Monday, May 18, 2009

Retreat takes you to the next level

By Ayo Arowolo

I was at my usual place for a personal retreat, somewhere in Otta, Ogun State, last week. One of my daily routines is that I jog round the expansive compound four times. That should be close to six kilometers. Something happened while I was on the last lap. The lane I was led directly to the residence of the presiding Bishop of the place. While I was tailing off to the end of that lane, he was driving out of his house in a metallic Jeep. He stopped when he got to my point and wound down the glass of the window on his side. I walked up to him and the following conversation ensued.

Bishop: ”You are blessed. How are you?” Me:” I am fine sir”. Bishop: ”I am seeing you in your most relaxed state ever. Are you doing a retreat or something?” Me: ”Yes sir. I come here often”. Bishop : ”You must be having a nice time then because retreats are one of the best secrets of those who are going somewhere”. Me: ”I can confirm that sir”.

The chat lasted for about seven minutes. We talked about a few other things and I bade him farewell as I jogged back to my room. It was not the fact that I met him that I want to bring out. Something had happened while I was working things out in my room. I wanted to test a principle: That when you mix emotion with anything you desire, you would see result. I said to myself that day that I would like to see the Bishop the following day. Not for anything but just for a chat. It is always a pleasure listening to him. I thought for a long time on that desire and I slept off. The result manifested the following day!

That is one of the benefits of going regularly on personal retreats. A well planned retreat affords you the opportunity to think and experiment with a lot of things you cannot sort out while you are being consumed with the affairs of life.

What is a retreat? A retreat is a period when an individual separates himself or herself from the hustle and bustle of life and go to a quiet place for prolonged meditation (deep thinking) over pressing issues. The essence is to gain perspective on issues at hand. This is how my first financial mentor explained it to me during one of our meetings. He said: ”All the successful people I have either met or read about take this aspect (retreat) very seriously. Bill Gates, one of the world‘s richest men, goes to one of the Oriental countries once in a year for a separation session, to receive fresh instructions and flow of ideas. The Lord Jesus Christ had to go into the wilderness for forty days to receive instructions for his earthly mission. Without the inspiration that flowed into Him during this period, it would have been difficult to make much impact”.

He added: ”So, a separation session (retreat) is vital if you want to accomplish outstanding things while you are on this earth. The main goal of a planned, prolonged quiet time or a separation session, if you like, is to enable you to recharge your system for better performance thereafter. This is the rationale. When you truly work, you continuously give out of yourself. A separation session is a way of drawing back into yourself life‘s spiritual force. Working continuously without regular separation sessions is an open invitation to multiple crises. But unfortunately for most of us, our days are full of activities without quality progress. We wake up very early in the morning, jump on the road, chat idly with friends, bury ourselves in activities and eventually retire in the night, too tired to plan for the next day, for the next week, for the next month and for the next year. No time for relaxation. No time to play with family. This is where the seed of crisis is usually sown”.

He advised further: ”A separation session has to be planned. It doesn‘t have to be more than two days initially. As you get used to the habit of regularly staying away from the crowd to solve difficult challenges, you would discover that your life takes new meaning and you would be able to implement things faster. A separation session allows you to move away from being a participant to being an observer in the game of life. That affords you the opportunity to broaden your perspective on many issues that had been of concern to you.

To be effective, a personal retreat has to be planned. There are few things to make a personal retreat effective and successful.
First, before you embark on a separation session, determine very clearly what issue or challenge you want to tackle. Don‘t take along with you so many issues; otherwise you may not achieve much. Since this is your first time, I suggest you use the separation session to develop a personal plan for yourself. Use the period to work out how you will achieve all the dreams and goals for your life. I also suggest you use the time to set goals in these areas: finance, spiritual, health, career and family.

Use such occasions to reflect on your personal purpose and mission on this planet earth. The issue at stake is beyond money to do. You may need to change career quickly after such sessions.

In developing your personal mission, you may consider using the following theme questions: What are my dreams? What is my area of assignment? What would I like to achieve if money is not going to be a problem? What resources do I have to achieve my dreams? Who do I know that can work with me to achieve my dreams? What skills do I need to develop to achieve my dreams? What are the likely obstacles that may stand in the way? What are the milestones that would remind me if I am moving towards achieving my dreams? What are the motivations for striving to achieve my dreams? What are my strategies for achieving the goals I have set for myself? Ask other probing questions. Answers to these questions may lead you to develop a good draft that can be worked eventually into a plan.

Eat very moderately throughout the separation session. You don‘t have to fast. And if you have to fast, I suggest you do that a few days before you go for the separation session. In my own case, I eat once a day and drink freshly squeezed juice for the rest of the day. Furthermore, for best results, a minimum of three days and a maximum of one week is recommended. Use the first day to read, listen to tapes and reflect generally. You may not write anything down in the first day. Use the first day also to structure your schedule for the following day. Between the second and the third days, you should be able to come up with a document that you can perfect over the next few months. By extension, if you are married, I suggest you may go along with your spouse or go it alone first before accommodating your spouse.

After the first session, cultivate the habit of going on a separation session without fail once a month. Use this period to draw up strategy to achieve your plans

Monday, May 11, 2009

Powerful Seeds

A successful business man was growing old andknew it was time to choose a successor to take over the business. Instead of choosing one of his Directors or his children,he decided to do something different. He called all the youngexecutives in his company together.

He said, 'It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO.I have decided to choose one of you. 'The young executives wereshocked, but the boss continued. 'I am going to give each oneof you a SEED today - one very special SEED. I want you to plantthe seed, water it, and come back here one year from today withwhat you have grown from the seed I have given you. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will bethe next CEO.

'One man, named Jim, was there that day and he, like the others,received a seed. He went home and excitedly, told his wife thestory. She helped him get a pot, soil and compost and he plantedthe seed. Everyday, he would water it and watch to see if it hadgrown. After about three weeks, some of the other executives beganto talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow. Jim kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew.
Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing. By now, others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn't havea plant and he felt like a failure.
Six months went by -- still nothing in Jim's pot. He just knew hehad killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, buthe had nothing. Jim didn't say anything to his colleagues, however.He just kept watering and fertilizing the soil - He so wanted theseed to grow.
A year finally went by and all the young executives of the companybrought their plants to the CEO for inspection.

Jim told his wife that he wasn't going to take an empty pot.But she asked him to be honest about what happened. Jim felt sickto his stomach, it was going to be the most embarrassing momentof his life, but he knew his wife was right. He took his empty potto the board room.

When Jim arrived, he was amazed at the varietyof plants grown by the other executives. They were beautiful --in all shapes and sizes. Jim put his empty pot on the floor andmany of his colleagues laughed, a few felt sorry for him!When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his youngexecutives.Jim just tried to hide in the back. 'My, what great plants, trees,and flowers you have grown,' said the CEO. 'Today one of you willbe appointed the next CEO!

'All of a sudden, the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room withhis empty pot. He ordered the Financial Director to bring him tothe front. Jim was terrified. He thought, 'The CEO knows I'm afailure! Maybe he will have me fired!' When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happenedto his seed - Jim told him the story. The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Jim.

He looked at Jim,and then announced to the young executives, 'Behold your nextChief Executive Officer! His name is Jim!' Jim couldn't believe it. Jim couldn't even growhis seed.'How could he be the new CEO?' the others said.Then the CEO said, 'One year ago today, I gave everyone in thisroom a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it,and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds;they were dead - it was not possible for them to grow.

All of you, except Jim, have brought me trees and plants andflowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, yousubstituted another seed for the one I gave you. Jim was theonly one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot withmy seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the newChief Executive Officer!'
* If you plant honesty, you will reap trust
* If you plant goodness, you will reap friends
* If you plant humility, you will reap greatness
* If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment
* If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective
* If you plant hard work, you will reap success
* If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation

So, be careful what you plant now;it will determine what you will reap later..