Renewal exercise for group retreats & offsite meetings

A “renewal” retreat exercise is designed and intended to give you peace and a blank slate to then create whatever is next. I modified this approach from annual business retreat and goal setting work, then combined it with personal growth work.

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  1. Review this whole thing together two times so that your entire group are partnered in the whole process.
  2. Your focus in this retreat is getting everything said and out there, not on “handling” any of it. Taking notes is a good idea but you will be throwing them away before the end.
  3. You will give each other room to share, inquire and be heard for everything that you have to say.
  4. There’s no need to discuss or work on anything. Just appreciate and get the communications from each other.
  5. Start with looking at and sharing all the major events that have transpired over time for each of you or between you. You can go all around or work in pairs, for time management. Go back and forth.
  6. Share all the things that you are proud of and grateful for: all the good things. Go back and forth. As any upsetting things come up. Just put those in your “bad” list. Keep going until you have shared all the good things you can think of.
  7. Share all your regrets, disappointments and upsets next. You could also start with the “bad” stuff before the “good,” the order is not critical. You may also notice that you bounce back and forth as you are reminded of things. Go back and forth and get it all out. It’s ok to apologize for things as they come up but don’t get sidetracked into any one issue. Get it all expressed.
  8. Get it all out, and allow the whole range of emotions and thoughts to arise. Don’t give up or leave the process. Don’t fixate on any one thing. Be committed to each other to getting it all out. Give each other permission to say ANYTHING. Accept and embrace it all. Practice being responsible for having created all these things and don’t worry about your partners role in anything bad.
  9. You can eventually get enough said that you get to a feeling of lightness, and emptiness. Your goal is to get it out and get to the feeling of a blank slate.
  10. When you get there, let it sink in. You can shred the paper, or burn it and toss it into the ocean, the toilet or garbage. Let it all go, the good and the bad. Experience the lightness and freedom fully.
  11. You can then begin to look at what you want for the future. What do you want for yourself? Your life? Your family? Your home? Your career? Your free time? Your hobbies? Your travel? Your romantic and intimate life? What kind of relationship do you want now? You can also then look at where you are aligned and inspired, and where you aren’t, and create whatever is next.

Good luck!

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Sissy McKee, CPLP - September 23, 2013 Reply

Great exercise, Bill! I have done something similar for new leader assimilations, but this would be very effective to get a team to turn the corner and start anew. As I read the write-up, I started thinking that it might be nice to add an element where each member writes their personal hopes and aspirations (#11) on a sheet of colored paper before we take them through the process of turning the sheet into an origami crane – a symbol of good fortune and long life in some Asian cultures. Each member can place the crane on their desk to remind them about their goals for living (and the positive feeling they had for the team when they made it)! What do you think?

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