As #TeamHB3 make their way home from Antarctica after a life-changing experience, we share more photos and reflections from aboard the #MVUshuaia. Stay tuned for more updates as the women return to their homes, families and lives, and apply their leadership lessons.

Excitement grew in the lounge of MV Ushuaia this morning. All of the 80 participants of this third Homeward Bound voyage had something to say about last night’s unforgettable sea crossing.

Twelve meters tall waves washed the ship. Winds gusted up to 70 knots. Some of us heard false alarms during the night – which were just some sensors going crazy with the inclination of the boat. Others saw chairs flying from the bedrooms to the corridor. And we all exploded in laughter watching a video of the ship going to 32 degrees while we all rolled in our beds.

The Drake Passage was just being the Drake Passage: rough and intense as any transition.

In our case, the Drake transitioned us both to Antarctica and now back to the “world”.

In our way down, I feared the Drake Passage so intensely that I set myself in sleeping mode for 2 days. The first view of Antarctica after that is something I will never forget. We awoke in calm waters with Antarctica dominating the views from the decks. The Drake had actually, dramatically, opened the door of icebergs, whales and penguins to us.

Once there, I found other things to fear; like not belonging in such group of incredible women. However, I soon realized I was surrounded by many real role models, and the opportunity to meet and be inspired by them directly was precious.

I realized that what binds us together is common humanity, love, respect and shared trust. We all want to experience real connection with others – but not at the cost of authenticity, freedom or other values.

Together, we explored new frontiers and actively demonstrated leadership, visibility and vulnerability. We respected our individual points of view. We discussed challenging aspects relating to gender diversity, limiting climate change at the global scale and all the barriers deterring them.

What had seemed threatening, grew familiar and revealed itself in beauty. Both outside and inside our boat.

The majesty of Antarctica unravelled with each landing, with each zodiac cruise, with each time we scanned the horizon trying to find wildlife as we sailed through the Peninsula. At every place; Paulet Island, Cuverville Island, Carlini Station, Hydrurga Rocks, Flandres Bay, Danko Island, Palmer Station, Brown Station, Melchior Islands, Lemaire Channel, Deception Island; each revealed special features, landscapes and experiences.

Days went by and I realized that moving further along into this exploration was one of a different kind — of navigating the sea inside myself. The farther I travelled out on our physical journey; the deeper I travelled in.

I spent time on this return journey back to the ‘world’ reliving the memorable moments and processing our experiences on what must be one of the most remarkable voyages possible on Earth.

What will I take from here to others? What can we do about this?

Lesson 1: It is indeed possible to create environments conducive to change and collaborative in nature.
To that end, building up trust is key. The BRAVING method can be a great ally in such process (Boundaries, Reliability, Accountability, Vault, Integrity, Non-Judgment and Generosity). The clearer and more respected the boundaries, the higher the level of empathy and compassion for others.

Lesson 2: You do not wander into such adventure unprepared.
Building trust in ourselves is a prerequisite for braving the wilderness with other people. BRAVING is also helpful here. What boundaries can one set for oneself? What is to be shared? What is not? How can one be coherent and reliable to oneself?

Lesson 3: Silence is a great ally.
What worked for me in this trip was to step back from my natural inclination to lead conversations and thus listen actively and deeply to the people around. Trusting I could step into that role momentarily was fundamental to reset my way of doing things.

Lesson 4: Language is key to move towards a vision of shared power among people.
If we stigmatize people or pigeonhole those who are around us; naming them this or that, we create division and lose trust. In order to maintain our ability to listen and to exercise empathy, we can replace confrontational language with constructive and peaceful language. In times of polarization on issues or ideas, we can always explore how to improve  the tone and increase one’s humanity; not the other way around.

Lesson 5: The literature says that we, women, perform better when we see that another woman is on our side.
I tried to imagine having 89 amazing women on my side. An extraordinary idea. I know that I had to make a conscious effort to cultivate constructive behaviors on this journey, and I did it. So I hope that, from now on, I recognize such opportunities and collaborate to make them valued by everybody.

Finally, how the world can become a better place after this voyage?

Not everyone, and not the majority of people in this planet will have the privilege to get to directly know Antarctica in their lifetimes. Still, those of us who have had, or will have this honor, have the responsibility of connecting people to the importance of Antarctica to the global commons and to our local and global climates.

I transitioned ceremoniously through the Drake Passage for the last 2 days —truly homeward bound. With new lenses. With more trust in humanity’s and women leadership in general. With more energy to serve for the betterment of the world.

And I know now that braving rough seas which toss ships like corks in the ocean is just a small price to pay for this humbling experience.

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