Retreat to Advance

“Can you just teach them how to be good presenters?” is something I love to hear. “Can you do it in 60 minutes?” is not.

Ah, the time poor lament of the 21st century. We can give tips in that time but changing behaviour is more challenging.

Modern life makes us think we can fit everything in, and then some. From my own experience as a mother I juggled children’s sports and school schedules, managed homework and play dates, ran every day, gave fabulous dinner parties and ran a company feeling very busy and important, with back to back meetings and an inbox you couldn’t climb over.

But this “busyness” gets in the way when it comes to learning and development as facilitators are asked to give tasters rather than a banquet. We are truly spoiled with the wide range of mediums we can now use for training. Apps, business games, online programs, conferences, podcasts, traditional face to face training, whatever the need, we have the ability to mix it up. And each one of those can work really, really well as long as it is designed with the participant in mind, and facilitated well.

But I do have a personal favourite. It’s the good, old fashioned retreat. The very mention of it evokes images of drinking cocktails in spas and late nights laughing about “what happens on retreat, stays on retreat”. Hence the reason many corporates throw out a resounding no to the suggestion. Besides, there’s safety in being busy back at HQ.

Yes, a retreat takes time. But that’s the reason why it works. Think about the word retreat. To withdraw, to retire from your manic, overloaded life and stop to learn and grow.

Whether it’s a company retreat, or one designed around a specific skill, here’s why immersion at a rural retreat works:

1. Away from your office and your comfort zone, you have no distractions and are freed up to think

2. This environment opens up space in your head for creativity, problem solving and strategic thinking

3. You build and strengthen genuine relationships in this environment, working together, supporting each other, feeding off each other’s energy

4. Learning is accelerated in this climate and your 3 days becomes super productive

5. Most of all, each day’s learning marinates in your mind overnight as you work on the next day’s goals. This means it has a chance to ferment and slide into long term memory

And that means your people and your bottom line get real value.

The demand for learning is greater than it’s ever been. Bersin by Deloitte’s latest research with Glassdoor shows that learning and career opportunities are the biggest drivers of employees’ willingness to recommend their company as a great place to work for people under age 40.

Companies are demanding a lot from their L & D teams. Get it done in less time, is the mantra I hear often.

But if you really want some serious, long term learning to stick, consider the retreat, Fresh air, fresh perspectives and fresh, inspired employees.

Lynne Schinella is running a Speaker Retreat for Executive Women, 9 – 12 October, 2016 at Spicers Hidden Vale in QLD. More info at

Follow Lynne @lynneschinella

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