I’ve been thinking about how to write this post for a few days now. It’s hard to articulate all the things that transpired over the Tim Howard NJCTS Leadership Academy weekend August 1-3 at Rutgers University for a variety of reasons: the breadth of content and the depth of emotions they triggered.
What was obvious, though, was the unbelievably high level of intellect and sheer talent embodied in the participants and coaches. I’m amazed, stunned, speechless by how articulate and educated everyone was. I was even more impressed by the ability of everyone, including the staff and the workshop leaders (all doctors, professors and professionals) to say “I don’t know”.
The ability, and willingness, to recognize shortcomings in parts of one’s own knowledge about TS and the desire to keep pushing forward, to keep learning more, showed a strength of character that will only serve to benefit the Tourette’s community. In my opinion, that quality is the first step in self-leadership; self-leadership being the driving force behind, and the ultimate goal of, the weekend.
Seriousness aside, the most enjoyable part of the weekend for me was the amount of humor that everyone approached TS with, regardless of the severity. As we all know, vocal and motor tics can feed off of others’ tics.
During the coaches panel, when participants were able to ask the coaches about their experiences with TS, the volley of tics went back and forth until the panel came to a virtual halt, and all that could be heard and seen were tics. Instead of getting impatient and irritated, the whole room burst into roaring laughter.
There’s something amazing about a group of people who can laugh at themselves. Eventually, things calmed down and the panel continued on, but it’s one of my most memorable moments of the weekend.
I’m so proud to be a part of the Tourette’s community. I’m so proud of the people that I met over Leadership Academy weekend. I’m thrilled that these are the people representing the TS community. Being asked to be a coach was such a gift. Even through all my struggles with TS, it affirmed that I’m doing something right.
Marisa Lenger resides in New York City and is the Founder and Owner of Venturer Travel (http://www.venturertravel.com), a bespoke travel consultancy. She is a coach at the Tim Howard NJCTS Leadership Academy and speaks publicly about Tourette Syndrome and bullying.