How well do you understand your challenges?

I just spent three days surfing coffee shops in small towns in the Columbia gorge. I turned off Slack and email. I was alone with my thoughts as I went from location to location. View to view. One cup of coffee to another.

It was somewhere around the 8th or 9th personal retreat that I’ve done in the past ten years.

This time, I wanted to focus solely on business strategy.

It was an odd experience. I kept circling in a loop around my values, the business vision, pulling out my calculator app, running numbers, checking our analytics, checking search stats.

I had intended it to be a high level assessment. But very quickly, I got pulled into that loop. The next day, I stepped back again and then got pulled into that loop once more.

I think what caused these deep dives was that I was trying to figure out the feasibility of our strategy. I went into the retreat thinking that I needed to make fundamental changes and flesh out a plan, but as I thought about it and checked our progress, the challenges were more tactical than strategic.

You probably think about your goals and obstacles regularly. We all do. But we don’t get much clarity in casual passes.

Imagine a potters wheel with a half formed clay pot on it.

The way we normally operate, we sit down at the wheel, put our hands to the pot, and spin it twice. Then we get up and walk away.

A personal retreat is like sitting at the wheel for hours, spinning it, feeling for the impurities and bumps. Trying to figure out what the shape should be. In that focused experience, insight is revealed.

Want to do a personal retreat? I first learned about the concept from Sherry Walling. Checkout her guides on it here: Personal Retreats

Featured image is of the Egyptian god, Khnum, “The Divine Potter,” creating another god on his potter’s wheel. By Roland Unger used under CC BY-SA 3.0,