MUENSTER, Sask. — Courage has been defined as the ability to face one’s fears or difficulties with bravery. Self-confidence has been described as having the capacity to trust and believe in oneself. These concepts were central to two leadership sessions attended by 32 people from James Smith Reserve Nov. 17 - 22 at St. Peter’s Abbey. Instructor James Anderson of Minneapolis, Minn., led the two groups of 16 each, through his LifeSkills and Leadership from the Heart program.
The three-day program challenged people to come out of their shells, face others and express their opinions, whether to families, friends or groups, Anderson said. Discussions were held on the meaning of courage, self-confidence and achievement. Everyone was then expected to stand in front of the group and address it through various forms of public speaking.
“The goal of my courses is for the participants to become more passionate about their life and confidently go pursue their goals and dreams,” Anderson said. “Confidence and courage are important factors in that pursuit, and the only way to build confidence and courage is to put people in uncomfortable situations. Since public speaking is a fear many people have, it is a great way to get the participants out of their comfort zones.”
Fear and a lack of confidence often hold people back from developing their gifts, Anderson remarked. Individuals often take on negative ways of thinking after having gone through disappointments, suffered bad experiences or lived in harmful environments. People can change their lives for the better in spite of their history and background, he said.
Change is possible because fear and lack of confidence can be confronted, addressed and overcome. Sadly, many continue to hold onto unhealthy ways of thinking and living because these are familiar to them. They refuse to improve themselves because their lifestyles, though harmful, do not challenge them, he said. People wrongly believe it is safer to remain in their comfort zones than move on in life. Everyone has had bad experiences and the past can be very traumatic. However, it is possible to learn from the past and heal.
The two groups enjoyed the fast pace and energy of the three-day course, Anderson said. The participants informed him the sessions were not what they expected, as many thought they would be sitting around as passive observers. However, they informed him the activity and high paced learning were helpful and enjoyable. Anderson said some of the feedback included: “This is an amazing event. It was challenging, but well worth it. I really learned a lot. I needed this. You brought my passion for life back.”
Anderson was invited by a member of James Smith Cree Nation to lead the sessions. She had taken part in his Leadership from the Heart course and wanted others to “keep the energy going” by having others share in the experience, he said. She would like him to conduct his Recipes for Success Training for Teens. Anderson has led sessions for adults and teens in Regina, Prince Albert and North Battleford.
“I am very proud of the groups that completed the course. They did a great job,” he remarked. “The key thing is workshops don’t change people. People change people. It is what they do after the course that makes all the difference. The participants received tools to help them stay confident and motivated after the course is over.”
Anderson, owner of James Anderson Productions and Training, and LifeSkills Business, is a member of the Lac Courte Oreilles Lake Superior Band of Ojibwe in Northern Wisconsin and Choctaw Nation, Oklahoma. He has led leadership training seminars for business leaders, American Indian organizations, and university students in the United States and Canada. The work of Anderson has garnered him several awards, among them being named as one of the 40 outstanding Native Americans Leaders in Business under the age of 40, and receiving an Angel Award by the Oprah Winfrey Show for working with Native Americans.