Reflecting on the Impact of Forum Executive Retreat

September marks the start of a new Forum year for the CFBC with five groups headed off to retreat. How exciting….

I was recently asked by a potential member what the difference between a Forum retreat and a Forum meeting is. The best way I can explain it is with my own shared experience. Retreat allows me to take time (3 days) to dive deep into myself and figure out what’s important to me in my life. It enables me to process, plan, and gain insight into my own leadership through the exercises we complete at retreat. On the other hand, my Forum meeting supports me in the here and now. I have the opportunity address the things that I’m questioning in my life in that specific moment.

Last year my Forum completed an exercise at retreat called “The Legacy You Leave, An Ethical Will”. The exercise is designed to get you thinking about what is important to you ethically and what kind of legacy you’d like to leave behind. To complete the exercise, I chose to write a love letter to my loved ones. At the time, I wrote about all my thoughts, wishes and what I wanted to be remembered for. It gave me the opportunity to be truthful to myself and my loved ones, one last time. For me it was a cleansing exercise and a truly powerful experience to share with my Forum mates. I learned what kind of legacy they wanted to leave and WHY. It was a bonding exercise for our group. When I came home from retreat, I stuck the letter in my desk with all my important papers, just in case something ever happened to me.

In February, something did happen to me. Thank god for modern medicine and great doctors because today I’m in good shape. The amazing thing is, I forgot about the letter and I recently stumbled upon it in my desk. I wondered if, after I opened it, what I said would still be relevant and important to me after what I had been through. After reading it, I realized I wouldn’t change one word. It was just the kind of message I want to leave to those I love.

I share this story with you because I think it demonstrates the lasting impact a Forum retreat can have. While each Forum meeting is powerful in its own way, the exercises at your Forum retreat are meant to address big picture topics. The most impactful retreats happen when you fully give yourself to the exercise and don’t hold back from sharing your true thoughts and feelings.

Once again, I’m incredibly grateful to the CFBC and our members for all they do to help me be a better wife, mother, grandmother, woman, friend, boss and leader. Wishing you all a wonderful start to your new Forum year and a safe and powerful Forum retreat!

Judy Hogel
Executive Director
Chicago Family Business Council | DePaul University

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