There is one thing in my life for the last few years that is non-negotiable: I AM going on a business retreat, preferably outside the United States.
I've been a member of the Nashville chapter of Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) since 2008. The EO story and its value are deep and wide...if you want to know more, check out the EONashville.com website (yes, Keystone did that.) The short story is that EO is for (1) individuals who are the founder/co-founder/controlling shareholder of (2) a company with annual revenues exceeding $1MM US (3) who wants to learn and grow as a business owner and person.
Each year my small group of five peers (called a "Forum") and I go on our annual retreat. My Forum has a reputation for doing retreat to the extreme. It started eight years ago during our first meeting. We knew Forum Retreat is a standard 'must-do' in EO, but we wanted to go all out. Some Forums rent a cabin in the mountains or go to the beach. The Ocho (we're Forum #8) takes off to a foreign country.
So far, The Ocho has traveled to Isla Mujeres, Costa Rica, St. Maarten, Turks & Caicos, Cabo San Lucas, Truckee CA (I still think California is a foreign country), and lastly...Medellin, Colombia. And yes, Medellin is FANTASTIC.
So why so dedicated to international travel? I have my reasons.
1. Get uncomfortable.
There is nothing more thrilling to The Ocho than riding the Metro in Medellin, Colombia relatively confident that we're going in the right direction and very confident that we might get lost or have an experience like no other. Getting out of your comfort zone - either in business or a 'scary' foreign country is good for the soul.
Our treks out of the country give us an extended opportunity to work (yes, we actually do work) on intractable business problems and opportunities.
3. Thinking and debating time.
These week-long retreats give us the time and space to think deeply and discuss issues at length...the sort of time and attention that we don't always have when we're at home.
The time spent away always has the inevitable effect of getting me fired up to come home and get things done. I get never-before-seen perspective on the things we want to get done and the vision to make them happen.
Nothing will make you appreciate home like a trip to another land. From a far-flung location, you'll begin to understand the gift we've been given in the United States to do our own thing, build our future, and achieve some measure of gratification in the pursuit of happiness.
Do yourself a favor, get out of town. You just might learn something.