In this month’s post Stephen Broadhurst (DBA 2014) discusses not going, and then going, to the 2016 EGOS Colloquium in Naples, Italy following a passing remark made by his Grenoble DBA Program Director. He was initially encouraged to have a look at the 2016 EGOS Colloquium as specifically they were holding a themed workshop on his research subject of Spirituality… in fact on ‘Spirituality and Mindfulness’, a theme on which he returns to in his conclusion.
The Initial Suggestion
My DBA Program Director – Dr. Michelle Mielly – thought that EGOS may be useful for my research, so having a lot of respect and time for her, I ‘caught’ the suggestion and started to look around the EGOS webpage. It looked okay and did not break the bank to join, so I became a member. The weeks consequently passed by and as the Colloquium got closer, I felt and had little motivation to go and attend. In fact it was just eight days before the start, that I finally made the effort to book my flights and hotel. I just thought “Well, it will be something different, give me a break and I could always sneak off to the nearest pool/beach/bar if things got a bit dull.”
On the day, getting up at 4am for my flight was an effort and this alone did not really enthuse me any further. A large cup-of-coffee (it was very nearly going to be a large beer!) after I had gone through Customs – finally began to kick start both my heart and head accordingly. In essence, I had convinced myself that it was going to be a costly boring experience, visualising only about 30 people (mainly men) in attendance and that we would all be sat in a grotty classroom talking about ‘Spiritual stuff and nonsense’ for three days.
My Suitcase was even less motivated to Attend
The flight was good for me, unfortunately though, my luggage decided to go to Germany and after queuing in the heat for an hour or so in Naples Airport to report it missing, the “What on Earth am I doing here” thoughts gained momentum. I got to the Hotel, and headed out to the city to replace my lost ‘essentials,’ reassured that my bag would arrive the next day. Upon purchasing the bare minimum (and that beer), I also found out how to get to the EGOS venue from where I was staying – ½ hour by Metro and then 20+minutes walking. That was going to be a pain but still, had to be done!
That evening, standing in Reception, luckily, a young woman was holding a Shuttle Bus schedule to the Colloquium – having flown in that morning the email had evaded me and after politely enquiring about it, she mentioned that they were sending a bus to not only pick us all up, but bring us back as well and what’s more, she promised to sit next to me – marvellous! Things were picking up again.
First Impressions Count
Walking into the University of Naples, my first impressions were ones of a pleasant surprise. The number of people was unbelievable, circa 2300 people (consisting of both men and women) were attending and the atmosphere was already buzzing. So much for my prediction, I couldn’t believe it. Secondly, the event had been terrifically organised, with people on-hand to guide helpless non-techy people like me (as instead of just asking somebody – you could download an app of some sort for your phone – something that is beyond me!). I duly located the room where my theme was being held and where subsequently, the papers (on my subject) for the day, were to be presented. To be fair, these started off as fairly interesting.I expected a workshop room full of spiritual weirdos, until I realized I am a spiritual weirdo myself – perhaps worse than they were.
Time for Social
End of the first day – I was invited to attend a couple of social events, consisting of just women and me being the only bloke – sorry gentleman going, things were definitely looking up and I couldn’t wait. However, wearing the same things from the previous day and in the searing heat of that day, that evening, I started to feel a tad conscious about it – especially as I was about to face a room/bar full of very attractive women, so I was pleased in the knowledge that my bag would have arrived and I could freshen up and have a squirt of my best aftershave, before I went to impress.
Cinderella will (not) go to the Ball
However, when I got back to the Hotel, my baggage still had not arrived and two days of wearing thick jeans, a long sleeve shirt and heavy shoes, were leaving me a little bit, shall we say ‘Fragrant,’ but not in the ‘Eau de Toilette way’ so reluctantly, I had to decline a couple of the social events and as the shops were all shut by this time, I could not even go out to buy any more ‘essentials’. Consequently, I was facing a third day in the heat, wearing the same stuff, whilst envisaging that my new found friends, would not be friends for much longer and that there would be a sizeable gap around me in the (very acceptable) lecture room. However, at 2am in the morning my luggage duly arrived – hooray! At last, clean clothes and Armani aftershave.
Smelling delightful, I was a different man in the morning and was raring to go for the second day of papers of which, in the end, were pretty much a variation of the previous day, the content mainly consisting of Buddhism and Mindfulness– but that was okay – still interesting. That evening consisted of some more, unofficial and official social events (I got that excited I changed my clothes again). Both were very good and I was on my best behaviour, apart from when I accidently insulted a woman who was going to present at my theme the next day. I didn’t mean it – I just missed out a sentence and it all came out wrong – must have been the heat and the beer but luckily, she took it with best intentions and realised that I didn’t mean it. Thank goodness for ‘spiritual forgiveness’. Both of these events were held in nice surroundings, as much as you could eat and drink and well worth going to. The fun, the entertainment and the low moonlight in the clear sky was fabulous.
Third day in, my theme was pretty much ‘wringing out’ a bit more of the same old stuff, that it had being doing from the other two days – it made me think “Is spirituality really all about Buddhism and Mindfulness?” Certainly not from my perspective, but in a lot of respects this was fantastic for me, being a DBA student, as it meant that I potentially, had something new to offer to the subject, that would go in some small way of both filling in the gaps and progressing the subject. For that alone, the whole event was well worth attending.
Inspired by Colleagues
Everybody, particularly the Grenoble Ecole de Management staff was polite, funny and in the mood for good conversation and more importantly, prepared to put up with me in my rancid clothes, for social reasons and otherwise. It was fantastic to see Valarie Sabatier (Director of the Grenoble Doctoral School), who – if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t have been on the DBA program in the first place.
Inspired to Write…
When the Colloquium had finished, I reflected on my initial reluctance to go to it and I realised how wrong I had been to pre-judge it – almost convincing myself that it was going to be dreadful, based upon no real reason whatsoever. The best part? I have come back to the UK with even more enthusiasm for my chosen research subject – suitably reinvigorated and motivated – I cannot wait to publish and (hopefully) progress my topic.
Inspired to Disagree…
There was nothing really mentioned during the three days that justified the theme title ‘Spirituality and Mindfulness,’ as there was nothing discussed about Spirituality per-se, just ‘Buddhism and Mindfulness,’ as both being the panacea to it all. From my perspective – they certainly are not but I will use that in healthily debating it all next time! Because that is what it’s all about – a place where you can challenge and critique and nobody (I don’t think) takes offence.
Inspired for 2017
The sunshine was a welcome change from the UK weather and the food, although a bit repetitive, was all good… I can’t complain, as I put on at least three kilos eating it all. So, two things to conclude. Firstly, Lufthansa have just kindly agreed to reimburse me for my essentials (110 euro – Yippee!) and secondly, based on this overall experience, you may be pleased to know that I will be going to the next EGOS Colloquium in Copenhagen 2017. This shows how very wrong, and how much my program director was right, I initially was. Hopefully, when I see you all there, although I cannot guarantee my best behaviour, I will certainly be a lot cleaner and fresher and more positive than I initially was for 2016!