I went to a fabulous retreat over the weekend with 22 other business women. The
‘Journey to Success Retreat’ was hosted by Company of Women, a truly unique and caring organization for women entrepreneurs and The Clarity Group, an inspirational powerhouse of health and wellness.
We could not have had a better backdrop. We were in Niagara on the Lake sharing the beauty of the fall colours and their unbelievable town flower arrangements. The hotel was stunning and provided every comfort you could imagine. Except the hot tub which was under construction. We were a little grumpy about that but it was hard to maintain when presented with at least 5 different chocolate and caramel laden desserts at every lunch and dinnertime buffet table. Continual dessert choice, very nice wine and the ability to assuage my food overabundance guilt with yoga and meditation the following morning made it an ideal weekend!
However, my favourite part of the retreat was the storytelling. In fact, it was a StoryFest!
Women entrepreneurs shared their business stories. Where they are at. What they had been doing. What they hope to achieve in the future.
We shared our personal stories. What our values are. What we like to do. Where we have been in the world.
Money stories were shared. We talked about what our relationship with money is like. Where it came from. How we value or de-value ourselves through our pricing and sales conversations.
Stories were used by outstanding facilitators to help us understand a point of view. Consider a new way of thinking. Hear about other people’s experiences. Emphasise a learning.
We made each other laugh and we made each other cry.
Stories connected us as a group and to each other individually. They created much craved commonality. They unearthed sometimes uncomfortable yet intriguing differences. Stories were the thread that weaved our group together. And kept it bound even when we wanted to cut ourselves off from hard truths discovered or our need to process new ways of thinking about ourselves.
We created a memory. A new story. To tell others. Just as I am telling you now. But we also created a new story for ourselves that we will to carry forward into our businesses and personal lives.
It is fascinating how the telling of stories can create so much possibility in just a couple of days!
As I was driving home it struck me that this really is the way forward for business. Connection. Collaboration. Sharing. Productivity. For we were nothing but productive with our time this weekend. Even when eating a multitude of desserts…
It also struck me that it is nothing new. Not rocket science. Not even difficult. We’ve been doing this for thousands and thousands of years. But maybe we just forgot for a little while how important stories are beyond the mandatory bedtime read to our kids.
People organize through stories. They may have suffered similar losses, health issues or difficulties. They share the stories of their experience and they join together to deal with it.
People disorganize through stories. Employees share their bad experiences, their tales of performance management gone wrong and the difficult/rude/abusive/stupid things their bosses do. They collectively wait impatiently for their work day or week to end. TGIF!
People learn through stories. The professor or course leader tells us something and they back it up with a vignette from their personal life and we remember. When we attend training, we learn from other people’s stories of what has worked well and what hasn’t.
Stories connect us. They inform. They inspire. They bind. They create a vibration of intimacy and understanding where none existed before.
When was the last time you participated in a StoryFest? If you haven’t done so for awhile, I highly recommend you find an opportunity to do so. Being listened to and being reminded that we are not alone contribute significantly to the development and maintenance of a healthy internal narrative and helps to create community.
Stories really are that powerful.
But don’t forget the desserts…