Let’s Get Away

In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion.
— Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays

When I used to be involved in the Young Life youth ministry, we used to have this core value of “getting out of town” with kids.  You had to…

  • Break the rhythm of their everyday lives
  • Remove them from day-to-day stresses and realities
  • Unplug them from every distraction

It seemed like then, and only then, could we have relevant and meaningful conversations.  There we could talk about the big definitional issues that were causing the life they didn’t want and investigate the solutions to the life they ultimately desired.  There, meaningful and lasting change could happen.

It is no different with adults.  The boot camps I help lead with the Alamo Band of Brothers start on Thursday and end on Sunday.  There are only nine “sessions” of 60-90 minutes stretched over those 4 days.  It takes a person time to disconnect and space to hear from their God clearly.  Our lives are very noisy and it takes concerted effort to be still and quiet before our God.

Similarly, the Strategic LifePlan retreat we lead for individuals involve an orchestrated attempt to prepare a person for the weekend, well before the time away.  There is pre-work and encouraging emails to help a man/women get ready for a life-altering encounter.  We use a tremendous amount of media, music, quotes, passages, testimonials, and kinesthetic exercises to help our attendees take ground.  Monetizing the experiential currency of their lives, awakening passions/desires, and highlighting gifting/ability, is all appropriated in a clarifying document with a clear path forward.  The experience doesn’t end at the close on Sunday, but is followed by a systematic pattern of emails to help monetize the experience into the everyday rhythm of their lives.

The business version of this, the leadership offsite, has become synonymous with corporate life.  They typically involve team building, visioning, and strategic planning.  Healthy high-performing companies make a regular habit (at least annually and hopefully quarterly) of getting away with key leadership.

We have fallen into a rhythm on a one day offsite with key leadership that we thought might be helpful to share.  Every team and business situation is unique, but this might be a good model for some of you to start as a baseline and then add and subtract to meet your needs.

  1. Devotional – There is usually a teaching that we drive them to apply personally (we want them to reset personally, remind them of who they are, and get honest with themselves, before we move forward) – this time is very determinant of the quality of the rest of the day.
  2. Team Interaction – An exercise that helps them learn more about one another and bond more deeply as a team (we want them thinking as a team and operating with a more empathetic posture toward one another).
  3. Budget Review – How are we doing, where are we going, what are the issues and challenges we need to address.
  4. Remind, reaffirm, and possibly recast, vision, values, and purpose – these shouldn’t change often, but it helps to keep them in front of a team.
  5. Thematic Goal – If we accomplish nothing else in the next 12 months, what would that one thing be that the whole team could rally around.
  6. Strategic Initiatives – What are the 3-5 things that we can agree would most powerfully move us 90 days closer to that Thematic Goal.
  7. Tactical Steps – What are the things that need to happen in order to accomplish those strategic initiatives over the next 30 and 90 days – focus on ownership, timing, and measurable success.
  8. Personal Goal Setting – What are the 1 to 2 things you need to commit to change in your personal, spiritual, and professional domains – what are the tactical steps you need to next take – determine who will hold you accountable for those things.
  9. We provide pre-work with challenging questions that stretch them both personally and professionally.  We want them looking honestly and thinking strategically heading into the offsite.  While we don’t actively refer to the pre-work, it informs everything we do on that day.

Feeling a little stuck?  Aren’t clear on vision, values, or purpose?  Not sure what you strategically need to focus on?  Need some help in defying, organizing, and focusing a leadership team?  Let us know, we can help.

Whether it is Young Life weekend, an Alamo Band of Brothers boot camp, or a corporate offsite, a mountain experience is not what we are after.  Our quarry is irreversible change and we do everything we can to take serious ground, claim it, and then use intentional follow-up to monetize that experience.

Time to get away?

  • Do you and those you lead regularly get away to dream and plan?
  • When is the last time you did that?  When is the next one on the calendar?
  • If you haven’t done that in a while or have never done it, will you put something on the calendar today?  A different future awaits.