Reflections After a Great Retreat
I returned a few days ago from the 2011 Berrett-Koehler Authors Cooperative Retreat, at the Stillheart Institute, located among the redwoods, not far from San Francisco. Last year, after attending the 2010 retreat, I wrote about the benefits knowledge workers can gain from similar events. Here are some further reflections after this year’s experience:
1. Conferences/conventions vs. retreats. I love conferences, and there are certainly similarities with retreats. But consider the difference in scale between a place like Stillheart (and the locations of the two previous retreats) and a typical large convention center, where you spend a considerable amount of time each day in transit. There are often long waits in line at the lone Starbucks, and limited food choices. At Stillheart, the three communal meals a day were delicious and healthy, and coffee/tea and snacks were always available.
2. A sense of the “other.” Retreats, however structured, get you out of your routine and normal physical settings. Unless you live in or near a redwood forest, you’re not likely to be surrounded by this type of scenery in your daily life.
3. Seeing a different side of friends/colleagues. Each year a highlight has been the Saturday night talent show. I was knocked out by the comedic, singing and musical ability of some of the authors.
4. The element of surprise. Some of the best moments of the retreat came from listening to ideas in different session “threads” that I did not anticipate would be relevant for me. It provided a lesson in the wisdom of suspended judgment.
I am grateful to the BK authors who volunteered their time to organize another wonderful retreat. I’d love to hear other thoughts on the benefits of a retreat, especially from the people who attended this year.