“Run Away, Run Away!” — How to Retreat Successfully

There’s a difference between ‘escaping’ and ‘retreating’. This week’s blog shows how taking time for yourself in your day or week or month can improve productivity!


Hello Successful Creatives!

The phrase called out in our title, “Run away! Run away!” is from the 1975 still-loved-film “Monty Python and The Holy Grail” (Directed by Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones and featuring the hilarious John Cleese, Graham Chapman and Eric Idle). We laugh at this cry in the film with recognition. After all, it’s what we all want to do in times of pressure: Escape, Escape!

There’s a difference between ‘escaping’ and ‘retreating’.

The writers of Monty Python were effectively satirizing the tested and respected war strategy of retreat, identifying the more base, reflexive and protective nature of turning away, as distinct from that of the more admired instinct to pause, regroup and regain strength for another go.

Essentially the difference between escaping and retreating is in the intent. Escape is often a semi-unconscious behavior, defensive in nature with the intent of protection or evasion from a perceived or real threat and it gets activated from a place of powerlessness. Retreat on the other hand, is more conscious in nature, taken from a place of perceived power, with the intent of gaining more power.

Retreating is smart beyond times of crisis.

Ideally, retreating is strategic and proactive. Conscious retreating is one of best productivity boosters and fastest routes to success, delivering reward in many important arenas of life: love, health, business and wealth.

Retreating is a key piece of our CSE success strategy. We practice a form of retreat with our team internally, meeting regularly in weekly huddles and quarterly team retreats. We also teach it to our clients in our various professional and personal masterminds, and of course, we design retreating right into the structure of our programs as well, sequestering our clients in local or distant luxury environments where they can work with each other, away from the rest of the world.

Another difference between escaping and retreating is planning.

Escape is usually spontaneous. Retreating should be planned.



Why retreat?

Most meaningful experiences involve a piece of stretching and activate stress in the body. Building a business is no different — it’s exciting and also stressful! We don’t set out to win a marathon without planning to increase the amount of water and nutrients in our routine. Replenishing depleted stores of energy is a necessary part of any successful plan when growing any thing.

Some sobering stats about stress to cajole all of you creative, workaholic cynics (like me) out there:

  • Stress is the cause of 80% of all human illness and disease
  • 3 out of 4 doctor’s visits are for stress-related illnesses
  • 1 in 5 Americans experience “extreme stress” — shaking heart palpitation and depression on a regular basis

You’ve got to manage the stress if you want to make money and have a stable business for a long time.

There are lots of ways to retreat:

  • For beginners, start with sleep by adding just 1 extra hour of sleep to either end of your day
  • Get out of Dodge! — 3 Days or more for a radical shift in results back at home
  • 1-day retreat to a spa or nature conservatory
  • 1-hour/day turn off email (try the “Cold Turkey” app)
  • 15 minutes/day in meditation (For our more restless folk, check out Deepak Chopra’s “Spontaneous Fulfullment of Desire” or “The Healing Codes” which provide effective ways to meditate beyond “quieting the mind.”)

Here are some tips to milk the most return from your retreat strategy:

  • Retreat regularly (Choose a way to retreat 1x/day; 1x/week; quarterly; bi-annually and annually — ideas above)
  • Plan ONE focus for your retreat (I.e. meditation; goals charting; getting 1 project finished)
  • Stop ‘noise’ from entering your retreat space and experience
  • Delegate work while you’re away so stress doesn’t pile up the moment you return
  • Retreat together!

Finally, here are some statistics and facts to encourage you to put a “Run Away!” plan into your overall business growth strategy:

  • In 2006, the accounting firm Ernst & Young did an internal study of its employees and found that for each additional 10 hours of vacation employees took, their year-end performance ratings from supervisors (on a scale of one to five) improved by 8 percent. Frequent vacationers were also significantly less likely to leave the firm.*
  • Longer naps have an even more profound impact than shorter ones. Sara C. Mednick, a sleep researcher at the University of California, Riverside, found that a 60- to 90-minute nap improved memory test results as fully as did eight hours of sleep.*
  • To maximize gains from long-term practice,” Dr. Ericsson concluded, “individuals must avoid exhaustion and must limit practice to an amount from which they can completely recover on a daily or weekly basis.*
  • Another study, this one focussed on IT workers at a Fortune 500 company, found that when people were given greater control over when and where they worked, they reported experiencing significantly less work-family conflict over a six-month period and said that they felt less overwhelmed at work. **
  • A study of employees at health insurance provider Aetna revealed that the roughly one quarter of those who took in-office yoga and mindfulness classes reported a 28 percent reduction in their stress levels and a 20 percent improvement in sleep quality. These less-stressed workers gained an average of 62 minutes per week of productivity, which the company estimates to be worth $3,000 per employee per year.””

*New York Times Article — Relax! You’ll Be More Productive by Tony Schwartz

**Huffington Post Article — The American Workplace is Broken. Here’s How We Can Start Fixing It. by Carolyn Gregoire


I hope you’re inspired now to lock retreating into your best business practices! Don’t forget to watch this week’s video here!

Let me know your ideas for and results from retreating in the comment section below or at: melissa@creative-successful-entrepreneurs.com.

To your success,

Melissa McFarlane
Creative Successful Entrepreneurs
Riot for Joy!

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