Away day is not a very evocative phrase for the kind of deep thinking we did away from our desks and divorced from our expectations of what a working day should look and feel like. Away day sounds like a bit of a doss, when in actuality my brain performed somersaults as we reflected, analysed, criticised and visualised; Sometimes times 10. The world looks different upside down - This is what I saw.
1. All of the things I am good at.
It can be difficult to see your self clearly; To understand how you are interacting with a situation or project in the moment of doing. The first activity we did on our away day enabled me to time travel back to key moments in the past four months and take up a birds eye view. The tools were extremely simple; Plot those moments on a timeline graph, marking them either higher or lower on the line depending on how much you enjoyed each moment and ultimately creating a mountain range of experiences. We then went back to each point and reflected on what we did, what our strengths were, what resources we used and what we learned.
Travelling back in time to specific events, armed with probing questions, gave me the opportunity to revisit moments and see what I was actually doing, thinking and feeling in that moment. I came back to the present carrying a suitcase full of new insights, understandings and things I do well.
2. A vision x 10.
The power of this exercise lies in the space created between taking the wheels off of ideas to let them take flight and drilling down on the detail. We first imagined what the company could be doing in 10 years time, we then magnified those ideas by 10. The same process was applied to ourselves. It was interesting to see how much less resistance I felt pushing the times 10 button for the company than I felt doing it for myself; However, once my initial resistance was overcome, I felt the delight of a small child writing down their Christmas list with no thought of whether their parents have the means to buy them a pony. The exercise helped to bully me into thinking big; Into visualising possibilities stretched outside of the parameters I have programed myself to see as probable. Going into the specifics of how these ‘outlandish fantasies’ would look and function was a much more sobering process, yet it was surprising to see that all of our x10 visions were possible and could be the guiding light for both ourselves and the company.
3. Plot ahead, don’t just think ahead.
One of the moments I revisited during the reflection on a timeline exercise was that time when Write Talk Listen created a five year plan. Thinking back, I realised how much I enjoyed the process of not just projecting ideas and plans forward but going one step further and organising those ideas onto a future timeline. It’s mid January and ideas for 2017 can already be seen bursting their buds, deepening my understanding that planning how an idea will work in time and space is one of the things that helps it to crystallise.
Bleary eyed and caffeinised we rounded up the day by looking back over our five plan, further chiselling out priorities as well as turning ideas around in our heads looking for holes and sharp edges. It was like a strategic review and another one of my big learning’s was how vital reviewing is, in the evolution of project and self. It’s only by writing that down right now that I understand how important it is to do a strategic review regularly, in all areas of life. How different it is to saying something in your head, saying it out loud and writing it down. Write, Talk, Listen! We now have a secret handshake.