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.
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.
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?