I hosted my first retreat over the weekend. After months of planning, inviting and executing, it finally went down.
It was amazing.
Was its success due to organization, location and flow? Sure, those things helped. But really, it was something much bigger and less tangible than all of that. What made it truly awesome were the people who came to participate in the process. And would you believe that I barely knew any of them? This wasn't a retreat full of supportive friends or clients, but people who were brand new to me. Most of whom had never attended something like this before. Some were there because someone they barely knew told them they should look into it.
One of the hardest things to do when you're a high achiever is to surrender and allow things to unfold. We want a checklist, deadlines and CERTAINTY that what we are about to embark upon is going to go as planned. Does that work? Maybe. But you can also be hindered by controlling every last detail. Letting go of the plan can mean making space for something even better to happen.
When I was sending invitations for the retreat, I had a good idea of the people who would be a good fit and might have interest. One by one, those people fell off as the timing didn't work for them. Did I freak out? No, because I knew they were genuinely interested, and if it sounded good to them, it would sound good to other people, too. I didn't know who those others would be, but I knew they would show up.
And show up, they did.
The first night, we sat in a circle around the fire at this beautiful retreat house in the cool spring air with glasses of wine in hand. The bond between us began to form as each shared why they were there and what they hoped to get out of the weekend. I was in awe of those who admitted they didn't exactly know what it was about and what it could do for them, but they had the courage to come because it felt right. Some pretty funny stuff came out of that uncertainty, as well. One attendee said he called his mom on the way, and because he wasn't sure what the retreat entailed, she warned him that he may be walking into a cult gathering. Bahaaaa!
As we did the work and had some laughs, my appreciation for each and every person grew. There was such good energy in this group that by the end, I was in complete awe. All the control and planning in the world couldn't have created what we just experienced. I couldn't have put together a more perfectly aligned group. I didn't have to. I allowed the "who will come" piece to go down the way it needed to, and lo and behold, the magic of that trust revealed itself, in the form of this group of people who I feel much richer for having experienced. I know they feel the same way about each other, too.
I mean, who could have anticipated that because one person showed up to the dinner table with gin and juice that we would decide that gangsta rap should accompany our meal? You can't plan for that level of awesome.
When you’re working on something, be sure to balance the planning with allowing. Create the framework that will support what you want, but then leave a little space to allow for the what if. It is highly likely that when you take the inspired step but loosen your grip on control, the outcome will far exceed your expectations.
Can you pick one thing in your life that you should loosen control over and do some allowing? It's okay to be nervous. Acknowledge and try it anyway. You might be blown away by what happens next.