Last month, founder of And Heart, Tess Keijzer, hosted her very first “lead by Heart” day at a breathtaking venue in the city center of Amsterdam. During this one-day program, you’ll learn to rise in your authentic power, to live and lead from your heart, connect to the powerful leader within you and to rise in your full feminine authenticity. I was personally invited to join this exciting event. And it was quite a journey, to say the least.
When I walk towards the venue during the early sunrise on this given Friday morning, my legs are shaky and I feel my heart pounding in my chest. I had been quite anxious for several days, due to an overload of work and some turbulent meet-ups earlier that week. Though I had been looking forward to the event – especially since I’ve known Tess for a while now and am very aware of her abilities – this morning, I had trouble finding the right mindset.
Today is all about connecting to our heart’s intelligence: to become more prominent leaders. Though the description seemed clear, I couldn’t help but wonder: How do you live by heart? And if I didn’t even know how to do THAT, how the hell was I supposed to LEAD by heart? Nevertheless, I was determined to open up and let it all in – To become that better version of myself that Tess so profoundly said I’m worthy of.
After climbing three flights of stairs to the third floor of event space “The Playing Circle”, I walk in with flushed cheeks and slightly out of breath, but the warm ambiance of the room instantly calms my nerves. Tess welcomes me with her warming energy, sparkling eyes and a bright smile – as always – and after being served a hot cup of tea, alongside some healthy snacks, I sit down in one of the chairs and the tension in my shoulders gradually disappears.
The ‘lead by heart’ day is designed to make you think about the following topics: What is your leader role in your own company? In your family? In your group of friends? In our society and in this world? Who do you want to become and what steps are needed to get from one place to another?
A dozen other women have joined us and we are sitting down in a large circle – Tess in the middle. Though Tess made it clear everyone was here for their own personal benefit, we should utilize the energy of the group to both lift each other up, and leave space for personal development. The day is split into two parts, divided by an hour lunchbreak, with both individual and group exercises. We start with a short heart meditation – a brief 10-minute session in which you close your eyes and set an intention for the day – after which everyone had a chance to introduce themselves to the group.
Tess explains how neuroscientists have scientifically proven the connection between the heart and the brain – think neural cells and hormones – and when used correctly, we can influence our stream of thoughts and, with that, how we feel about ourselves and how we view others. It’s a magnetic field that attracts likeminded people, which is also why people who are in a downwards spiral, are basically trapped in a vicious circle: You attract what you are. (you can learn more about this in our 4-episode podcast series: The Heart-cast).
Throughout the day, Tess shared several tools in which we used our heart’s intelligence to find our inner truth – to feel what truly makes us happy, instead of what further feeds our egos. As we as humans are taught to think with our heads and make decisions mostly based on ego, half the time, we don’t even realize what it is that we truly desire.
To live and lead by heart, to become a powerful leader, Tess explains three essential steps: 1) connect to your heart, 2) embrace your shadows and release your saboteurs, and 3) rise in your authentic power. To become better leaders, we need to connect with ourselves first, to be able to connect with others – which is what leadership is all about. The goal is to learn not to react to something based on emotion, but to listen carefully to be able to respond to the other person’s needs, in alignment with your own intentions. This often means you have to read between the lines.
So, if you tap into your heart’s intelligence and answer this one question: What is your impact on the people and the world around you? Do you then consider yourself a leader?
In a number of exercises, we formed teams to share personal stories, coordinate efforts, and establish discussion groups about commitments that dovetailed. The element of surprise in these exercises have a galvanizing effect and helps you identifying which individuals share a similar pattern. Besides the fact that it is rather comforting to share thoughts with likeminded individuals, in addition, it creates opportunities for networking.
It felt truly amazing to be in the presence of so many inspiring women, joining forces to become the best version of ourselves. Tess is an exceptional human being. She has the kind of energy that is hard to explain, but fills every room with warmth, joy and compassion. She is truly involved with the people she meets, and is unbelievably knowledgeable in her field of work. Tess inspired me in many ways and helped me find balance in times of turbulence. I would encourage everyone to give her program a try. Believe me, you won’t be disappointed!
For more information or the subscribe to the next “Lead by Heart” event visit And Heart
Credits: Photography by Emmily B