When most people think about “taking time out” in their personal and professional lives they think about holidays, New Year’s resolutions or when faced with a major event. In their professional lives they think about strategy reviews and annual planning. In reality there is never a better time than “right now” to take stock and assess one’s life in a holistic way – both from a personal and business perspective, and, with an honest eye, look at the areas for improvement and expansion.
When people ask me about this “right time for a retreat”, experience shows me that there is never a better time to take time out and re-invest in ourselves as we journey towards greater self discovery and fulfillment. Invariably people who are interested in spending time in this “safe space”, where more powerful, conscious thought coupled with complete honesty can materialize, are those who are used to being at the top of their game but who are looking for a deeper sense of fulfillment. Often high net worth individuals, celebrities constantly in the public eye, and senior management are in need of high quality, mentored space – away from the mental, emotional and physical patterns that can become de-energising and reduce one’s ability for clear, focused thought followed by actions which are tied to deliverable results. It is difficult to imagine, perhaps, how when you are at the top of your game, and have substantial business or personal successes behind you that it is possible to achieve more.
Often retreat participants are looking for a clearly defined gap or ‘sacred space’ in their daily, weekly, monthly even yearly patterns – where the act of consciously stepping away from the diversions of their work, the media, the internet, social media, social dramas and even away from mobile devices 24/7 allows for high quality space. Stepping away from all consuming habits is difficult to do on a day-to-day level – but when someone commits to a retreat, it is remarkable to witness and support this desire to deliberately lose contact with the outside world, retreat from digital clutter and the ‘daily grind’ in order to focus on a higher purpose.
A good example is Ian Filby, CEO of sofa specialists DFS, who says he is able to push himself even further after attending a Udell Group retreat in the Cornish countryside. Ian is one of the “high achievers” from a retreat last year – he told me that his experience helped him to focus on his plans for both the company and his life in general. He shared these thoughts with me: “Having three and a half days to reflect meant that I could create the space to really plan out how I was going to achieve my personal and business goals. In the immediate term I came away with a three-year vision for DFS. My ‘four pillar plan” which I have been talking to the business about over the last four or five months, was created during my time in retreat. As well as creating that business vision I also created a plan with one-year steps around a number of personal and work dimensions.” Filby says that he keeps a copy of his one-year plan in his briefcase and regularly checks his process. “It’s been a valuable tool”, he adds.
With one-on-one coaching, personal reflection and dedicated exercises to support a journey of personal discovery and greater fulfillment, the results from time spent on a retreat are remarkable, visible and tangible. Within this space of quality time comes quality thinking – and, as many people like Filby have found, the ability to come up with real insight while focusing on a clearly defined plan of action.
The results? Better relationships, higher levels of awareness, increased intuition as well as clarity and vision around goals and achievements meant to stretch and reward delegates.
Read the following articles:
ILM Edge ONLINE: “Leaders’ retreats: Vision, wellbeing and business”
IOD Director Magazine: “Business education: what’s next?”