The perfect end to a year? Life Retreat.

Hopefully you are sliding into holiday mode and the most troublesome thing on your mind is nailing the ratio of rosemary:thyme:garlic for the prime rib. Me too.

Today I’m deviating from our normal topics to share one of my favorite end of the year traditions: a Life Retreat. It’s one of the highest life ROI ways to invest a few days, carving out time to step away from daily life to distill my learnings from the year ending and gear up for the year ahead. It’s my best chance to recalibrate day to day life with long term objectives, to pressure test the trajectory I’m on with the trajectory I want to be on.

In my experience, the real keys to crafting a high impact Life Retreat are:

  • take 2-3 days – any thing less doesn’t allow you to completely separate from day to day life
  • a relaxing setting, for me it’s a mountain range somewhere
  • really good food + abundant charcuterie
  • a comfortable house with a good view from the porch (3 cheers for AirBnb)
  • the perfect mix of hiking to clear the mind & reflect, and down time to journal or whiteboard or whatever seems like the best way to mind map
  • identify in advance the big questions/topics you want to mentally wrestle down

Earlier this month I went on my 2020 Life Retreat so I thought I’d share 5 of my big learnings from this year:

  1. Play long term games with long term people. Build relationships like they are the only thing that matters. Because they are the only thing that matters.
  2. Hit send.Put the idea in the world. Let publishing be a forcing function for action, whether publishing means hitting send on a newsletter, a tweet, or an email to a target customer. Even when you’re a little nervous to do so, or, maybe especially when you’re a little nervous to do so.
  3. Process disciplineI can’t control outcomes. I can, however, control the design and execution of my process. Am I executing on the things that increase the probability of the outcomes I want to see? Am I doing it consistently? Am I refining the process as I go?
  4. Curiosity & humility are pre-requisites for making an impact. In early stage ventures / new products, curiosity is what leads to uncovering what others missed. And humility is what lets people successfully follow where their curiosity leads, whether by asking that critical question or updating an outdated mental model.
  5. I am responsible for what I focus on. 2020 usually felt like the whole world was burning down, but look at history….when isn’t that the case? I deactivated my Facebook account and disabled push notifications for news but still had to daily & actively manage how much 2020-ness I fed my mind. Regardless of the crazy happening out in the world, I have to stay focused on what matters to me and my work. This lesson was poignant in 2020.

It’s been a doozy of a year for everyone, including those in the meat & livestock industry, from growers navigating volatile markets to processors navigating the overnight loss of the entire foodservice channel, and every other extreme that 2020 indiscriminately served up, including human loss.

But now is a time to celebrate every inch of progress made this year….especially this year. Maybe the biggest industry win this year was that despite the calls for a “more resilient food supply chain”, I think we saw that the food supply chain *IS* resilient. Plenty of room for improvement? Always. But the system held. And yet, the chaos created by COVID-19 will definitively shape the industry for decades to come, whether it’s the acceleration of remote work, digitization of supply chains, the drive towards de-commoditization, or any of the others we could list.

Here’s to capturing every single personal and professional learning that this year served up and heading into 2021 ready to win. I hope you have a great holiday season!


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