Every year I create a Reflection Retreat for my CEO members realizing that they do not or will not take any time for themselves to sit quietly and reflect on their business.

Briefly the day looks like this. I find an environment in nature where there are few distractions. This year we went to NatureBridge located at Fort Chronkhite on the coast in the San Francisco Bay area. We rented a room for the day which was only used to reconvene and share with one another several times during the day.

I created three separate 45-minute periods where they were alone and were asked to reflect on their business. The first period was titled Current State where they were to think about where their company is now. I had a number of questions to stimulate their thinking around this.  Some walked the beach or trails in the area while others found a log or bench.  I provided each a journal.

The second period was called Future State and what did they want their business to look like in 1-2 years. I provided them more questions to get them thinking.

The final quiet time was titled Transition State. In order to get from Current State to Future State changes will need to be made. What needs to change? And what obstacles might they run into as they implement these changes in their organizations.

After each period they were assigned another member to spend 15-20 minutes with to share what came up for them during their quiet time. Then they returned to the room to share with the entire group.

So quiet time, partner time, and group time for three separate periods during the day.

By forcing my members to be alone it helped them create better self-awareness. They were able to visualize their life and the path they want to create for themselves and their company more clearly than if they had attempted to do this at their desk.

A number of my members brought their journal from a year ago to see what they had predicted, how closely they had come to their vision and whether it was still appropriate one year later.

When I asked my members at the end of the day what their personal takeaway was from the experience here are a few examples:

“My company is a living business model, it always changes.”

“I need to delegate the legwork.”

“I need to keep preaching the process and hire the right people.”

“Today things are better and I can walk away anytime.  I have lots of options.”

“I love this group! It gave me the confidence to make a difficult decision.”

“I need to prioritize my ideas.”

“It was a call to action.”

“In order to exit my company I need a plan to stop. It will not happen by itself.”

“I’m pretty comfortable where I am.”

“I’m on course.”

“I must be intentional in my long term planning.”

How do you do this on your own? There are many ways to create quiet time for yourself. Turning off the television early before bed is not one of them! I prefer you find a place with few distractions. Walking a beach or through a forest, sitting by a river, sailing, or paddling a kayak. I think nature gives you the best opportunity to quiet your mind.  Where is it that is your peaceful place?

I challenge you to take a day for yourself.  As you start allow yourself an hour or so to let your body and mind settle in to the fact that you are not going to be constantly interrupted (leave your cell phone in the car!).  Soon thoughts will start to cross your mind.  Have a journal to record these thoughts.  They may be random and that’s okay.  Write them all down.  At the end of your day, whenever you choose that to be, review your notes and summarize them.  Then put your journal down and take another hour or so to appreciate the environment you are in.  Complete your day by enjoying a nice dinner or a movie to take your mind away from how hard you worked.  Your thoughts have been recorded to review whenever you feel like it.  Enjoy the process.  I would love to hear about your experience.

Here is a short article that talks about the power of reflection.

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StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath. Discover what strengths you have by taking the assessment which is in each book then review the strategies to maximize those strengths in your life.