Last week I completely unplugged and headed to a retreat that was eight days of no joke, no technology and no communication with the outside world (kids, team or otherwise) in Northern California at The Hoffman Institute. My coach Paula told me about the Hoffman Process some eight years ago, and I embarrassingly dismissed it. I was “too busy” and “too overwhelmed.” A few weeks ago I had breakfast with my uncle, whom I deeply admire and respect. He is a very successful entrepreneur who leads a truly authentic life – infusing work, travel and balance – that I aspire to have. When he mentioned that he and my aunt completed the process a few years back, I knew it was time.
“The teacher appears when the student is ready.”
There were 40 people in the room from all corners of the world – from Brazil to Singapore to Canada to Texas. What I loved most was Rule #1: You can’t tell people what you do for a living; there is no talk of work. People hide out in their titles and professions, and it’s a distraction and creates judgments. That was very liberating right off the path. We were simply humans. The week was intense, definitely not work for the weak. I’m still trying to digest and unpack all that I learned over those eight days, but that will be for another time.
As I gently try to ease back into reality with my new way of being, the one thing I keep anchoring back to from the week is a beautiful piece one of our leaders read on the final day. The allegory keeps playing over and over in my head.
I’ve never read a more powerful piece that got right to the heart of what we do and why we do it. It felt like the most eloquent representation of what Laney and I are, and an unwavering stand for every team trying to make it day in and day out:
“When you see geese flying along in ‘V’ formation, you might consider what science has discovered as to why they fly that way. As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in ‘V’ formation, the whole flock adds at least 71 percent greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.
When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone – and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front.
When the head goose gets tired, it rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point.
Geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.
When a goose gets sick or is wounded by gunshot, and falls out of formation, two other geese fall out with that goose and follow it down to lend help and protection. They stay with the fallen goose until it is able to fly or until it dies, and only then do they launch out on their own, or with another formation to catch up with their group. If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by each other like that.” (Source: Unknown)
Our instructor stopped. There wasn’t a dry eye in our circle. It was beautiful.
The essence of this piece is clear: People who share a common direction, acceptance, guidance and leadership, and who have a visceral understanding of community, can get where they are going swiftly and with ease when they are traveling on the thrust of one another.
If we have the spirit of a goose, we will be in realization with those people who are headed on the same path but are willing to take turns leading and empowering. They realize the freedom and stability in equanimity. What messages are you giving to your team when you honk from behind? Do you feel like your team is operating like a flock of geese, or do you feel like you’re herding bedbugs day in and day out?
If you’re interested in flying in “V” formation, click here to schedule your Business Empowerment Strategy Session.