Reflections from a staff retreat…

Posted on October 14, 2009


Staff Retreat

This past weekend, leaders from all over the world gathered for our annual staff retreat. Leaders spanned from locations like the OC, LA, Dallas, Mexico City, Bangkok, London, Brazil, and China. We ranged from full, part, and volunteer staff. The purpose was to hear stories and to get encouraged as we prepare for another year of service to our various communities. Some leadership musings I observed:

  • When asked to identify with one step among the five phases of mastery (Exploration, Imitation, Divergence, Crisis, and Mastery) that you currently most identify with, most people claimed ‘exploration’. I found this interesting. We naturally perceive other leaders in a more secure place than our own. We assume others have their ‘act’ together and have a clear plan for their own lives. The truth is, we should be spending a significant amount of our lives exploring new endeavours. We should not be afraid to re-invent ourselves and step out in faith. The reason why we don’t like exploration is that it brings insecurities about your own value to an organization. However, explorers are actually the most valuable asset a team has. Here is my formula for why exploration is important: Exploring = growth, and growth = health, and health = ideas. I am proud to be among explorers.     

  • The second most common step people identified with was ‘crisis’. A significant amount of people asking; “Why am I here? Why am I doing this job? Does what I do matter?” Crisis is a necessary step in the development of ANYTHING of value, yet we are always surprised by it. The only way to reach mastery is to push through crisis. The other option is to return to exploration. There is not wrong direction but only wrong intentions. Choose which way to go based on what is right for you not to please others or an organization. Crisis is the key to reaching mastery- expect it.    

  • One leader said “I am in an interim position, but actually we are all in interim positions…” This is so true. An effective, creative leader sees his role as ‘inteim’. That means not clutching onto job descriptions, titles, or positions. In this current environment, we must be flexible, adaptable, and growth-oriented. We should all hold our positions with an open hand and allow for potential to move freely in our lives.    

  • Story is our power. There were two opportunities to hear stories; through public sharing and through writing a one page summary of the year. Like I mentioned before, it’s easy to assume life is great for others and sucks for yourself. To hear/read the pain, struggle, and authenticity of other leaders helps bond a community together. Story helps to emotionally tie you to others and to other communities in a way that no numbers, dollars, or structure can. Regardless of community or country, we are all the same with the same problems, pains, and victories.    

  • Never under-estimate the power of shared experiences. Whether it’s sharing stories, laughing at awkward moments, singing songs, or crying together, shared experiences accelerates relationships like nothing else. Working together does not mean growing together. Be intentional about creating shared experiences for your team.   

  • One last thing. Egos are destructive. To be on a team that lacks them is refreshingly empowering. A team of humble leaders has unlimited potential.

I am grateful and humbled to be a part of the global Newsong family. Erwin McManus once said, ‘there are 6.7 billion people out there that don’t know me, I am nobody…’ Billions of people out there don’t know who I am, but I am thankful to be known by a handful of courageous servant/leaders of the Newsong staff.


Posted in: Creative Leaders