In the summer of 2016, I went on an educational journey for the sole purpose of reconnecting with myself so I could practice better self-leadership – because a good leader needs to know how to lead oneself. I flew to Bali where I climbed a volcano in the dark, rode a mountain bike through the jungle, went for long walks, went running, meditated, surfed, and was blessed with holy water several times. It’s now a year since I went on that trip and what left the biggest impression on me – and what truly helped me reconnect with myself – was my meeting with Wayan. This column is therefore a tribute to Wayan and a story about how letting go of everything can lead you to the right path.

I have never been good at being alone, which is why I chose to challenge myself and go to Bali on my own. I’m an experienced Change Manager but the time had come for me to learn how to be my own Life Manager.

I flew thousands of kilometres, made a stopover and then flew again. My first experience with Bali was a baggage carousel that moved at an unreasonably slow pace. After waiting for nearly an hour, I finally got my suitcase and went to find the driver who was waiting for me. He took me to the hotel and day 1 out of 17 had begun.

Chance would have it that the hotel driver couldn’t take me around the island, so the hotel personnel had asked around for a substitute in the nearby village. They found the medicine man, Wayan, who later drove into the driveway. I got in the car and asked him to show me the most beautiful places in Bali, and off we went.

During our many drives Wayan taught me the following, which I use in my personal Life Management and in my daily People Management:

  • Integrity and a clear understanding is crucial: “If you sow a rice field, you reap a rice field and not a wheat field. That’s the Law of Karma.” Intentions, promises and behaviour must go hand in hand.
  • Positive thinking is a prerequisite for getting what you want: It’s important to be able to “close the window and not look back” in order to maintain the right focus and not let the past affect the present.
  • Spiritual people always ask themselves questions, as it evolves the soul: “Look with your eyes and you see materialism. Look with your heart and you see love.”
  • You need to take frequent breaks to regain control of yourself for the consequence of “no breaks” is “no power.” In a busy everyday life it’s crucial to clear your mind through meditation to make way for new thoughts and to be able to make the right decisions at the right time.

Wayan talked a great deal about clearing your mind by either looking into a lotus flower or candlelight. My surfing instructor said that smiling helped him clear his mind, so he smiled while he meditated. How to achieve peace of mind may vary from person to person. For me, it’s quite simple: candlelight, a smile, and a good night’s sleep.

Wayan taught me that to be a good leader and Change Manager, I need to be able to lead myself and thus be my own Life Manager. It takes courage to confront yourself instead of moving forward in the dark with blinkers on, but it’s necessary if you want to be the kind of person others follow.

My trip to Bali took me away from the western pace of life and was an extensive, far eastern introduction to ensuring longevity in both my personal and professional life. And all because someone opened up to me and became my mentor. The 17 days I spent in my own company gave me time to think and the tools to reconnect with myself.

Some may wonder why I’m sharing this story, but I see a need in the Danish management culture for some of the caring advice Wayan gave me. I hope it can help inspire people and show that it’s only when you truly let go of everything that you find your way and at times, that path will stretch further and lead you to something far greater than you could ever imagine.

Thank you for showing me the way, Wayan!