February 2003 proved to be the busiest month in my life on record. In its 28 days, I made nine corporate and public presentations. Two were at the Asia Pacific Life Insurance Congress to audiences totalling about 14,000 persons. In that same month, I finalised details for my mountaineering expedition to Mexico, a media conference and Feb 28th saw me at over 4000 metres in the central volcano range of Mexico , hauling a load in preparation for a summit climb.
Despite the physical labours, I felt that the actual climbing was a retreat from the really draining work in the corporate world. My mountaineering is, in many ways, a necessary retreat that we all need to re-charge our batteries.
So what can we do to use such a retreat meaningfully?
First – define ‘RETREAT‘. If you can still be bugged constantly by all and sundry, the time -out you are taking is not a retreat. It’s like lying on a gorgeous beach while trying to cut a major deal over your cell-phone. A retreat should have a definite beginning and end. Sort out your corporate life before you go, delegate work or ask a colleague to hold the fort.
Your time-out should begin with some REFLECTION. Count on all your successes in the past 6 months ( or 12 ), think about why you succeeded. But before you bask in that glow of success, consider also the areas where you failed to achieve your goals. Look at your personal and professional life. Make sense of where you are and what you need to do ( as opposed to want to do ). After you’ve mapped out these pluses and minuses, move to the next phase of your time-out.
The next phase is RE-CHARGING your batteries. You may find relaxation and de-stressing works best in a spa. Some may find long walks great for contemplation. Leave the cell-phone switched off. Combine these activities with some healthy eating. Perhaps you may already have been on a rigorous diet regime. Now’s the time to indulge a bit. Everyone needs to find his or her favoured re-charging experience. For me, standing on Mexico’s highest summit in the cold light of dawn and in a bitter wind was part of this experience. Sharing a triumphant hug with my summit climb partner on El Pico de Orizaba ( 5700m ) was an emotional high. It was also an essential part of shaking down a month of hard work in front of the computer and presenting to thousands of people.
The last phase of your time-out should really be REJOICING, a celebration of where you’ve been in your life, figuratively, as well as celebrating all the good things and people around you. Like they say, count your blessings and not your worries.
Are you ready for your next time-out?