May 19, 2008
Going Somewhere Uncomfortable
This past weekend, I went to a retreat with a group of 60 or so eclectic people representing various disciplines from as far away as Lithuania and Germany and as close as San Francisco. We all made our way up to Northern Marin's Marconi Center, roughly an hour or so north of the Golden Gate Bridge.
To get to Marconi, you drive through a natural wonderland along winding roads, where you can hear birds throughout the day regardless of what time it is.
The horizon draws you in, the landscape takes you away and the oyster shacks alongside the road between the Tomales and Point Reyes road is a west coast version of Maine’s Route One.
I’m a huge believer in having retreats in remote places surrounded by as much natural beauty as possible. It is in this kind of environment where you force yourself to forget about your other world, just for a little while, long enough to take in new ideas, process them in a different way than you otherwise would and more effectively assimilate them after you return.
So what did we do and talk about? We covered topics that ranged from the American education crisis, Open Education Resources, the upcoming election, the ongoing debate over journalism as we knew it versus the wisdom of the crowds, how meaning can migrate across media, art form as a platform, visual artists, open software, the concept of unbooks, how we translate what we thought of as narrative in the traditional sense into the ‘wide open online’ world we have today, and how we’re always living in transformation. We also quite possibly redefined what a guild could look like in the 21st century.
Some words of wisdom: weak ties are not about love, they’re about information. Go to the other side and learn how others think so you know how to talk to them. You can make a difference merely by showing up. It’s remarkable how often we forget this.
In terms of things that block us to getting to the next level, whether that means expanding our businesses or social worlds where we exist, we discussed emotion and how we can effectively do that across corporate cultures, within organizations between right and left brains and with each other in our daily lives.
And then there were nature walks, pool in a saloon pub in Point Reyes, meditation, storytelling of a time with art that transformed us, and throwing brightly colored rockets at each other sling-shot style.
My second favorite line all weekend was this: “Film will become an art when the cost of making film is as cheap as it is to make poetry.”
This was my favorite:
We often don’t know what the benefits are to go somewhere uncomfortable.
My response to that statement? How often have you gained more clarity from going somewhere uncomfortable? And, how often has the quality of your life gone through the roof (or at a minimum, marginally improved) when you have walked through an incredibly uncomfortable experience?
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