Golden Visions and Associates | Coaching for Success
Thought for the Week
Your Success Thought for the Week of April 1, 2009
The Wisdom of Silent Retreats
I am often asked to revisit the concept of 'silent retreats' as it is one of my clients' favorite tools.  Many claim it to be one of the top ten things they've ever done.

'Much Needed' Example:
Max's first silent retreat was in 2000 after a tumultuous decade of divorce, surviving cancer, and being fired from what he believed to be his dream job.
Positive aspects of his life in 2000 included being in the best physical shape of his life, finding new love, and soaring in his newest professional endeavor. 
With colliding forces, both positive and negative, Max needed a breather.  Each experience in the past decade brought with it tremendous learning.  Yet Max was too busy for the type of such soul searching that would make him the best he could be, building upon both successes and perceived failures.   

'Typical' Example:
Martha is a driver, hugely successful with everything she touches.  People say she's lucky. Some are envious of how well-balanced she seems and that she has the ability to take time for herself when needed to avoid overwhelm.
What people don't know is that this time-off ritual was a learned part of Martha's success.  When I first met her, the only thing that kept her away from work was stress-related illness.  She mistakenly believed her company could not run without her. Her personal life was nowhere near as rich as it is today.

The last thing Max or Martha wanted was time away from work and family.  Common threads were: "They need me...if I take time off I need to spend it with my family...what if something goes wrong in my absence...isn't this selfish...what would I do with myself?"
The Process:
Once convinced to experiment with this concept, Max and Martha took two different routes. 
  • Max stole away for four days on his sailboat and moored at his favorite secluded island.  He could hike, walk, fish, write and lounge.
  • Martha pulled out a map of a neighboring state, closed her eyes and pointed to a brand new location that she'd never explored.
The Goal:
The goal of a silent retreat is to spend time alone with no outer demands penetrating your mind, time or energy.  You have no outside influences-no TV, radio, newspapers, or motivational CD's. 
Listen only to the sounds of nature and to yourself, to what has been buried underneath your myriad of responsibilities.  Bring a journal to explore your thoughts in writing.  Studies show we think 60,000 thoughts each day and that 75% of those thoughts are negative.  You can only stand so much negativity on paper.  Soon your creativity will flow, expand, and even explode like the most amazing fireworks display you've ever seen. 
Among the questions you might ask yourself are:
  • Who have I become?
  • Is this what I envisioned - who I want to be?
  • Am I the husband/wife/partner I want to be?
  • Am I the leader I want to be?  What would it be like to follow my lead?
  • Am I the _______ (the list goes on, make it your own.)
  • What do I want...for my business, family, self?
  • What do I want to learn and experience?
  • What do I like about myself?  My life?
  • What do I want to improve about myself? My life?
  • How do I think, behave, learn to be the best that I can be?
  • What will I change in order to become who and what I desire?
The Result:
Both Max and Martha were forever changed after their first silent retreat.  They now schedule these retreats in regular intervals and insist on those closest to them doing the same.  It is a win-win for everyone involved.
I encourage you to take these suggestions to heart.  Give yourself the gift of a silent retreat in whatever form fits your budget, schedule and style.  Schedule it today.
If you know someone who is in need of some refreshing, amazing silence please pass this 'success thought' along to them.  It will be your gift to them.
Enjoy your discoveries and have an insightful week.

To see more of my published articles, go to:GV&A, Coaching for Success and then click on Writing and Wisdom across the top.

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Permission is granted to either reproduce copy or distribute "Your Success Thought for the Week" for April 1, 2009 as long as this copyright notice and full information about contacting the author is attached. The author is Ann Golden Eglé, GV&A, Golden Visions & Associates, Coaching for Success, 541.385.8887, PO Box 1696, Bend, Or. 97709.