Yes, you heard me right: whether I’ve been working with my client for years….or even if we are just at the very beginning of our coaching relationship and I don’t know my client that well yet…first and foremost, I am always going to love & honor my client.
The first retreat I ever led by myself was 2-days long, and a massive learning lesson for me.
Before this retreat, I had led other retreats…but they had always been co-led. I hadn’t done them on my own.
It was the first retreat of five in a 9-month mastermind. 20 incredible women.
I wanted very much to serve them well. And if I’m honest with myself, I also wanted to impress them. I wanted them to like me. No, to adore me. And to think I was brilliant. And to feel they had made the right choice by investing with me.
So that meant that even though I was so excited about this retreat….I was also ridiculously nervous.
I spent weeks preparing like crazy for the curriculum and buying supplies. I put in hours to memorize parts of what I was going to say. And finally the night before the retreat came.
I crawled into bed at about 10:30pm so that I could get a good night’s sleep, and…didn’t fall asleep until after 5am. I was so nervous that my thoughts were moving way too quickly for my brain to settle down and let me rest.
I got about 90 minutes of sleep that night, ran out the door in the morning with barely any breakfast inside me, fueled by adrenaline.
I could feel my heart beating so strongly inside of me the entire subway ride to the retreat site. My underarms were totally sweaty. And I found myself wishing to be anywhere but on my way to this retreat.
I got to the retreat site before anyone else was there, set up the room, and then ran to the bathroom to hide in a stall and calm myself down enough to do the work I was there to do.
Sitting on the toilet, I practiced breathing, told myself all was well, and prayed a lot to be able to show up fully and open to be able to support the women in the room.
Still shaking, I emerged from the stall and walked into the retreat room, reminding myself to smile big and open my heart
In many ways, that first day went phenomenally well.
We created sacred space together, the women were open and engaged, the rituals I led inspired great emotion and breakthroughs. They were learning a lot and beginning to create trust and sisterhood with each other.
But…I didn’t give them (or me) much of a morning break. I didn’t eat or drink anything during that break.
We also paused way later than I had anticipated for lunch. After 1:30pm. I was still so nervous and so pumped with adrenaline that I barely ate or gave myself moments to rest.
And…I was exerting myself more than I needed to. Using all of my life force energy to hold the space instead of allowing the space to be held.
We continued on that day until close to 6pm.
And I was hosting a dinner for them that night at a restaurant across town.
All of the women left to rest and then head over to the restaurant. I stayed in the retreat room, cleaning up everything all by myself. I hadn’t made sure to have help with me.
I packed up my little suitcase full of all the items I had brought (we did a lot of experiential exercises), and running late, ran outside to try and catch a cab to the restaurant.
But it was rush hour in NYC and there wasn’t a cab to be found.
So I walked. It took me 30 minutes, lugging my suitcase, to walk to this dinner that I was hosting.
On the walk to the restaurant, my exhaustion hit me.
It wasn’t a normal exhaustion. It was the most tired I had ever felt in my life. A worn-out-ness that took over my entire body and mind.
I arrived to the restaurant late, sweaty, totally drained….and in no shape to hold the space for everyone, let alone even stand up straight.
So instead of enjoying this celebratory dinner that I had worked so hard for, and instead of getting to connect with these new women I was serving….I let all of my clients know that I was tired and I hopped in a cab back to Brooklyn.
All at the same time, I was so relieved to get into that cab….but also I felt like I had failed by leaving early.
And within 2-3 minutes of being in that cab, my stomach started to feel extremely queasy. I wanted to tell the cab driver to stop and to jump out immediately, but that wasn’t an option because I didn’t even feel strong enough to say a word out loud.
It was somewhere on the Brooklyn Bridge that I began vomiting profusely. I just vomited all over the back seat of that taxi. The driver, rightfully so, was not too happy.
We finally arrived at my apartment, and Jon had to come downstairs and help me up. I collapsed onto our bed, weeping, not knowing how I’d make it to the retreat for the second day.
Somehow, though, after a nice warm bath with Epsom salt, and a hearty meal, I slept that night. And stepped into a beautiful, powerful and transformative second day of the retreat.
That retreat was a potent learning experience for me. Here are some of the biggies:
- Always make sure you eat enough and that your body is nourished before, during and after a retreat.
- Take actions to calm down and balance your nervous system before, during, and after retreats.
- Get enough sleep.
- Get support for setup and clean up at retreats, even if it feels easy-peasy to do on your own.
- Take lots of bathroom breaks, eat during snack times, break for lunch at a reasonable hour.
- Give yourself and your participants plenty of open time.
- Be fully present, yet don’t fall into the belief that you need to hold the space all on your own.
- Serve because it is your mission and passion, not because you want to impress.
It would be a lie to say that I don’t still get nervous before retreats (& I’ve led dozens and dozens since that first one!). Nervousness is more than OK. It’s how you handle the nervousness and prepare for it that counts.
Would love to hear from you on some of your retreat tales of woe and what you learned!
It’s true that I’m known as one of the best workshop, ritual and retreat facilitators in the industry, but what you probably don’t know is this: In my nearly 20 years of facilitating (& training others to facilitate!), I’ve made tons of mistakes. Not just little mistakes, but real biggies. The kinds that are cringe-worthy and the kinds that I’ve shed some real tears over.
But that’s how I’ve learned and that’s how I’ve developed so many of my facilitation tips and tools.
I decided it would be fun to share 3 Case Studies with you on mistakes I’ve made and the facilitation tools that came out of them.
Want to know THE most important component of Transformational Facilitation & Coaching?
It’s not about the facilitation skills you master – of course, those are SUPER important and necessary in order to create results and deep healing for your participants. READ MORE
Folks who experience my retreats, workshops and talks often ask me how I am able to create and lead events where participants feel so present, so vulnerable, so connected to me and each other, and so deeply transformed.
My answer is always the same: MASTERY.
You need to master your coaching and facilitation skills in order to go from leading a “nice” event to leading a “WOW” event.
You need to master your coaching and facilitation skills to create experiences that your audiences will never forget.
(integrate this into EVERY coaching session, workshop, retreat and curriculum you create)
If you’re keyed in to the self-development and transformation industries, you know that a lot of folks right now are pretty pissed off at the services they’re receiving:
They are complaining that they’re not shifting,
they’re not learning,
they’re not transforming,
and they’re not growing.
Now of course, some of the complaints are total BS (excuse my language).
The Transformational industry that I love so dearly is rapidly changing right now, and I want you to know what you can do to ensure that you are a practitioner who is totally in integrity, totally fulfilled, totally doing the deep and sacred work you’re meant to be doing…and to ensure that you are one of the practitioners who will actually have staying power as we leap into the next decade of this industry.
Before I get to the critical pieces here, let me say this: I’m going to be sharing some hard truths, but with love and compassion. I want you to know that even with all of the critiques and hard truths I’ll be sharing, I absolutely love the coaching & transformational industries. It is one of the honors of my life to be one of the leaders of the industry. I believe there is so much goodness and so many wonderful practitioners. I believe that we are indeed making a very positive impact in the world. READ MORE
I’m very excited to share this week’s article with you.
But before we get there: I am THRILLED about the response we’ve had to the Overcome the Fear Barrier Skills Guide.
As I’ve watched this community grow & grow over the years, it makes me proud to know that I am standing side by side with so many leaders that care so deeply about QUALITY DELIVERY, that care so deeply about the results you co-create with your clients, that care so deeply about making READ MORE
In 2011, my business was doing OK. My private client roster was pretty full and I had been successfully leading an online program that was pretty popular.
But a few things were missing:
1) It had been two years since I had led any kind of in-person retreat or extended workshop, and I was craving being with clients and community members in sacred space in this way, craving leading women to their depths in community together, craving the very special kind of magic that can only happen when you are in circle, in person, with stellar facilitation leading the way. READ MORE