I had to smile to myself over the last two weeks.
Was I not the one to claim it’s important to ‘recharge and navigate stress-free through the challenges and craziness that usually come with the last third of the year?’
As I have my own business I can plan my time wisely and make sure I have enough little moments in which to wind down and slow the pace, right? That said, there are so many exciting projects which make it hard for me to say no.
The past two weeks were really quite crazy and absolutely stimulating all at the same time, for example. Everything started with a client workshop in the Frankfurt area from Thursday to Friday. Along with my co-facilitator I was expecting a smooth two days with a small group of just twelve leaders. It turned out to be intense work all round for us facilitators as we navigated the team through some fundamental interpersonal topics. We were content with the progress the team made, yet I was pretty tired at the end of the two days, physically as well as mentally.
I got home on Friday around midnight and got up early on the Saturday to wash my clothes, pack and prepare the logistics of my next three back-to-back engagements over the coming one-and-a-half weeks. All of Saturday I was writing messages and emails with the four colleagues with whom I would facilitate the next event, a gathering of one hundred and sixty people in Berlin starting the the next day.
My car was packed to the rafters with materials I needed for the workshop due to start in south-east Germany on the Thursday after I’d been to Berlin. I got up super early on Sunday morning, parked my car at Munich airport and flew to Berlin.
The Berlin gathering was a really great and wonderfully fulfilling experience. Holding the energy in a room of one hundred and sixty people and ensuring a meaningful experience for all was energetically quite demanding for the five of us and in addition we hadn’t been able to get much sleep thanks to all the bits and pieces which had to be taken care of during the event.
Early afternoon on Wednesday I hopped on the plane back to Munich and drove for two and a half hours straight en route southeast to a remote Wellness Hotel for my next client engagement.
I arrived at half past seven in the evening, prepared the workshop room and collapse into bed at eleven. This engagement was a three day Leadership Team Offsite from Thursday to Saturday.
I was really excited as we had agreed to combine their need to talk strategy and operational themes with ‘renewal’ elements that allowed them to recharge their batteries.
Every morning we started off with some grounding exercises. At lunch time on the first day we took some lunch bags and went out for a two-hour silent walk. We walked over fields, through forests, sat in the sun and took it slow, everyone walking at their own pace, doing nothing but connecting oneself with the surrounding natural setting.
We all went on a run together on the second morning, and I led them through a light Yoga session on the third. One evening we cooked together and on the other evening I took them through a meditation technique. During the days we explored some little tips and tricks to allow the body and mind to pause and relax now and then.
Something great happened. In fact, we had together planned out our schedule for the three days which I literally tossed away after the first morning.
I gave the team time to slow down and talk, I gave them space for the themes which really needed to be discussed. Interpersonal topics. The team made a huge step forward in leveraging its collaborative effectiveness as they came up with some really creative, progressive ideas.
I received the feedback that this was a result of the environment I’d created for them that allowed them to unwind and step off the treadmill. It goes without saying that I really felt happy and content (and tired). It was Saturday afternoon when I drove back the two hundred and seventy kilometres to my home town, my car packed again up to the ceiling.
I arrived home at seven in the evening, threw all my stuff back inside, ate and had a quick look through my emails (which I shouldn’t have done as it kept me awake until midnight). On Sunday I got up early to wash my clothes, pack and prepare logistically for my next engagement set to start on the following day, my own open ‘renewal retreat’ in a beautiful mountainous location twenty minutes from my house. I planned to meet Moni, my co-facilitator, in the afternoon in order to together go through the upcoming schedule.
I had blocked off some ‘free time’ between one and four to write my next blog. That’s the promise I made to myself (well, and I announced to the whole world in one of my prior blogs ☺) to write a blog every weekend and put it online Sunday or Monday at the latest.
And there I was: blank. No thought. No idea. No creativity. No words wanted to come out. I just sat there and started out of the window and my brain felt like an empty hole.
Surprise, surprise. Isn’t that what I tell my clients all the time: you cannot expect to find yourself settling into this creative space on demand, particularly if your mind is always switched on and busy all the time. You need to let go, to give yourself some downtime and relax.
I didn’t feel relaxed, my ‘free-time’ plan between one and four instead made me feel extremely stressed. I finally let go of the idea to produce some smart stuff in that moment, squeezing three hours into a full agenda simply doesn’t help me to relax.
I just realized in that moment it was time to follow my own advice — to let go.
The renewal retreat facilitated by Moni and I on the following week arrived just in time, not just for the participants but clearly also for me. It was all about slowing down and having time and space to unwind, to relax and to nourish what I call your four energies: body, mind, emotions and soul. The retreat’s impact on me? You’ve just read it, my words are flowing again.
What is your “retreat practice”, the way in which you slow yourself down and unleash your creativity? Share with me on Facebook or Linkedin, or send me an email at email@example.com. I'd love to hear from you.
Let's inspire each other, let's nourish our energies.