Earlier this month, we held our annual Santa Fe Seminar with about 30 people from all over the country in attendance. There was a contingent from California but also people from the Midwest and East as well. Leadership and Design (www.leadershipanddesign.org) holds a number of workshops, seminars and gatherings and the one in Santa Fe is designed as time out and time away in order to have an opportunity to reflect, renew and regenerate. People seemed extraordinarily grateful for the experience and I believe there are several reasons for those expressions of deep and genuine gratitude for the gift of time away from the daily grind.
In the first place, most busy, committed people who spend their lives taking care of others do not often take time out for themselves either because they haven't yet figured out the value of doing that or because they aren't "selfish" enough and feel "guilty" being self-indulgent. All I can say to that is get over it and get on with it! You're worth it and you will be a whole lot better at taking care of others if you take care of yourself.
Secondly, there are so many other commitments in the name of professional development and meetings away from work (regional and national) that to add one more to the calendar seems hard to justify. To that I say you need to make yourself a higher priority and skip one of the other meetings. You will be glad (and grateful) that you did. Why do you think you have to attend all those other meetings anyway? Really? When you make and take time for yourself you are also serving as model for others who could derive a similar benefit for body, mind and spirit.
Lastly, making deeper and more meaningful connections with who you are and what you are about enables you to connect with others in more genuine and honest ways. As one of my friends says as one of her mantras, "Tell the truth, be kind and remember to say thank you!" To all who were in Santa Fe, I say thank you for sharing yourselves, for asking some penetrating and provocative questions and for demonstrating that you are among those who lead and serve with distinction. On behalf of the hundreds of people in your communities who count on you to inspire them to do their best work, I say thank you for your commitment, your courage and your continuing good work.
You are indeed a blessing to those who are privileged to know you and work with you on a daily basis.
And to the rest you who may read this blog, celebrate this Thanksgiving season with that attitude of gratitude that is contagious. Maybe we can create a different kind of epidemic and help more people catch the spirit. One final note of a previous exercise. Years ago I made a practice of writing, on average, five thank you notes each week based on what I had seen, heard or experienced that I believed was noteworthy. It was easy and the notes were handwritten, not emails. They were brief and signaled that I appreciated someone's effort to help make the community or organization a better place for all. These were sent to teachers, students, parents and colleagues as well as others in the larger community. Try it and see what happens.