let me share with you what exactly are my takeaways:

Gisela Wendling’s model of Liminal Pathways empowered me to speak about the place of No Story we all pass through, going from our Old Story to the New one, be it individuals, teams or organisations. I experience my clients feeling a deep relief, finding out about this place and states / emotions related to it. They feel normal again, like they belong again and the tension relaxes, often for the first time in months. This is an incredibly powerful lesson in walking through transformation with kindness.

Alan Birskin, with his soft and quiet ways, from a position of patience and deep observation left a visible footprint by saying “If you want vulnerability to show up, if you want people to show up from a place of deep truth, you need to acknowledge every sharing, no matter what your inner reaction might be to it.” I find it especially helpful when experiencing people sharing what would be for me “in a wrong moment” or “otherwise inadequate”. Just listening, saying “Thank you” and allowing it to be, makes a real change in the quality of conversation.

Holger Scholz taught me to listen to the Land. I would not say I can hear what it says, what it wants, what it brings, teaches, but I listen. One day, a moment might come when I will understand how to understand and sense, which senses read the message. Until then, I am happy to keep an open inquiry.

And keeping an open inquiry is another so important one, this one I took from David Sibbet. Basically, whenever in a situation, where you feel an urge to find an answer, but feel you are not in a position to find one yet, and finding one in the NOW would be incomplete, misleading, too one-sided — these are the moments to sharpen the question as much as you can and hold it. Hold it, honour it, breath through it. Witness it finding a way to bring you the right answer. This has been helpful to me in so many professional moments, I have to say! It also became my personal practice whenever I struggle to be from a place of abundance, but the path seems steep. I just hold it, as open as I can. Breath, as much as iI can. No longer forcing the answer to show itself prematurely.

All in all, I can say the retreat empowered me to speak to the otherwise un-name-abel. To move into a space, which is a bit more complex than our perceived consensus reality. It allows me to venture and to share from a place of curiosity, peace and strength.

I am joining the retreat this year as well. And the 2018 one, which will happen at Beuerhof again — I have participants who will be joining together with me.

I can recommend attending the LASP to anyone accompanying groups and individuals in transformation and those, for whom transformation is a true quest and who would like to feel more at ease in moments of deep change.

Karolina Iwa


EMERGE Leadership Festival



Karolina Iwa

Senior Facilitator. Co-Founder of Leadership Festival. Exploring Leadership & Organisational Culture. Making companies thrive.