Leadership Brentwood Retreat Reflections


This weekend I found myself in the middle of a 32-hour technology ban with 20 people I’ve never met before. What was I thinking?

Well, that was one of the “privileges” of being chosen for the Leadership Brentwood class of 2010. I had not heard of the program until my friend Bob Knestrick urged me to apply for this year’s class. My first reaction was the typical: “Oh, for the love, not another thing to do. Have you seen my schedule?” However, the more I though about it, the more I realized that I know very little about my own community, and due to my business’ broad, national scope, I’m not engaged much locally. On a whim, I delivered my application on afternoon of the cut off day. I heard from a friend who went through the program a couple of years back that there was a lot of interest this year for the few 15 slots.

The ropes course of death. Little did we know tragedy was just around the corner

Fast forward a few months, and I’m on a bus going to an overnight retreat where I was not supposed to answer the phone, check emails, and even update my Twitter/Facebook accounts. (Confession: I sent out a few tweets from the safety of the bathroom. I was afraid that quitting social media cold turkey could have caused severe withdrawal therefore putting my new classmates in an unsafe situation. So I did it for them. That’s the kind of guy I am. )

After publicly discussing my DISC personality test with total strangers, going through dozens of group building exercises, escaping a swerving truck on my morning run with Liz Wilson, braving the Ropes Course of Death that almost claimed Amy Tanskley’s good leg, brazing through the Poison Ivy Forest of Doom for hours, and getting my Twitter fix in public restrooms, I have a few reflections to make.

1. I’m honored to be included with such great leaders. These are smart, caring, successful people whom in the midst of a full life manage to still find ways to give more. Their dedication to our community inspires me.

2. When you bring high-capacity, type A people together, expect sparks. From the very first few minutes in a room with these people I knew we would have fun together, but I also knew that there was enough brain power and life experience in this group for lively discussion and push backs on the status quo. And I wasn’t disappointed.

3. You can respect someone and not agree with them. I wish more people would learn that lesson. Our facilitators Missy Bradley and Celeste Raines did a great job tacking all of our very strong personalities and allowing for healthy conflict and resolution. Not everyone has to agree with me; they have the right to be wrong. 🙂

4. Sometimes you should not make the system more efficient. You should create a whole new system instead. During some of the challenges, the team (s) who were able to think creatively and push boundaries was able to leap beyond the rest. And no, Mike Knotts, team Alpha did not cheat.

Happy campers on our way home.

5. Pioneering is a tough business and not for the faint at heart. Our class wants to be known as a class that enhances our community and questions the status quo. We’re old enough to appreciate systems and rules but still young enough to question them. Well, I think we’re about to hear a lot of “you cannot do it that way. ” I say, bring it on!

6. It’s past time to retire “Thinking Outside the Box.” True to nature, business language is slow to change and we desperately need another metaphor. I’ve lived most of my adult life thinking outside the box–and thanks to Taco Bell, eating outside the bun–and I’m now wondering if I left some good ideas inside the box. Anyway, that’s my personal issue with the whole box thing, but I wish my classmates would help me come up with something new and fresh so I wouldn’t have to sit through another day of meetings talking about the darn box which no one remembers much about it anymore.

7. The woods are dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. That’s why God created the resort. I’m currently in the process of trying to evict a colony of chiggers who have found their way into my, um, how shall I put it, nether regions. Dr. Dan McHugh should be thankful he didn’t have to diagnose and treat my infestation.

What about you? What have you taken home (beyond chiggers and poison ivy) from a retreat that has impacted your life?

  • Sally Epps

    One of the big lessons I learned at a business retreat a few years ago is not to judge people on a first impression. I had put people in categories in my mind that were very different once I got to know them better. I'm curious. Do you really have chiggers?

  • @Sally,Yes I really do. I would prove it to you with a picture, but trust me, no one wants to see that.

  • Mark Taylor

    It took a retreat with my team before I realized that my opinion mattered to rest of my group. I always felt like I was not heard because I'm not as outgoing as some of my gregarious co workers.

  • Amy

    Maurilio – I think you did a wonderful job summarizing our weekend in the woods. As an update, my leg is healing quite well thanks to Dr. Dan. I couldn't agree with you more regarding "inside/outside the box" thinking and I look forward to coming up with some better business annalogies during the course of our leadership adventure. Thank you for the fun and for helping me rethink the possible. See you soon – Amy

  • 8. How did this make you feel? Upon reflection, would you choose different words to describe this experience? Thanks for sharing about our experience this weekend.

  • Thanks for your reflections Maurilio! It was my pleasure to help channel the great minds and power of this group. I have no doubt that you all have everything you need to be the best class…really…honest. You really DO have all you need to be uber successful AND to manifest that class statement!Missy

  • @Amy, I'm glad to hear you're mending. Yours are the battle scars that the group will carry from now on. I promise if elect, i will not let your sacrifice go in vain. Wait a second, wrong speech. Thanks for the kind words.

  • @ Missy, Someone said that greatness start in one's mind, so based on that we're already the best class ever.Thinking about it, I believe I came up with that line.Seriously, thank you for all your work and patience even as you and Celeste feared for your lives during the Stranded exercise.

  • David F

    The 15 participants far exceeded high expectations. Everyone was open, willing, fun, and enthusiastic. I didn't mention it during our final wrap-up (for fear of a breakaway group hug), but it felt like the end of a good party that one is sad to leave. Sign me up for the campaign to eliminate "Thinking Outside the Box" as a common business phrase. I recently watched a great surfing documentary "Bustin' Down the Door." that very coolly demonstrated "unconventional" thinking. Since we wouldn't want to steal the movie title, maybe something like "Throwing the Furniture Out the Window" or "Burn Assumptions to the Ground" would better get the point across (the exercises would definitely be great fun). Here's a couple of my favorite "unconventional" synonyms: Bohemian, anomalous, freakish, heretical, hippie, irregular, kooky, unconstrained, unfashionable, unnatural, unofficial, unorthodox, unstudied, wacky, and way out. Let your imagination run wild and may you coin the next overused business term (and profit from the notoriety).Thanks again to all that attended. This is going to be a fun year and I truly look forward to seeing everyone soon.

  • Greg Lemon

    Well put Maurilio! I couldn't agree more… terrific team of 15 and terrific opportunity to serve our wonderful community. I feel honored to be in a class with so much talent. Absent the bumps and bruises, I think this past weekend taught us all something new about ourselves as well as working with others. Looking forward to the next 9 months!–Greg

  • @Steve F thanks for the help with the synonyms even though the word "unnatural" gives me pause. @Greg thank you for your insight as well; however, I must confess that using the words "bump" and "9 months" in the same sentence elicited a pregnant pause from me. 🙂

  • Anna Stotts

    M.A.- I realize that today is Wednesday, and you posted this Monday. Is it too late to respond? Nah! I must say there were a few times I looked around the room and said, "How did I end up here?" Meaning: I was in the midst of some pretty incredible people, and I felt truly honored that I was chosen to be in their presence. Yes, David F. I feel a group hug coming on! To sum up..great weekend, looking forward to the months ahead, and looking forward to getting rid of MY chigger bites!

  • @Anna, chiggers for you as well? I finally got ChigaRid at Wallgreens. I'm thinking another day and the settlement will be eradicated.

  • Maurilio – very cool that you're doing LB this year. I was in Leadership Rutherford about five yrs ago and still think it's one of the best things I've ever done. Can't wait to see more updates following your monthly meetings to get your thoughts on what you learn/see/do in class. Enjoy!

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