One of the most soul-filling aspects of the work I do as an executive coach and business consultant is hosting retreat weekends at my family’s property on Crooked Lake. The tranquil setting on one of Florida’s most pristine lakes has been my sacred space for decades – offering much needed respites to be still, reflect and renew. Sharing this space with clients and observing the transformations that occur in them throughout the weekend is powerful. Mastering Leadership participant and guest blogger, Chrissanne Long, shares her retreat weekend experience here as part of a four-part blog series. Settle in, breathe, and enjoy…
Getting away, refreshing, focusing on myself
These are not part of my regular, weekly schedule. I might have added “unfortunately” to that last sentence, but I recently read an article Emily sent to me that helped me put the “work-life balance” conundrum for entrepreneurs into perspective. Jeff Haden—a ghostwriter for nearly 40 non-fiction books (including four Amazon #1s), a LinkedIn Influencer, and a contributing editor for Inc.com—wrote an article titled, “9 Signs You’re Going to be Extraordinarily Successful. #3 spoke to me: “You don’t think work-life balance – you just think life.”
He goes on to explain that the work-life boundaries we think (and are encouraged to believe) are necessary are actually impossible to maintain.
“You are your business, your business is your life, just like your life is your business… there is no separation because all those things (family, friends, interests) make you who you are.”
The Retreat Weekend
So, when I arrived at the Mastering Leadership retreat on a Friday afternoon, I was distracted and not exactly ready to “check out” and leave the workweek behind. I had emails that needed to be replied to and some unfinished work on my desk that I had to email to myself so I could work on it when I arrived home on Sunday. We started the retreat on the front porch of a lakefront cottage on Crooked Lake. There was friendly conversation and enough time for me to unwind a little before we started “the work” of the weekend.
We began with a restorative yoga practice overlooking the lake and a guided visualization to meet our “future self”. Yoga, which is still very new to me, always refreshes my mind and helps my mind and my body feel truly “stretched.” This practice prepared me to connect with my older, wiser future self and tap into the deep inner knowing available to me through that connection. Feeling renewed and empowered, we headed out for a sunset boat ride while sipping sangria and enjoying each other’s company and the amazing weather.
The first evening of the retreat we set our intentions for the weekend which helped me realize how fabulous and important it is to take the time to “check out” – even when it’s hard to leave the working work that I love behind for a while. The setting, uninterrupted time, and fellowship with the other participants made me aware of how grateful I was for the commitment I made to the Mastering Leadership program and the investment I was making in my professional development.
I should mention the meals, prepared with love, on-site by Jolene, Emily’s Mom, were incredible! Emily thoughtfully and carefully planned this nourishment. In fact, it might have been the best part of the entire experience had the conversations and activities not been so meaningful and impactful to me.
On Saturday, the day was spent much like Friday evening except we spent some additional time discussing the Leadership Circle Profile 360 that I wrote about in a previous blog . We shared some of the areas we were focused on based on our results. The biggest takeaway I had during this discussion was how the strengths that we have from the 360 perspective can at any time also be our weaknesses and, at times, those traits that are sometimes perceived as negative may serve us well in the right situation. The key, I discovered, is self-awareness and the patterns within the profile reveal how our effectiveness as leaders is the sum of all parts of who we are.
Later in the evening, we gathered on the beach for a bonfire overlooking the lake, watched an incredible sunset and “let go” of the things that hold us back as leaders by ceremoniously burning an object in the fire. What a freeing experience!
The Mastering Leadership experience with Emily has been about this to me… As leaders, we find ourselves on this pathway of life, thinking we have to to figure it all out on our own, and that couldn’t be further from the truth! Emily gently guides and walks alongside leaders encouraging them to find their authentic voices, leverage their strengths and realize their full potential.
The Mastering Leadership weekend retreat provided a special connection with like-minded leaders, gave me permission me to take a break…and left us all longing to go back to Crooked Lake!
If you want to know more about the program, follow this blog series, as I share more personal experiences about the Assessment, Workshops, Retreats and how I have brought Emily to my employees at Maximize to help us take our agency to the next level.
About Chrissanne Long
Chrissanne’s passion is helping small and mid-sized businesses thrive. To excel at that, she’s keenly aware of the need to be the highest and best version of herself as she advises her clients and leads her agency team. This past February she started my 2016 Mastering Leadership Program and has authored a 4-part blog series about her journey through the program.